This is a continuation of our recent adventures in Sri Lanka.Like I’ve previously stated, this country is rich in culture, attractions, and nature, so limiting the highlights to a single post would be a great injustice to the country and its people. I cannot recommend taking the journey enough as it truly widens your horizons and allows you to see things that you won’t see elsewhere.
Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy
This temple is one of the most sacred and important to Buddhists, as it contains the tooth relic of Buddha, and is visited by worshipers and tourists from all over the world.
The visit was definitely one of the sights we were most looking forward to and we did a lot of reading on Buddhism before we went, but nothing could have prepared us for the actual experience of entering the temple.
As we walked from the entrance to the main wing of the temple, we found ourselves caught in a downpour. The sun had already set, so when the sky lit up with lightening, the whole landscape behind the temple seemed to just glow. It was exciting.
Inside, we arrived just as the ceremony was starting, so we got to witness the traditional drumming and offerings being made, as well as taking in the unique architecture and details our guide was thoroughly explaining. Though you can’t really see the tooth, you can glance the stupa it is contained in from a distance. But don’t let that be the focus of the visit, as the temple is beautiful and learning about a whole different religion and culture. I can only imagine what it must be like at festivals and religious days.
On our last day of the trip, we were taken around the area between Beruwala and Galle where we were introduced to traditional mask making, took a river cruise, learned about how Sri Lanka dealt with the 2004 tsunami, and visited a turtle hatchery.
Now it may have seemed gimmicky and overly-touristy, but seeing people making an effort to conserve nature is always a great experience for me. I loved walking around and seeing how they had rescued some turtles and are nursing back to health, in addition to the newly hatched turtles. We learned that they only stay for three days in the hatchery before being sent to the ocean.
One of the cutest incidents happened here: As we were walking around, Ahmad spotted a freshly hatched turtle trying to make its way to the water. It was scorching hot, even for us, so it could have only been even more difficult to survive for a baby turtle in the sand. Thankfully, my husband called someone from the staff over and the turtle was taken to water. Ahmad, in turn, celebrated being a turtle hero.
Indian Ocean sunset
For my ideal vacation, I would have loved to spend more time by the beach, soaking up the sun, and just relaxing. But the program was packed and the distances were huge that we only got two afternoons to spend at the resort. The first was my favorite because we got to stroll by the sea as the sun was setting and enjoy the sound of waves crashing by the shore.
No matter how many sunsets you have seen, you can’t help but be amazed every single time, and this was no exception.
The Spice Garden
As someone who loves cooking and baking, I was pretty excited for this little stop. Sri Lanka is best known for its spices, especially cinnamon, and I was not planning to miss out on stocking my pantry with the best of ingredients. And I am happy to report that we now have more spices than we will ever need, but you don’t go back there every day, do you?
Touring the spice garden started out as quite fun, with a representative showing us different plants and herbs, and giving us the chance to guess which one is which, before explaining how long they needed to grow and mature. I impressed myself with just how much I already knew, and I guess some of the older ladies on the tour were surprised that I was better at knowing spices than them.
On the other hand, I did not enjoy the second part which focused more on herbal remedies and natural treatments. It was clearly a gimmick to sell less-informed tourists worthless products. I mean, people can’t you understand that there’s nothing that is so successful and risk free?
Our Excellent Tour Guide
The trip would not have been the same without our excellent guide Sumith, who truly represented Sri Lanka in the best way possible. It was clear from the way he delivered his information that he was proud of his country and felt a deep attachment to it.
He was always willing to take questions, often going into long discussions that kept us entertained and informed as we traversed the terrain. Even when those in the bus just wanted to sing and dance (I’m not joking), he persevered, doing his job in the best way possible. I felt it was such an honor to be shown around by such a wonderful guide and I know we will get in touch with him again should we ever re-visit.