As We Travel » Sri Lanka http://www.aswetravel.com Traveling Tips, Destinations, Videos & Travel Blog Thu, 18 Dec 2014 14:07:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 5 Life Lessons from Climbing Adam’s Peak In Sri Lanka http://www.aswetravel.com/5-life-lessons-climbing-adams-peak-sri-lanka/ http://www.aswetravel.com/5-life-lessons-climbing-adams-peak-sri-lanka/#comments Sun, 13 Jan 2013 13:00:48 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=38917 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Earlier this year we traveled to Sri Lanka, a country full of beauty and adventure – we had heard about the beautiful view of the sunrise from the top of a sacred mountain called Adam’s Peak – and decided to join thousands of pilgrims on their pilgrimage to the peak. Being a holy place for both Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians, Adam’s […]

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As We Travel - Traveling Tips, Destinations, Videos & Travel Blog

Earlier this year we traveled to Sri Lanka, a country full of beauty and adventure – we had heard about the beautiful view of the sunrise from the top of a sacred mountain called Adam’s Peak – and decided to join thousands of pilgrims on their pilgrimage to the peak.

Being a holy place for both Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians, Adam’s Peak is very unique.

To be at the top when the sun rose, you had to begin the hike at 2am – the rain was pouring down during the entire 4 hour climb up to the peak, small waterfalls had been created in the rocks next to the steps, and you had to wade through deep large mud pools in darkness.

Just our luck – we had managed to pick the most miserable night of the year to climb Adam’s Peak, but we were far from the only ones… 

We ended up bringing home much more than just wet clothes, as we learned a few useful life lessons from the journey …

1. It’s Easier If You Enjoy The Process

Whenever you were at your lowest, with wet hair and clothes sticking to your skin – someone would start chanting, almost as though they could feel your struggle. The chanting spread like a fire among the climbers who all joined in, singing the same lyrics over and over.

I have no idea what they said, but it was beautiful and it reminded me of everyone else who were with me going through the same struggles, and looking around me realizing what a crazy thing I was doing made me enjoy the process.

I will try my best to apply this to other aspects of my life, and whenever things get tough, look around and see the beauty of it and remember that things aren’t so bad after all.

2. We All Do What We Do For A Reason

We all had a different purpose for climbing that mountain, and for me it became about completing something, about not giving in, and showing myself that I could do it.

When we finally reached the top, I was wet, cold, exhausted – and happy – the view was nice, but it was the feeling of accomplishment that really meant something more.

Next time I’m in doubt, I will think of how great it felt to be proud over exceeding my own expectations.

3. The Only Thing Stopping You Is Your Mind

While I’m not a hiker at all, I can tell you that Adam’s Peak is not an easy climb – I would have thought it impossible for a one-legged person to climb it, if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes…

In the end, it all comes down to your mind. If your mind is strong enough, you can accomplish things well beyond what others would say is impossible.

The mind will give up before the body does.

4. We’re Stronger Together

If I would have been alone climbing for 4 hours at night in the worst possible rainstorm, I would have given up before I even began.

But being surrounded by thousands of people, from 4 year old children to 90 year old women and men with bent backs climbing the mountain in their bare feet, gave me the strength and inspiration to carry on – if you do it together, you can bring each other up.

5. You Must Finish What You Begin

On the way down from the mountain, our legs were shaking from the stress endured during the climb – the pain was almost unbearable, but you had to get down and there was only one way to go.

“Getting to the summit is optional, getting down is mandatory” – Ed Viesturs

It’s the same thing with life, we often reach points where we simply have no choice to just stop but have to finish what we started.

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5 Budget Travel Tips For Visiting Sri Lanka http://www.aswetravel.com/5-budget-travel-tips-for-visiting-sri-lanka/ http://www.aswetravel.com/5-budget-travel-tips-for-visiting-sri-lanka/#comments Thu, 11 Oct 2012 12:00:15 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=38098 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Sri Lanka is a beautiful place to visit with its lush hill districts, fascinating temples and delicious food – but compared to other nearby countries like India, Sri Lanka can seem quite expensive. However, there are ways to stay on a budget and still enjoy the country… Here are five budget-friendly tips for those visiting […]

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Sri Lanka is a beautiful place to visit with its lush hill districts, fascinating temples and delicious food – but compared to other nearby countries like India, Sri Lanka can seem quite expensive.

