We weren’t sure what our favorite parts of being in Sri Lanka would be when we first decided to visit this small, island country but what we envisioned and what the reality was were much different than we could ever had expected. This list of favorites is in no particular order.
Oh, and this is MY list. Not what my family loved the most.
My Top 6 Favorite things about Sri Lanka:
EATING WITH OUR RIGHT HANDS
We had researched in advance the culture, traditions, how to act in public as a tourist and how to eat your food.
There is such a thing as “Poop Hand” in Sri Lanka and many Arab and Indian cultures. Basically, your ‘wipe’ with your left hand therefore you never put it near your mouth or food. Your right hand is your eating and hand shaking hand. We had the last laugh though because we all are right handed wipers.
Anywho, you eat everything with your right hand, your rice, sandwiches, rotti’s, eggs, everything. It’s AWESOME! I really thought I’d hate it and that it was dirty but I was wrong.
All restaurants, even the dirtiest hole in the wall, all had a sink to wash your hands in before and after eating. They use paper to dry hands. If you see a stack of papers, then those are there for you to dry with so pretend you’ve done this a million times. Once we figured this out people would stare at us in awe that we actually knew what we were doing.
Locals watch us eat. Especially Alex. For some reason they smiled and pointed when she at most of all which irritated her. She wasn’t eating like a pig nor was she being too pristine so it must’ve been the way she scooped the food and got it into her mouth.
I liked it the most out of all of us. I miss eating with my hand. Really. I got really good at it and had it all figured out by watching others eat. The thumb is an important part to use in your technique.
Initially, I thought that Curry and the Sri Lankan cuisine would be the thing I least liked.
I still think about Deviled Chicken. It’s a chunk of chicken with bone (usually) that is lightly floured and then fried and has a bit of a sweet sauce on it (like sweet and sour sauce in Chinese dishes) served with veggies (usually in a light gravy) and white/fried rice. You just mix it all up with your fingers and go to town.
I even liked some of the curries. While I won’t order anything with curry unless it’s the only sort of thing on the menu, there were a few dishes such as potatoes with curry. It’s really a more mild curry and can offset some of the spicier sides with your meal. I loved it! We had it many times served different ways with different ways but this style was my favorites.
We learned about and fell in love with Egg Rotti’s and tried so many dishes and meals that were out of our food palate comfort zones. Over all, the food was great. The worst thing we had was pizza from Pizza Hut. It wasn’t good and we all felt fat and had eaters remorse after.
We LOVED this beach. We were only there for one afternoon but it was hands down our favorite beach in all of Sri Lanka. The color of the sea here is gorgeous. See our featured photo…no filters!
There are a million shells that are amazing to collect in the sand. The water is an interesting cloudy sort of aqua blue and it left our skin soft after as opposed to feeling itchy from the salt.
The water had lots of fun waves but mostly we all floated really well in the water. Something about it made us float better. Perhaps there was a higher salt concentration. I don’t know.
The beaches are filled with peddlers but they were the least pushy of all the beaches we have been on. It was the first time we could just really relax on the beach without being horribly pestered.
While we had a hard time starting conversations with locals on buses and in train stations and around town who weren’t trying to sell us something. Locals, I think, were intimidated by there being 4 of us and not having very good English.
See, they learn to read and write English in school every week but they never were taught it conversationally. When a local would chat with us, they were very nice, helpful, curious, and lovely. Most people in Sri Lanka are very poor. A level of poverty we haven’t yet seen elsewhere in our travels.
Just the Tuk Tuk drivers and people in markets were our personal nightmares but everyone else was wonderful.
Our favorite encounter was with a particular family in Galle Fort. We stayed in their AirBnb for a few nights and every day we would have long conversations with our hosts. We also got to get to know their daughter and her 2 little girls. One night we played with them and had a family night. It was GREAT. One of our very best memories of our time in Sri Lanka. We still keep in touch and one day I’m sure we’ll meet again.
BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
Sri Lanka is definitely a place where your dollar goes far…as long as you don’t only stay in touristy places or let yourself be hoodwinked by those who will cheat you because you don’t know better.
We went all over the island, by bus and train, for mere pennies. Our most expensive trip was from Mirissa Train Station at the South tip of the country back up to Colombo. It was 2nd class seating (there was no 1st class for the time we left at)
Before we had gone to Sri Lanka we’d never been anywhere ‘exotic’. Sure, we’ve been to several countries considered ‘3rd world but, we mostly stayed to the resorts we were in or went on tourist excursions.
Sri Lanka was our first time being someplace where we were truly fish out of water. The sights, the smells, the food, people, language, systems, tuk tuks, being mobbed by beggars and sales people at every turn and meeting people we couldn’t communicate well with but who we connected to.
We hadn’t planned on visiting Sri Lanka originally but when we were in the UK all of us were restless to get out of our comfort zone. Sri Lanka afforded us that opportunity.
One day we will return to this little country and visit old friends and make new ones. We will be much more experienced on our next visit and I’m sure our time will be even more fortuitous.