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Our time in Sri Lanka has been incredible, and such a unique experience. Sri Lanka really does have it all; cities, safaris, beaches and mountains. Of all the Asian countries I've visited so far, after two weeks exploring many different locations I can safely say it is by far my favourite. Its people are a breath of fresh air; smiley and charming, and it's untouched beauty is something I will remember for the rest of my life.
I started my trip in the country's capital, Colombo. Before travelling, I read extensively about the contrasting colonial and local histories of Colombo, and I found this contrast to be one of the city's most intriguing characteristics. On almost every turn there is a religious building of some sort; churches, mosques, Buddhist and Hindu temples. One of the greatest part of my time in Colombo was stumbling across the Hindu temple, Sri Kaileswaram. In a concrete courtyard around a mile along an unassuming side street, its location and role as one of the smaller temples meant it was completely derelict apart from two caretakers when we visited. With incredible wood carvings, paintings and sculptures in every colour and incredibly ornate ceilings, never in my life had I seen architecture like it, and to see it in complete silence was all the more wonderful. Aside from religious buildings, there is an endless list of colonial buildings to visit such as the Dutch Hospital and Independence Arcade - both of which have been converted into upmarket eateries and shops. In the Dutch Hospital is the world class Ministry of Crab; with seafood fresh out of the Colombo waters, incredible service and a high demand, it's a must visit when in Colombo. The same chef and owner more recently opened Kaema Sutra in the Independence Arcade, in a British colonial building just steps away from Independence Square. Offering his own twist on traditional cuisine, chef Dharshan Manidasa aims to elevate Sri Lankan cuisine with this incredible restaurant.Clock Inn Colombo is close to all of these sights, as well as other must see places in Colombo include the Pettah Market and floating market, the Galle Beach Front and a train journey from Fort Railway Station along the Sri Lankan coast.
Exploring the South Coast and Sri Lanka's Highlands
I took this train to the incredible town of Mirissa, where I stayed on the beach front and took day trips by bus to Galle. Mirissa is a lot more laid back and peaceful than both, whilst Galle is incredibly luxurious inside the fort walls. Be sure not to miss the world famous stick fisherman in Koggala, which is halfway between both towns. From there I took a two day trip to Yala National Park, where we saw every animal imaginable on a South Asian safari. Elephants, leopards, bears, snakes and crocodiles were just a few of the incredible animals I was fortunate to see in the wild. Last but not least was Sri Lanka's second largest city Kandy, which stands 500 metres above sea level. Kandy is surrounded by mountains, tea plantations and waterfalls and it too contains many colonial buildings. The beauty of Kandy comes in its more traditional charm, with vendors interacting with locals and tourists alike on every street and local children as flocks of bright white in their uniforms. It is a beautiful city which is very accessible, with all the sights to see just a short walk from the next. These sights include Kandy Lake, in the heart of the city, which is framed by the incredible Buddhist Temple of the Tooth. Just fifteen minutes uphill from the lake is the Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue; a large white Buddhist sculpture that emerges from the green hills around it and can be seen across the city. Walking around Kandy is energising, exciting and exhilarating. It is a world away from home in the best possible way, and is everything I imagined a Sri Lankan city to be and more. Day trips from Kandy can be taken to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage to the west, Adam's Peak to the south, or to Sigiriya Rock to the north. Clock Inn Kandy had a tuk tuk driver on hand with fixed prices for these day trips, as well as being within walking distance to all of the local sights. I adore Sri Lanka. I love the culture, I love the people and I love the country itself. I feel so fortunate to have spent such a period of time in a country so connected to nature, and I know that I will be back to see even more of this incredible island.