However, there are ways to stay on a budget and still enjoy the country…

Here are five budget-friendly tips for those visiting Sri Lanka.

1. Eat Where The Locals Eat

The one thing you will be sure to find dirt cheap in Sri Lanka is food – but you have to go to the right places.

When you see a hole in the wall restaurant with dirty walls and long tables packed with locals, it’s often a great place to get cheap but tasty food.

We found street markets and small restaurants (who didn’t have menus) to give gigantic servings, so a good advice is to order one plate to share.

Another thing worth noting is that when ordering curry meals, you will also get free rice refills – vegetarian meals are the cheapest options, fish and seafood is slightly more expensive and chicken costs a bit more.

2. Take The Train Whenever Possible

The transport will either end up being the most expensive or the cheapest part of your trip.

For us, it turned out to be the most expensive – trains are dirt cheap (because they’re government run), but on holidays you need to have booked your tickets weeks in advance, or it will be completely booked up or a ride from hell.

Buses are also cheap but are the most uncomfortable ways of travel – chances are you will have to stand up for 8 hours bumping into someone else’s armpit, as drivers cram the buses full of people and then hurtle around at ferocious speeds, slamming on the brakes. Trust us, we’ve been there…

So whenever possible, book train tickets in advance and travel outside of holidays, because they are very busy in Sri Lanka – the train rides are beautiful, so taking the Observation car is definitely recommended.

3. Manage Without WiFi

Prices for guest house rooms will be higher closer to tourist beaches, but generally you should be able to stay in a double room for less than £20, or you can grab a bed in a dorm for £3-10 a night.

If you don’t need A/C or wifi, you can get by pretty cheap.

Package deals to Sri Lanka have become more popular and often work out cheaper than arranging a do-it-yourself holiday – you can get luxury rooms for reasonable prices, especially if you book last minute or in the wet season – if you’re looking to really save your budget, couchsurfing could allow you to stay in the country for free.

4. Take Their Number

Traveling by car is by far the most comfortable way of travel, and one way to get a great deal is to hire a driver for a week.

We didn’t know this before, and ended up hiring new drivers for every journey, which turned out to cost a lot more than if we would have stuck with the first driver (who btw turned out to be the most honest).

If you find a driver in the beginning of your trip, it’s definitely worth getting an international call plan in advance so that you can book him for the whole trip and stay in touch on pick-up and drop-off times. Some even arrange the driver before they arrive in Sri Lanka.

This is a good idea if you don’t want to have to worry about tracking down phone-cards, the Vonage UK website offers ways to make cheap calls to Sri Lanka, and to keep in touch without receiving an excessive phone bill.

5. Avoid The Main Tourist Sites

Another massive drain on your budget will be the touristy temples and national parks – the majority of Sri Lanka’s most impressive sights charge hefty admission fees – save money by avoiding the crowds and trying out some of the wonderful free things the country has to offer.

One of the things Sri Lanka is most famous for is its tea production – many of the plantations in the hill district will offer free tours.

One of the most famous plantations is Lipton Tea, which is also near another free landmark: Lipton’s Seat – the seat is one of the highest lookout points in Sri Lanka, allowing you stunning views over the hill country.

To experience religious culture without paying exorbitant prices, check out some of the free temples in Kandy – just across the lake from the pricey Temple of the Tooth Relic is a sprawling monastery with an interesting museum.

The monks are happy to give you a free tour and to explain the origins of all the artefacts – there’s also a vibrant Hindu temple in the centre of town which visitors are welcome to enter. Inside are colourful wall murals and charming images of Hindu Gods.

There are many free temples and sites to explore on a budget – one crazy cultural experience is to climb Adam’s Peak at 2am in the morning.

What are some of your budget tips for Sri Lanka? Is Sri Lanka a place you would like to visit?

