Deciding to go to Sri Lanka in January is probably in my top ten life decisions. On about Monday, I realised that I’d just spent a whole day in which I’d managed to do every single one of my favourite things except singing - and then the following day my friend Gem found a guitar and happiness was complete.
I spent the first week on a yoga retreat with Humblebee Yoga in this amazing villa in Dondra, right down in the very south of Sri Lanka, and the second week exploring Ella and Kandy. We were completely spoiled in Dondra; a kind of magic, jungl-y idyll, with the most delicious food and wonderful people and trips to see elephants in Udawalawe and to watch whales in Mirissa.
Ella was much busier, a mini-town made up almost entirely of backpackers, but absolutely breathtaking once we climbed up into the mountains and tea plantations. Hiking to the Diyaluma falls for a swim was definitely a highlight! Such a tough climb in the sun, but when we finally crept into the chilly water it was absolute heaven.
We travelled by train from Ella to Kandy, which is said to be one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world, and it certainly did not disappoint - although elbowing your way off the train in Kandy is not for the faint-hearted. Hanging out of the train, however, or sitting in the doorway with your legs hanging out, is glorious (the video below is at double speed! I did it for instagram, so it’s not the best quality, but you get the idea).
I loved Kandy too; it’s Sri Lanka’s second biggest city, with a peaceful lake in the middle of all the bustle and home to the famous Temple of the Sacred Tooth, which was eye-gogglingly beautiful inside. By this point my friend Lia and I were on a crusade to find salad (having had our fill of delicious Sri Lankan curries) and thus mostly navigated Kandy via TripAdvisor-recommended cafés, where we sat and read our books and ate avocado in all its forms (Buono was especially good), and a lovely tuk tuk driver who took us to visit gorgeous Gunatilake Batiks and bought us red bananas and mangoes for the journey (devoured at high speed, with juice running up our sleeves). We also travelled a couple of hours north of Kandy, early one morning, to climb Sigiriya Rock, where King Kasyapa built his palace in the 5th century - it’s quite breathtaking. There is SO much to see and do, I would jump at the chance to go back (this hotel, is now on my dream holiday destination list!).