Round The World Trip – Part 1

If a director of a holiday company was to travel around the world where would he choose and what would he do?

Earlier this year one of our directors did exactly that, for two months. In this 6 part series we show where he went and what he did:

One of the reasons I chose to go to Sri Lanka was because of its variety. It has beaches that border the Indian Ocean, lush inland landscape, abundant wildlife and a deep, rich culture.

I flew from London to Colombo with Sri Lankan airlines. The 10-hour flight was probably towards the upper tolerance threshold for our three-year-old daughter but she managed it thanks to numerous games/videos on the tablet, colouring in books and walks up and down the aisles.

Landing in Colombo you are immediately hit by the warm, humid, close atmosphere. You can feel the moisture in the air which is part of the reason why there is a huge variety of plants and trees in all but the busiest of areas.

A barrage of smiles greeted us as we entered the arrival hall. Partly to welcome us, but mainly to see whether we would like to buy some local currency. You are only allowed to bring in around £20 worth of Sri Lankan rupees into the country and so having so many currency sellers at the airport is actually pretty useful. Unlike your usual corporate, airport travel bureaus, these guys are one-man bands who operate cheek by jowl alongside each other and so it’s pretty easy to get a very competitive rate. You learn straight away that it pays to put on your bartering boots early in this country.

Having battled through the money changers we found our driver. We weaved our way through the fairly chaotic streets of downtown Colombo and around half an hour later arrived at our hotel the Jetwing Beach.

We checked-in at the hotel and were taken to our room. It was a one bedroom suite with living room, ocean view balcony and outside area with an open air shower and bath. It was absolutely stunning with lots of space for us to stretch out after our 10-hour flight.

Having an outside bath and shower was fun. It was completely enclosed and so you didn’t need to worry about being seen but I did have one slightly embarrassing incident when my daughter learnt to use the camera that she got for Christmas and used it through the window when I was taking a shower. Thank God she doesn’t know how to post things on Facebook just yet.

Elsewhere within the hotel were fantastic facilities including a spa, gym and three swimming pools that stretched alongside the beach. There were also a couple of restaurants to choose from including the neighbouring Jetwing Blue hotel which is just a 3-minute walk down the beach.

During our stay, the meals were a good mixture of a la carte and buffet dining. And the buffet wasn’t just a few sorry looking cuts of meat withering under hot lamps. There were around a dozen different food stations with meats, salads, curries and other traditional dishes, many of which were prepared fresh in front of you.

The main restaurant that we ate at was open to the beach and so it was fantastic to be eating fresh food looking out at the beach, palm trees and sea beyond.

 

Things to do Sri Lanka

We wanted to explore the rest of Sri Lanka and so we hired a local guide who picked us up at the crack of dawn and whisked us off into inland Sri Lanka.

We twisted and turned up through mountain roads catching a glimpse of monkeys and tropical birds along the way. Our first stop was a plantation that grows herbs and spices used in traditional medicine. Seeing, cinnamon, paprika, lemongrass, chilli, black paper and basically the whole of your home’s spice cupboard growing in the wild was fantastic. Both smelling and tasting was fun as was hearing about the medicinal properties that the locals claim the various herbs and spices have.

We then carried on and arrived at a small elephant orphanage down by the river. Here we removed our shoes and socks and had a wonderful time washing the elephants in the nearby stream. It turns out that half a coconut shell really does hit the spot when it comes to cleaning, scratching and removing pesky bugs from their skin.

On the basis you can never see too many elephants, we also went to the famous Pinnawala Elephant sanctuary. We saw rescued baby elephants being bottle fed at a pace more in line with filling up your car than feeding a baby. Afterwards, we went to a paper factory that made paper from elephant poo. I thought that substance might be appropriate for a couple of newspapers back home.

We had lunch at a restaurant with a balcony overlooking a bend in the river. It was fantastic having a drink as dozens of elephants washed, splashed, trumpeted and generally cavorted beneath us.

Lunch finished, we continued on our journey stopping at the Geragama Tea Factory. Set within its own tea plantation, this factory processes high-quality tea for consumers all around the world. Despite the fact that neither myself, my wife or 3-year-old actually drink tea it was still a worthwhile visit. We watched an assorted of industrial revolution era machines pounding, whirring, pulling, pushing, shaking and pummelling clean green leaves at one and producing the finest tea at the other.

After a quick brew, we were off in the direction of a town called Kandy. Here we visited Kandy lake and the “Temple of the Tooth” that borders it. While the Temple of the Tooth sounds like the next instalment of the Indiana Jones franchise, it is a very significant place for Buddhism. Legend has it that when Buddha died in 543 BC, a canine tooth was retrieved from the funeral pyre by his disciple and eventually brought to the temple. Whoever has possession of it, it says to be able to rule the entire country.

We toured the temple and the grounds admiring the ancient architecture and watching the worshippers who had come to pay their respects. And just when we thought we had seen our fill of elephants for the day we passed an exhibit to honour one of the elephants that had carried the tooth relic previously. It was a resplendent 10 foot high stuffed Elephant in a glass cabinet. Not exactly what you see every day!

Because our time in Sri Lanka was so short the rest of the trip was spent at the hotel and exploring the local area. If you have a bit more time I would thoroughly recommend visiting Sigiriya rock, Dambulla cave temple and the numerous national parks … where no doubt you can see yet more elephants!!

 

Have we convinced you that exploring this exotic, tropical island is just what you need? Then place an enquiry on our website and our expert travel advisers will contact you shortly! 

 

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