Sri Lanka: A Journey to the Pearl of the Indian Ocean
I belong to the category of people who are fortunate enough to have childhood friends who have made my life exciting, adventurous, and even humorous at times. Without them, I wonder how different my life would be. For those who have been following my journey, you already know who I am talking about - my two childhood friends Bobby and Ajay. As I mentioned before, most of my posts will have their presence, for better or for worse.
Despite being a shy and timid person, I can truly be myself when I am with my two childhood friends, Bobby and Ajay. They bring out the best version of me and have been instrumental in creating countless memories. We discuss everything under the sun, from the silly to the wise, and sometimes even the ugly. We agree, disagree, and even debate, but at the end of the day, nothing can come between us. I cannot stress enough the importance of these two in my life. They have not only been my companions but also played a crucial role in making my trip to Srilanka a success.
Our trips are usually impromptu, decided over a get-together. One evening, while having dinner, the three of us realized that it had been a while since we had been on a vacation. With Christmas over and New Year approaching, we were excited about the prospect of a holiday. I suggested that we go to a foreign country, and Sri Lanka, located southeast of India, immediately came to mind as a budget-friendly option. Bobby and Ajay quickly agreed, and we finalized everything that same night over dinner.
After checking flight ticket prices, we discovered that flying to Colombo from Bangalore, India was a bit costly. However, my intelligent friend Bobby suggested that we fly from Chennai instead since the tickets there were significantly cheaper. The question then arose of how we would get to Chennai. Being the adventurous types we are, we decided to drive my car to Chennai, park it somewhere, and then catch our flight to Colombo.
One of the best things about our group is that we plan, agree, and execute. So, we sealed the deal and decided to go to Sri Lanka via Chennai. However, there was a last-minute addition to our group: Cherry, Ajay's wife, who joined us for a short vacation in Sri Lanka.
Here are some of the basic facts of Sri Lanka:
Sri lanka is an island country located in the Indian Ocean, southeast of India. It is known for its tropical climate, beautiful beaches, ancient Buddhist ruins, and lush forests. Sri Lanka has a rich cultural heritage that dates back thousands of years, and it is home to many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The country is also famous for its tea plantations, wildlife reserves, and spicy cuisine. With its vibrant culture and stunning landscapes, Sri Lanka is a popular travel destination for adventurers, nature enthusiasts, and culture lovers alike.
Day – 1
On the afternoon of 27th December, we embarked on a road trip from Bangalore to Chennai. The journey was filled with adventure, from engaging conversations to listening to music together. It was a memorable experience and we were enjoying each other's company. We finally arrived in Chennai at around 9 pm and checked into the Ginger Hotel for an overnight stay, as we had an early morning flight the next day, which was on 28th December. After a satisfying dinner, we retired to our beds, feeling a bit tired from the 7-hour long drive.
While we were having dinner the night before, Bobby and I were trying to figure out where to park our car in Chennai during our trip to Sri Lanka. We eventually decided on parking it at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras campus located next to the Ginger Hotel where we were staying. The next morning, we spoke to the security at the campus and they allowed us to park our car for the five days that we would be away. We then hired a taxi and headed to the Chennai International Airport. We boarded our Sri Lankan Airlines flight on time and were filled with excitement to explore Sri Lanka together, as we had never traveled outside India as a group before.
Upon our arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport, we were relieved that our pre-booked stay made the process of getting to our accommodation hassle-free. After booking a taxi, we also made sure to get a local SIM card from the airport and have it activated. Our chosen accommodation, the Ranveli Beach Resort, was located close to Mt. Lavina Beach and had received positive reviews within our budget. Although the distance from the airport to the resort was around 42 KM, we were excited to explore the beauty of Sri Lanka.
As we drove towards our hotel, which was located a little away from the main city of Colombo, we couldn't help but feel the excitement in the air. With the festive season and New Year just around the corner, there was a sense of anticipation that we couldn't ignore. On the way to our hotel, we came across the "Colombo City Center" and decided to do a bit of shopping there since we had packed light for the trip. The driver was more than happy to stop and allow us to explore. We stumbled upon a New Year sale and found that the prices were reasonable when compared to India, so we ended up purchasing a few items that we could use while in Sri Lanka. Once we were done with our shopping, we made our way to the hotel and were delighted to find that it was just as relaxing and serene as described on Booking.com.
As we arrived at the hotel reception, we were warmly welcomed and our rooms were quickly prepared. Earlier during our ride from the airport to the hotel, we had made plans to rest for a while and then visit the beach shacks in the evening, followed by spending the late night on the beach. After checking into our rooms and taking some rest, we headed towards Mt. Lavina Beach, which was conveniently located less than 300 meters from the hotel.