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Explore Sri Lanka In 4 Mins (VIDEO) http://www.aswetravel.com/explore-sri-lanka-in-4-mins-video/ http://www.aswetravel.com/explore-sri-lanka-in-4-mins-video/#comments Mon, 24 Sep 2012 06:00:39 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=37835 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Earlier this year we spent 3 weeks traveling around Sri Lanka, a country with incredible diverse nature and the most charming people. Sri Lanka is so full of surprises and experiences, there are so many things to see and do there that we didn’t feel that 3 weeks was enough. Here is a video we made […]

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As We Travel - Traveling Tips, Destinations, Videos & Travel Blog

Earlier this year we spent 3 weeks traveling around Sri Lanka, a country with incredible diverse nature and the most charming people.

Sri Lanka is so full of surprises and experiences, there are so many things to see and do there that we didn’t feel that 3 weeks was enough.

Here is a video we made of our our 3 week trip: in under 4 minutes on video – enjoy!

To read more about our time in Sri Lanka, check out the articles below:

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Impressions Of Sri Lanka – What You Need To Know! http://www.aswetravel.com/impressions-of-sri-lanka-what-you-need-to-know/ http://www.aswetravel.com/impressions-of-sri-lanka-what-you-need-to-know/#comments Fri, 11 May 2012 12:00:53 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=31068 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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After spending three weeks in Sri Lanka, we left the country with many new impressions and experiences. Sri Lanka had given us so many contrasting experiences, and the charismatic people we had met along the way had given us different insights into the country and its people. It was interesting to see how this country […]

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After spending three weeks in Sri Lanka, we left the country with many new impressions and experiences.

Sri Lanka had given us so many contrasting experiences, and the charismatic people we had met along the way had given us different insights into the country and its people.

It was interesting to see how this country has quickly risen from a long time of struggling and hardship, and is today really starting to take shape and create its own identity.

The People

I really enjoyed the people in Sri Lanka, and can honestly say that they were among the friendliest people I’ve met.

We often felt that the people we met were genuinely interested in us, and were happy to share a lot about themselves as well.

Children or adults, they were all easy to talk to and everyone always said hello, waiving from the car or street.

Being invited to a Sri Lankan family’s home was a great example of their open-ness and hospitality, but that wasn’t the only time we experienced this; on the buses and trains, on the streets and in hotels, the people were incredibly friendly and often greeted us with big smiles as soon as you made eye contact.

Many Sri Lankans were very positive about the future, something which you could tell not only in conversations but everywhere around you.

For example, hotels seemed to be built in a way where they could easily add new floors once business was prospering.

The Food

The portions in Sri Lanka are massive – sometimes when we ordered two meals, the waiter would tell us that one would be enough for both of us (some pretty honest people!), which turned out to be very true.

We were expecting the food to be similar to that of India, but found that the Sri Lankan cuisine had a very distinct style of its own.

If you ever travel to Sri Lanka, you have to try their street food! There are Roti (a type of pancake) in an endless variety, lots of pastries, and the very popular buffalo curd, which you will love or hate.

Sri Lankans also seem incredibly fond of their foul smelling “Wood Apple”, which surprisingly tastes delicious as a milkshake.

The Nature

From postcard-perfect beaches with palm trees hanging over the waterfront of a milky turquoise ocean and colorful wooden fishing boats, to lush rain forest, countless of waterfalls and tea plantations – Sri Lanka has some of the most beautiful and diverse nature I’ve ever seen.

There is a little bit of everything for everyone when it comes to the nature in Sri Lanka, surfers and beach bums will love the beaches, hikers will love the mountains and views, and adventurous people will love the wild life and how easy it is to find “unexplored” and “off the beaten path” areas.

You can see a lot of it from the train window, but getting up close with the nature there is a very unique experience!

The Prices

We were actually very surprised, and confused, about the cost of things in Sri Lanka – compared to other countries in South and South East Asia, Sri Lanka is not cheap – you simply get less for what you pay for.

Public transport was insanely cheap, but also incredibly difficult to use – trains often only went twice a day, and at the time we were there they were so overcrowded that even the ticket salesmen often advised us to take a taxi.

To see many of the places and attractions in an area you often need a driver, so hiring one for a week or the entire duration of your stay is actually a really good idea – but naturally, this will also cost you more.

