In November 2016, I left Australia to go on a new adventure in Sri Lanka; I spent a month and half there. I haven’t written about it before because my opinion about Sri Lanka was a bit distorted according to the events that happened to me.
Life in the countryside
I volunteered in a Guesthouse, in Tissamaharama, situated in the south of the country. I stayed there for 3 weeks and I mainly had to help with cleaning, answering emails and taking the bookings. But I also had the chance to go and help in the family shop. This was the part I liked the most because I was in contact with the locals and not only the family. I helped with small things but I learned a lot about the culture and the life in the countryside. They taught me how to make samosas and the other rolls you can find in most of the stores. I learned some Sri Lankan language but above all, I learned how important is tourism for them as it is their only way of making money.
Yalla National Park
Yalla National Park, which is a park situated 30 minutes away from Tissamaharama, is the second biggest park in Sri Lanka but the most famous one. It was destroyed by the Tsunami in 2004. It is a park supposed to be famous for its Leopard but I went there three times and I have never seen one. But I saw other very interesting animals such as spotted monitors, Elephants, Crocodiles, many kinds of Birds, wild water buffalo. The thing is, I was very disappointed by the park, not because I did not see any Leopards, but because of the guides’ behaviour. They sell their tour by telling the tourists that they will see Leopards for sure, so they spend most of the time driving around looking for any Leopards and they forget about the rest of the Animals which is such a shame. The second reason why I was disappointed, I guess, is because I compared it to Addo Elephant National Park, in South Africa and it is way smaller (the size of the park but the animals as well). I would rather recommend going to Udawa National Park.
Whale watching on the beach side
To continue with animals, I found out that Sri Lanka is a really good place to do Whales Watching. It is for sure a tourist attraction but really worth it. I paid around 35euros (41US $) for half a day. It was breathtaking when you see this big mammal coming to you and then at the very last moment changing direction, it is kind of scary but also very exciting. I saw around 5-6 Blue Whales, (which apparently is the largest animal on earth), that day. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you can also see Dolphins, Orcas or turtles.
Visit of tea plantations
The country is also much known for its tea. And the South of the Country has a lot of Tea plantations. The most famous areas to visit those plantations are the areas of Ella, Nuwara Eliya. I have been really admirative by the women working in the plantations all day. Especially that the plantations are in the mountains so every day they have to climb to their fields. It can be hours of a walk! Moreover, when they work, they carry a bucket on their back but hanged up to their head.
Sri Lankan Food
Sri Lanka is a small paradise for the curry lovers. Indeed, when I stayed in my first volunteering, the wife was cooking curries every day. I never saw so many varieties of curry in my life! She made Potato curry, Garlic Curry, Fish curry. A lot of curries were made out of coconut milk which was homemade.
For breakfast, you could find egg hopers, which is a pancake cooked in a wok to give it the shape of a nest with an egg inside.
As sides, there was pol sambola. It is a mixture of shredded coconut, chilli powder, dry chillies, lemon juice and onions. It is mostly eaten with rice or roti.
In the shop runs by the family they were selling flatbread, samosas and egg rolls that they eat as a snack.
If you want something to drink, you can try the Woodapple juice, the taste is similar to tamarind. And, of course, you won’t have problem to find really good tea!
I was on a trip around the country when I got the first symptoms of the disease (Headache, Diarrhea). But I first thought it was some food poisoning because I never got the fever. So I just let it happen until the day before we were supposed to go climbing Adam’s Peak. I just could not picture myself climbing it. I felt so weak so I decided to go back to Colombo to the place I was volunteering in. My health was getting worse so they sent me to the hospital to do some exams. That’s when I knew I got Dengue. I was Hospitalised for a week (and to be honest it was a really great experience, the nurses were so nice and very careful, I actually made some strong connections there) before getting repatriated to France. It took me more than a month to fully recover from Dengue.
Unfortunately, I haven’t visited as much as I wanted of Sri Lanka because of dengue. And I learned a lot during this trip. Especially with this episode of sickness which made me realise that when you get sick people see you in a different way as if you were a kind of danger to others and that you should be in quarantine. But despite the disease, I kept a really good memory of my trip in Sri Lanka and I highly recommend to visit the country!