After a short walk on the beach, we found a cozy shack with great vibes, music, and cold beer. We ordered some seafood and chilled on the beach chairs enjoying the view and sipping our beer. As the sun went down, the beach was lit up with lights, and the party atmosphere kicked in. We spent the evening chatting, eating, and enjoying the music and the ambiance of the place. It was a perfect start to our Sri Lankan holiday.
The time was around 6 pm, with the sun slowly setting in and creating a breathtaking atmosphere. We thought of taking a stroll along the beach and we discovered a seafood restaurant named "Buba Seafood Restaurant". Being in a coastal area, we were eager to try the seafood and chose the upstairs seating area, which offered a good view of the Indian Ocean. We started with LION beer, which is the local beer of Sri Lanka, and grilled tiger prawns ( mainly for Bobby, Ajay & Cherry), me being a vegetarian I choose some of the veg options
The food was delicious and unique, although we did not enjoy their cocktails, and the service was a bit slow. I would recommend this place to anyone visiting Mt. Lavinia for an evening of beer and food as the staff are friendly, and the atmosphere is relaxing. We ordered more beers, and after getting a bit tipsy, we returned to our hotel. Although it was a long walk, we cannot remember how we managed to reach the hotel and fell asleep due to the effects of the beer.
Here are some food-related tips to keep in mind when visiting the Buba Seafood Restaurant:
They only serve canned beers, so don't expect any draft beers or bottled beers.
It's best to avoid ordering cocktails as they are not highly recommended.
If you're a seafood lover, try their Buba Salad, Grilled Tiger Prawns, and Cuttle Fish dishes ( According to Bobby).
Buba's Special Fried Rice is worth trying as it is unique and tasty.
We were awoken by a gentle knock on the door, and a kind waiter had brought us hot bed tea - it was the perfect wake-up call. We quickly got ready and headed to the hotel's complimentary breakfast. Over breakfast, we planned our day and decided to hire a taxi to tour Galle and stop at Hikkaduwa and Bentota for dinner before returning to the hotel. The hotel manager helped us rent a Nissan Caravan, and our driver, Sampath, was friendly, informative, and spoke English, which was important since most locals spoke Sinhalese, except for the northern region where Sinhalese and Tamil were spoken. We shared our schedule with Sampath, and it seemed like we had planned the day well.
After setting off in the Nissan Caravan, we made a stop midway for lunch at a roadside restaurant. We tried a local Sri Lankan delicacy, which consisted of rice with Sri Lankan dal curry and unripe jackfruit curry. The flavors of the Sri Lankan cuisine had a certain resemblance to Kerala cuisine in India. To quench our thirst, we also had tender coconut drink, and took a few moments to capture the memories.
The journey to Galle was a delightful one, with smooth roads and breathtaking views that we thoroughly enjoyed. We arrived in Galle around 2 pm, a major city in Sri Lanka that was once referred to as "Qali" by the Moroccan scholar and traveler Ibn Battuta. The city has a strong Portuguese and Dutch influence, evident in the fortified city that was built by them during the 16th -17th century. We reached the Galle Fort around 2:15, known as one of the largest remaining fortresses in Asia built by European occupiers. It was truly an impressive sight. We spent some time shopping at the entrance of the fort and capturing memories through photographs, which we'll cherish forever.
After spending a lovely time in Galle, we realized that it was already 4:30 pm and we headed towards Hikkaduwa, known as the "Sword of Knowledge". Though we reached quite late and the sun had almost set, the place was breathtaking with an amazing beach. We regretted not coming here earlier and promised ourselves to return to Sri Lanka just to visit this place. Hikkaduwa is famous for board surfing and offers an incredible nightlife. If you are a beach lover, this place is a must-visit. We shopped for souvenirs to take back home and soon headed towards Bentota. Even though it was dark and we had a feeling of skipping Bentota, we decided to have a look and get an idea of the place for our future trip. We had already planned to have dinner at Bentota.
We arrived in Bentota, a small town in the southern region of Sri Lanka that derives its name from the Bentota River bank, which is said to have been ruled by a demon named Ben. We were running late and it was almost time for dinner, so we decided to head to a restaurant called "Golden Grill". If you're in Bentota and have a taste for Sri Lankan and Indian food, this place is a must-visit. The food was fantastic and we couldn't find anything to complain about. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and began planning for the next day. We decided to visit Kandy and the Elephant Orphanage Camp on the way. We asked our driver Sampath if he could accompany us for the next two days, and he agreed. Finally, we reached our hotel and went straight to bed, exhausted from the day's adventures.
Day – 4
At 9:00 AM, we got ready and enjoyed the complimentary breakfast provided by the hotel. Our Nissan Caravan arrived on time and Sampath was punctual, arriving at our hotel at 9:30 AM sharp. Before leaving the reception area, Ajay and Bobby were captivated by the antiques on display and took some photographs.
we left the hotel at 9:30 am with Sampath driving the Nissan Caravan. We snapped some pictures of the antique items in the hotel's reception before getting on the road. Our first destination of the day was the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage Camp. It took us about two hours to get there, and we arrived at around 11:30 am. It's worth noting that Sri Lankan elephants are the biggest of the Asian elephants.