The fees to temples and cultural sites, were often surprisingly high, which put us off a little since we weren’t prepared for that.

So, as a conclusion, Sri Lanka offers a lot to see and do, but to really be able to do it all and get the very most of the country when it comes to attractions, bring a bigger budget than to India and SEA.

Have you been to Sri Lanka? What are your impressions?

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Places To Visit In Sri Lanka – Exploring The Hill Country http://www.aswetravel.com/places-to-visit-in-sri-lanka-exploring-the-hill-country/ http://www.aswetravel.com/places-to-visit-in-sri-lanka-exploring-the-hill-country/#comments Tue, 08 May 2012 12:00:23 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=30970 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Sri Lanka’s hill country is unbelievably beautiful, with lush green forest, abundant wild life, tea plantations and countless waterfalls. Exploring the hill country of Sri Lanka is a must when visiting the country, and here are some of the best places to start with… Kandy – Gateway To The Hill-Country Kandy is the cultural and […]

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Sri Lanka’s hill country is unbelievably beautiful, with lush green forest, abundant wild life, tea plantations and countless waterfalls.

Exploring the hill country of Sri Lanka is a must when visiting the country, and here are some of the best places to start with…

Kandy – Gateway To The Hill-Country

places to visit in sri lankaKandy is the cultural and spiritual capital of Sri Lanka, with some of the country’s most important temples like the Temple of the Tooth, a nice lake, and a bustling local market.

There are lots of restaurants and bakeries in Kandy that are worth exploring, and some great hotels (many of them are perched on top of hills with incredible views), making this city a good base for excursions to the cultural triangle.

The only thing we didn’t like about Kandy was how many people try to hustle you to visit their shops, all with identical routines – so be on your guard!

Ella – Walking Among Nature

places to visit in sri lankaElla is a tiny little village in a large, stunning area which is easy to explore on your own.

Go for a morning walk up to what is locally nicknamed as “Little Adam’s Peak” for the beautiful views, then check out the tea plantation which you walk through on the way back down, visit a waterfall or take a longer hike up to Ella Rock.

Ella is all about the views and being close to nature – everywhere you go in the hill country of Sri Lanka, you’ll see jungles, hills, and tea plantations – while in Malaysia you have to seek them out, here you simply stumble upon these beautiful velvet-looking fields.

When you’re back in the little village again, make sure you try the buffalo curd with treacle at the Curd Shop – a favorite snack in the hill-country region.

Nuwara Eliya – Little England

places to visit in sri lankaNuwara Eliya is a strange place, there is no other way to describe it – with typical British climate and British architecture to top it off, you feel like either you or the town is out of place.

The city center is a boring concrete block, but the outskirts have houses and buildings that are almost more British than Britain itself.

The buildings all give the impression of a glamorous past, one which has faded – and while time has passed and the world has changed, life in and around these buildings are still stuck in the 1920’s England.

Embrace it, have your tea on the porch or in the garden, and then explore the tea plantations surrounding the area.

Pedro’s Tea Estate is close and cheap to get to (800 rupee/6 dollars both ways and the driver will wait for as long a you need). You can pay for a tour around the tea factory if you like, but walking among the cordial-looking hills of tea plants is definitely the highlight.

The plantation has some beautiful views overlooking the lake, and you can watch the workers skillfully picking tea leaves from the bush.

Dalhousie (Adams Peak) – Pilgrimage

There is only one reason to visit the small village hidden deep into the hills and mountains of the hill-country: to climb Adam’s Peak, the most famous pilgrimage site in Sri Lanka.

The 9km long climb up the steps to the top of the hill is not easy, especially not in heavy rain – which we had to climb in – or at 3am in the morning – so make sure you bring good shoes, energy, and clothes to fit the weather (it’s freezing at the top)!

Many people are intrigued to climb the peak to see the amazing sunrise and views from the top, but what is really the most incredible and mindblowing part of the journey is the climb, together with thousands of pilgrims of all ages, struggling to the top.

It’s a sacred site for Buddhists, Christians, Muslims and Hindus, which makes it a very special place.

