Sri Lanka

I spent a lovely 12 Days in Sri Lanka over Christmas with my lovely mum. We flew into Colombo and had a pretty long 4 hour drive to Ahangama, our first stop to stay at Soul & Surf, a surfing and yoga retreat for a week. 

We were greeted by lovely weather- the sun and warmth made a welcome break from the cold winter back home in London. 

Soul and Surf is a beautiful villa with around 12 rooms. It was pretty dreamy. Elegantly decorated with pastel posters and paintings. This is the second surf trip I've been on with my first to Nicaragua.  The food at Soul & Surf was incredible- I had all vegetarian/vegan meals for lunch breakfast and dinner. 

Our local surf beach was called Kabalana. A beach break about a 10 min tuk tuk ride from our villa. On the first day I was so excited to jump into the water. We had a beach lesson with our instructors Simon and Joel (possibly the cutest bromance I have every witnessed in my life) who went tandem surfing in the afternoon together. When it was time to get in the water I completely forgot how to put on a leash... great start... After having quite a few months of not surfing the water was not too forgiving. I face planted and fell MANY MANY times, probably only stood up on a couple of waves. This continued into day 2 and finallly by day 3 it started to click again.

On day 5 we ventured to another beach to try catch some unbroken waves at a place called South Place. Apparently there's a dye factory near by so the water isn't very clean. It was pretty green but I didn't really care I just wanted to practice my timing on the green waves. It was also quite a bit bigger than we'd been surfing previous days. 

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In a two hour lesson I think I stood up once. Most of the time was spent in the impact zone, flailing underwater, taking a beating from the waves while I desperately tried to cling to my board. Safe to say, I absolutely LOVED it. We all drunk coca cola after to wash out our stomachs and prevent any stomach bugs... Although I unfortunately did sucumb to a poor tummy for the next 2 days.

Surfing reminds me that I cannot control everything not matter how much I want to. I'm that typical Type-A personality, I usually hate uncertainty, hate when things don't go to plan and hate being rubbish at stuff. But with surfing it's different, it brings out my inner child and playfulness. The ocean is way to big, powerful and unpredictable and so I am literally forced to go with the flow. 

The last surfing day I plucked up the courage to go out on my own to Weligama which is two bays down from where we were, about a 20 min tuk tuk ride. Slightly nervous as I'd never been surfing by myself before but I caught the best waves from the whole week.  Some other friendly surfers gave me some tips after watching me face plant and in a couple of minutes I finally got the timing right, I wasn't standing up too soon and I was taking the extra paddles I needed! 

After the surf week we started to travel around Sri Lanka. First stop Koggala beach which was only 20 mins down the road. Just for one night to rest and relax.

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We then went to Galle, an old fort. I wasn't too impressed, it was incredibly touristy with the streets mostly shops with overpriced clothes and souvenirs. You only need a couple of hours here. I thought it was very similar to Melaka in Malaysia. 

From there we started travelling up North to the tea plantation area- Nuwara Eliya. What was supposed to be a 4 hour drive turned into an 8 hour drive. My mum and I's whole Christmas day was spent in a car! Can't complain though we were in Sri Lanka after all! This area is called Little England, the temperature really drops and it was raining when we were there. We walked round the tea plantation and got to taste the Ceylon tea which was delicious. 

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From there we took the train to Kandy. While everyone hypes up the train journey's I really did not rate it. It made no difference being in a train to being in a car, we didn't really see anything new. Perhaps the Ella to Kandy route is the one to take?

We arrived in Kandy and had 2 days of seeing temples and the city. Again, I didn't think there was actually much to see. While the Temple of the tooth relic was huge, on the day we went as it was a holiday it was absolutely packed. The gold case where the relic is kept is also not easy to see, its pretty far deep into a corridor where the monks stand as offerings are passed from the members of the public through a small window. 

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After Kandy we kept going up north to Sigiriya rock and Polonnaruwa. Polonaruwa is an sprawling ancient city, which some reviews compared to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. While some parts of the ancient city were indeed impressive, my favorite area was a temple of buddhas all in a circle, other than that, in my opinion, it was not spectacular- Feel free to disagree!

The last day of site seeing we had we went on a Safari which was the highlight of my second week in Sri Lanka becase we got to see elephants. They got SO CLOSE. They are beautiful and majestic and the baby elephants are so cute. My mum brought binoculars along and pretended she was David Attenborough for a while...

Our last stop was Colombo, a urban city, pretty modern in some parts and quite touristy in the area we stayed. Again I probably wouldn't recommend when I compare it to other cities I've visited in SE Asia with much more to do and see.

Overall, I loved the people in Sri Lanka. Everyone was super friendly and helpful. The people are genuine and kind, warm and open. The local cuisine is delicious. I could happily have eaten their curries and coconut sambal for lunch everyday. But in terms of site seeing, admittedly I am lucky enough to be fairly well travelled, so it really didn't compare to other places I've been to like Nepal and Bhutan (Bhutan is NEXT level, my favorite site seeing destination I've been yet). Sri Lanka is expensive so if you're just looking for a beachy holiday, I would probably go somewhere else where you can get more for your money and alternatively, if you're looking for site seeing I would also probably go somewhere else.

The highlight of the trip for me was for sure the surfing and spending some real quality time with my mum. Here's to many more mother daughter trips!

 

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Nicaragua

This is a beautiful county and I only spent 2 week here and didn’t have enough time to see all the parts of Nicaragua and only went to Granada and San el Sur.

Granada was so beautiful, a sleepy town with not many tourists. We stayed at Los Patios, it’s a small boutique hotel. The interior was sleek and the room immaculate. The service was faultless and we felt as if we had the whole place to ourselves!


My favourite thing to do in Granada was simply to walk and explore. The place is so quaint and beautiful with multi-coloured houses on every street. A restaurant I highly recommend is the Garden Café, a super healthy restaurant with fresh produce. Their Hummus was the best and their CWB smoothie was perfect in the heat. We went back pretty much every day!

We also explored the Islets of Granada on a boat tour, where 365 mini islands were created as a result of a volcanic eruption and climbed Mombacho Volcano, we opted to walk it insted of drive and it was a STEEP climb, the guide was not exaggerating.

After 3 nights, we said our farewells to Granada and made our way to San El Sur to start our Surf Camp with Barefoot Surf Camps. I loved the town, it had a Bali-esque vibe just less shiny and touristy. Food was great. I recommend Nacho Libre (veggie burger), Salud (smoothie bowl), Simon Says (salads). The surf was great, not too busy and everyone in the water super friendly. Watching the sunset by the Jesus statue is a must! 

I'll definitely be back!