At the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, we were able to witness the important work being done to care for and breed endangered Asiatic wild elephants. It was a wonderful experience seeing so many elephants and we even had the opportunity to feed them. We made sure to capture some unforgettable moments with these magnificent creatures.
At approximately 1:00 pm, we left the camp and stopped at a nearby restaurant for lunch. Although the food was not exceptional, we simply needed to recharge before continuing our journey to Kandy. We were intrigued by the stories we had heard about Kandy and were eager to discover what the place had to offer.
.As we drove towards Kandy, we were surrounded by numerous tea plantations, and the sight was breathtaking. Kandy is not only a religious hub, but also holds significant historical importance as it was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings. The city is home to the revered "Temple of the Tooth" relic, a sacred place for Buddhists. We arrived in Kandy at approximately 3:30 pm and found it to be quite crowded, much like Colombo. Our first stop was the Sri Dalada Maligawa Buddhist Temple. However, since both Ajay and I were wearing shorts, we were not permitted to enter the temple premises as the dress code requires clothing to cover the lower part of the body. We borrowed wraparounds from the local cloth vendors to comply with the dress code and were finally able to enter the temple. Here are some pictures from our visit to the temple.
After leaving the temple, we felt a sense of peace and tranquility in our minds. We decided to take a stroll around the city and grab some coffee at a nearby restaurant before heading back to the hotel to call it a day.
We enjoyed some coffee with snacks, and I couldn't help but notice the similarities between Sri Lankan and South Indian coffee. Afterward, we decided to head back to our hotel, arriving around 8:00 pm. We then made plans to have dinner at one of the beachfront restaurants, although I cannot recall which one we chose. What I do remember is the serene ocean, endless stretches of silver sands, star-filled sky, and the company of my two childhood best friends. It was a picturesque moment that remains etched in my memory. We savored grilled fish with fried rice, along with a couple of drinks, before retiring for the night.
Day – 5
Day 5 was New Year's Eve, which was the main reason for our trip to Sri Lanka. We had decided to spend the night in Colombo and booked our stay at OZO Colombo, where the New Year's party was happening. After checking out of Ranveli Beach Resort, we headed to Colombo and reached OZO at 11:00 AM. We took some rest and started getting ready for the party, which began at 7:00 PM. The party had an amazing crowd, great music, and went on until 3:00 AM. We partied like there was no tomorrow and had a blast at the best New Year's Eve party ever. I don't even remember what time I went to sleep. Check out some of the pictures we took during the party.
Day – 6
On this day, we had a late start and woke up around 10:00 am, but luckily breakfast was still available, so we had a hearty meal. Cherry, Bobby, and Ajay decided to go out for some shopping, but I wasn't interested and decided to stay back at the hotel to relax. When they returned in the evening, Bobby and I went for a walk in the streets of Colombo. While strolling, we stumbled upon people flying kites near the beach, which looked like a kite festival. We decided to join in, as it had been ages since we flew kites. It was an exhilarating experience. As we returned to the hotel, we felt a strange sense of melancholy, knowing that we would have to leave Sri Lanka and head back to India the next day. Despite this, we knew that we had made beautiful memories during this amazing trip.
On the final day, we packed our bags with the wonderful memories we had made and promised to return to explore the places we couldn't visit this time. As we concluded our Sri Lankan trip, I vividly remember the serene ocean, endless stretches of silver sands, star-filled skies, and my two best friends by my side. This trip made me realize the strength of my bond with my childhood friends, and even now, I cherish these beautiful memories.
Some tip which I can offer:
Most places accept debit and credit cards, but if you need Sri Lankan currency, you can exchange it at the airport and exchange it back when you leave.
The ideal time to visit Sri Lanka is from December to March.
Travel light since you can buy most items in Sri Lanka, and they are often economical.
Carry bottled water since tap water is not safe to drink.
Most Sri Lankans in urban areas know English, and signboards are in English.
Please do not litter since Sri Lanka is one of the cleanest destinations in the Indian subcontinent.
Try at least one local delicacy, and do not miss the Ceylon tea.
Internet access is freely available in most hotels and restaurants.
If you have time, try to explore the north of Sri Lanka, which is serene, less crowded, and less explored.
Sri Lanka is a safe country, and the locals are friendly and helpful.
You can apply for a Sri Lankan visa online if your nationality requires it.
If you are traveling alone, use public transport, which is economical.
Keep in mind that most tourist places or places of historic importance have entry fees, so budget accordingly.
Do not forget to bring a first aid kit.