The area surrounding Dalhousie is very beautiful, with at least a dozen of powerful waterfalls, lush tea plantations and an old stone church on the road from Hatton which is worth checking out.

Have you been to Sri Lanka? Did you enjoy the hill country?

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Theva Residency – Perfection In Kandy, Sri Lanka http://www.aswetravel.com/theva-residency-perfection-in-kandy-sri-lanka/ http://www.aswetravel.com/theva-residency-perfection-in-kandy-sri-lanka/#comments Sat, 05 May 2012 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=30909 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Theva Residency – A Haven In Kandy! As the bright red three-wheeler slowly made its way up the steep hill, we left the noisy, bustling city of Kandy behind to stay at Theva Residency – a boutique hotel catering for people looking for pure relaxation and an amazing view. We were exhausted after climbing Adam’s Peak the […]

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Theva Residency – A Haven In Kandy!

As the bright red three-wheeler slowly made its way up the steep hill, we left the noisy, bustling city of Kandy behind to stay at Theva Residency – a boutique hotel catering for people looking for pure relaxation and an amazing view.

We were exhausted after climbing Adam’s Peak the day before, so Theva Residency was exactly what we needed – a place to relax and rejuvenate, leaving all our troubles behind and just enjoy.

Overview.

The hotel clings to the hillside, blending in with the surrounding nature, almost as though it was part of it.

When stepping through the door to our suite on the top floor, we were in awe: the view from the spacious windows was spectacular; the city, the nature, the surrounding hill tops and a temple with a huge white sitting buddha on top of a hill, could all be seen from our bedroom - it was the kind of view that makes you feel like you own the world.

The Food

The food served in the restaurant was superb, with an interesting choice of dishes – having a big sweet tooth, the desserts on the menu seemed too good to resist, so I decided for a selection of home made ice creams to have as a pre-course…

The breakfast was delicious and very filling, with a range of cakes and pastries, home made jams, a variety of egg dishes, and a scrumptious fruit salad – the perfect way to start the next day.

Location

The hotel is situated on Hantana mountain, and while it feels like you’re a world away from Kandy, it’s only about 2 km to the city center, making it a wonderful place to be based.

The Hotel

There are 10 rooms in Theva Residency, and we stayed in the Suite on the top floor – our room was spacious and bright, with large panoramic windows, and its very own jacuzzi hot tub.

All the rooms at Theva have high-speed WiFi, TV and DVD player (with loads of movies to watch) and are designed using natural materials like wood, stone, pure cotton and linen. After some time in the hotel’s sauna or sunbathing on the deck,  you can cool off in the infinity pool with the most amazing views.

We would definitely recommend this place for your next stay in Kandy – the unbeatable views, and the wonderful hospitality of the staff  made for a memorable visit to Kandy.

(Our stay in Kandy was sponsored by Theva Residency, but as always our opinions are our own.)

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Places To Visit In Sri Lanka – Exploring The Coast http://www.aswetravel.com/places-to-visit-in-sri-lanka-exploring-the-coast/ http://www.aswetravel.com/places-to-visit-in-sri-lanka-exploring-the-coast/#comments Tue, 01 May 2012 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=30943 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Places To Visit In Sri Lanka – Exploring The Coast Sri Lanka’s coast line is among some of the most beautiful we’ve seen, and we really wish we could have stayed there much longer – there are many amazing beaches south of Colombo – with spice gardens and turtle sanctuaries to visit along the way. […]

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Places To Visit In Sri Lanka – Exploring The Coast

Sri Lanka’s coast line is among some of the most beautiful we’ve seen, and we really wish we could have stayed there much longer – there are many amazing beaches south of Colombo – with spice gardens and turtle sanctuaries to visit along the way.

There are so many places to visit in Sri Lanka that it would take you months to see everything, despite the small size of the country.

places to visit in sri lankaSri Lanka is famous for being the place where many beach and sunset postcards and ‘desktop screen savers’ are taken - and by visiting the beaches you’ll see why …

The general vibe of the beach towns is very relaxed and laid back, making you feel like there is not a worry in the world – in other words, a perfect vacation destination.

Here are three great places to visit in Sri Lanka along the coast…

Hikkaduwa

places to visit in sri lankaHikkaduwa is a laid back beach town with a lively main road and a beautiful long beach lined with guesthouses and restaurants.

It was one of our favorite places to visit in Sri Lanka for both good swimming as well as nice restaurants.

During high season it’s a good beach for beginners who would like to try surfing, while in the off season the waves get quite big, making it a popular place for professional surfers.

There are parts of the beaches where you can swim in calm waters and even go snorkeling (and swim with turtles!) in the reef.

We spent our days in Hikkauwa surfing, swimming and getting acquainted with all the different Sri Lankan food - and before we knew it almost a week had gone past!

Galle

places to visit in sri lankaThere is a quiet calm over the streets in Galle Fort – locals half sitting, half lying down in chairs under ceiling fans, children playing cricket on the porches – there is not a sign of stress anywhere to be seen.

We joined the rest of the locals in the little area, and sat for hours in cafes with a pot of tea, talking to our table neighbors and the waiter, feeling no need to leave any time soon.

A light ocean breeze sweeps through the streets every now and then, making it possible to explore the town without fainting from the heat.

Old colonial European-style houses line the streets, painted in bright colors with Hibiscus flowers hanging over the walls and from the balconies of the long and narrow buildings.

In the old days you had to pay tax on the width of your home, which resulted in people building narrow homes and instead extending in length – these houses remain to this day.

Quaint little tea houses and art galleries are scattered around the town, next to gem boutiques and antique shops – Galle is often included as one of the places to visit in Sri Lanka and is also a good base to explore the nearly beaches by bus or three-wheeler during the day.

Unnawatuna

Unnawatuna is a more quiet beach town without the hectic main road of Hikkaduwa, where the water is calm and clear, and where your hotel is located quite literally in the water.

This is one of those places to visit in Sri Lanka where you go for pure relaxation, with palm trees hanging over the waterfront providing a nice shade, and three-wheeler drivers waiting to take you on day excursions to turtle sanctuaries and spice gardens.

Having breakfast at the beach with the waves touching your feet is a lovely way to start the day.

Have you been to any of Sri Lanka’s amazing beaches? What places to visit in Sri Lanka would you recommend along the coast?

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How A Tsunami Evacuation Connected Us With The Locals http://www.aswetravel.com/how-a-tsunami-evacuation-connected-us-with-the-locals/ http://www.aswetravel.com/how-a-tsunami-evacuation-connected-us-with-the-locals/#comments Sun, 29 Apr 2012 12:00:25 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=30877 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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We had just arrived in the sleepy beach town of Hikkaduwa in Sri Lanka, and crashed on the bed exhausted after a long day of traveling from Colombo &  taking one of the many cheap international flights from Germany. “Are you shaking the bed?” Nathan suddenly asked me- I wasn’t, but I could feel the whole ground […]

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We had just arrived in the sleepy beach town of Hikkaduwa in Sri Lanka, and crashed on the bed exhausted after a long day of traveling from Colombo &  taking one of the many cheap international flights from Germany.

“Are you shaking the bed?” Nathan suddenly asked me- I wasn’t, but I could feel the whole ground slightly shaking under me – as I looked around the room I noticed that the mirrors were shaking too.

Thousands of miles across the ocean, we could feel the vibrations from the massive earthquake which had just struck the coast of Indonesia.

We didn’t think much more of it at the time, until one of the local travel agents asked Nathan if he had heard anything about a tsunami coming.

At first we thought it was some kind of bad joke, but as we checked out Twitter Search, the newsfeed was going crazy.

Nobody really knew what to think, believe or do – Hikkaduwa had been badly damaged from the tsunami in 2006, so this warning was not something people there took lightly.

We had two options:to risk it and stay, or to evacuate and seek higher ground – ten minutes later we had packed a small bag of the most necessary things, and walked out on the street.

The laid back main street had suddenly turned into a ghost town, the shops were closed and the streets empty from people – most of the locals had already left.

We didn’t want to waste any time, and so we simply looked on a map for a village that seemed far away enough in-land and told the driver to take us there.

At first the driver laughed when we told him where we wanted to go, but then he suddenly got a serious look on his face and agreed to take us there for almost nothing, perhaps he had realized the danger and wanted to get out of there as well.

Shortly after we left, the whole town was forced to evacuate.

Once he had dropped us off we realized why he had laughed - we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere in a tiny country village which probably no tourists ever visited as there was no reason to go there - I’ve never been stared at so much in my life! :p

We walked up and down the main road (the only road there), trying to find somewhere we could wait and follow the news – but there were no restaurants or hotels to be found anywhere.

We finally found a tiny eatery with a small TV that was hardly working, and sat down to wait, we asked the boy serving us if there was a hotel around, but he shook his head apologetically.

Having no idea what to do next, we started walking again …

Five minutes later the boy from the restaurant caught up with us on his bicycle, and with a low and slightly shy voice said that if we wanted to we could stay the night with him and his family.

It was only our second day in Sri Lanka, and already we were experiencing the kind-ness and hospitality that the Sri Lankan people are so famous for.

The boy’s family took us in with open arms, arranged a bed for us to sleep in and made a huge effort to make us feel at home in their house, serving us a wonderful dinner in their lounge.

In the evening, the tsunami warning was cancelled – but with the warm hospitality coming from this family we ended up staying the night and spent the rest of the evening hanging out with them – talking about everything and nothing, watching movies and getting an amazing insight into the lives of the people of the country.

There is no doubt that uncertain events like these bring people together, and as we parted the next day we had made some great new friends and exchanged email with a promise to visit again next time we traveled to Sri Lanka …

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Delicious Must-Try Drinks in Sri Lanka http://www.aswetravel.com/delicious-drinks-in-sri-lanka/ http://www.aswetravel.com/delicious-drinks-in-sri-lanka/#comments Sun, 15 Apr 2012 12:00:48 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=28073 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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Sri Lanka is a country famous for its spicy food and varied cuisine, and while you could write a whole book about the food in Sri Lanka, we shouldn’t forget the drinks in Sri Lanka! Sri Lanka is a perfect destination for those looking for cheap holidays, and since food and drinks in Sri Lanka cost […]

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Sri Lanka is a country famous for its spicy food and varied cuisine, and while you could write a whole book about the food in Sri Lanka, we shouldn’t forget the drinks in Sri Lanka!

Sri Lanka is a perfect destination for those looking for cheap holidays, and since food and drinks in Sri Lanka cost close to nothing, you can indulge in eating and drinking all day long.

Here are some popular drinks in Sri Lanka, you must try:

Ceylon Tea

Sri Lanka is the third largest tea producing country in the world, so it is no surprise that tea is one of the most common drinks in Sri Lanka.

Tea plants were introduced by the British in the 19th century, and today you can enjoy a cup of the finest Ceylon tea in tea houses overlooking the beautiful tea plantations in the highlands.

Just remember that Sri Lankans like their tea sweet – VERY sweet, so if you don’t want a massive sugar kick then ask the waiter to only put one or two tea spoons of sugar in your cup.

King Coconut Juice

King coconut palm trees line the beaches and surround the homes of locals, providing shade from the sun along with a thousand other ways to use the coconuts growing at the top.

This orange coconut is very important for the Sri Lankan people, who refer to it as a “living pharmacy”.

Our taxi driver bought us a couple of coconuts from a street stall and while the seller hacked a hole with his machete knife the driver told us all the possible benefits this “natural energy drink” apparently had.

Sri Lankans use the King Coconut, also known as Thambili, in everything from cooking to Ayurvedic medicine.

It’s much sweeter (and tastier) than the green Young Coconut and the perfect thirst quencher, you can find it for sale on the streets everywhere.

Toddy & Arrack

Toddy is a light alcoholic drink (4%) made from fermented coconut palm sap, and is usually served in Toddy shacks around the country.

Every morning at dawn, toddy tappers climb onto the palm trees along the coastlines of Sri Lanka and harvest the palm sap from unopened coconut flowers - every tree can provide up to two liters of this stuff every day.

The sap ferments immediately into toddy and becomes mildly alcoholic.

You drink it like beer, but don’t expect it to taste like it – toddy definitely has an acquired taste – don’t believe anyone who says that it tastes like cider, it’s more like vinegar!

Arrack is one of the most traditional drinks in Sri Lanka which is distilled from toddy or palm syrup, and has a much higher percentage of alcohol (60 – 90%).

The golden colored drink is often regarded as the national drink of Sri Lanka, and tastes like something between Whisky and Rum.

Many people mix it with Sprite, ginger beer or Coke into a cocktail – you can get both these drinks from the local Toddy shacks.

Faluda

Faluda is like a liquid dessert – a sweet combination of milk and rose syrup with poppy seeds and jelly pieces.

It’s a muslim specialty, sometimes served with cashew nuts and ice cream – yum!

Elephant House Ginger Beer

Elephant House Ginger Beer is a popular Sri Lankan soft drink prepared with natural Ayurvedic ginger (one of the few to do this in the world) grown from local farmers in the hill-country.

The drink proclaims to have Ayurvedic properties, helping digestion and relieving drowsiness from a heavy meal.

It’s really tasty and is a perfect match with spicy foods.

What are your favorite drinks in Sri Lanka?

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4 Reasons To Visit Sri Lanka http://www.aswetravel.com/4-reasons-to-visit-sri-lanka/ http://www.aswetravel.com/4-reasons-to-visit-sri-lanka/#comments Sat, 17 Mar 2012 12:00:48 +0000 http://www.aswetravel.com/?p=27575 jQuery(document).ready(function(){ var options = { sites : new Array("facebook","twitter","gplus","linkedin","stumpleupon"), plugin_url : "http://www.aswetravel.com/wp-content/plugins/all-in-one-social/" }; load_all_in_one_social_banner(options); });

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We knew that D-Day (Day of Decision Making) would come sooner or later, but like always we kept avoiding it by having “more important things to think about” – which led to us being just as late in our planning as always - somehow we always manage to leave these things to the very last […]

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We knew that D-Day (Day of Decision Making) would come sooner or later, but like always we kept avoiding it by having “more important things to think about” – which led to us being just as late in our planning as always - somehow we always manage to leave these things to the very last minute :S

In 3 weeks we’ll have to pack our bags and leave Germany – but to where? When doing some brainstorming the other day, the idea of going to Sri Lanka came up.

The reasons to travel to Sri Lanka are many, and these four reasons were just a few that made us excited about wanting to go there…

World Class Beaches and Surfing

The thing I didn’t like about the beaches in Thailand was that the water was absolutely still, something which got very boring after some time.

Sri Lanka has the best of both worlds; paradise beaches and good surfing.

Unawatuna has been voted as one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches in the world by Discovery Channel, and people take Sri Lanka holidays to surf at Arugam Bay, one of the top 10 surf destinations in the world.

Indulgence In Food And Tea

Often one of the main reasons I travel to a country is because of the food.

Being a vegetarian it might seem odd that I’m such a food fanatic, but for some reason it has had the opposite effect on me and has made me even more fascinated about food.

Sri Lanka is heaven when it comes to vegetarian food, which makes it another great reason to visit.

It is also one of the largest exporters of tea in the world – in other words, perfect for tea lovers like me, besides, few things are more beautiful than the sight of rolling hills with tea plantations that look like velvet.

Culture and Festivals

One of the best ways to get an insight into a country’s tradition and culture is to attend the festivals and celebrations, and there are so many festivals in Sri Lanka that it seems like the people there love to find reasons to celebrate..!

One of the biggest celebrations is the annual Perahera festival in Kandy, a Buddhist celebration with elephant parades and dances – something I would love to see!

Elephant Encounters

I’m quite cautious when it comes to elephant centers, as I know that many of them mistreat their animals, and it’s sometimes difficult to know as a visitor.

In Sri Lanka, the Asian Elephants were hunted close to extinction during the British colonial period, and are now endangered.

But the country has made many efforts to increase the elephant population, promoting eco tourism and has as many as nine national parks, seven bird sanctuaries and several conservation centers like Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage.

It seems like a good place to meet these huge gentle animals without feeling guilty.

Have you been to Sri Lanka? If so, what did you think?

(photo credit: 1 – 2 – 3)

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