Spring Break in Sri Lanka!

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Hi Buddha!! This guy is chilling at the bottom of Adam’s Peak.

I have had a few people ask me to write about my Spring Break in Sri Lanka. I literally have about a week left in Amman, and it’s finals week… don’t even ask me how I have time to write this lol!!

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Yellah bye Urdon!

The idea to go to Sri Lanka was planted in my mind last semester during finals week when A. heard from a CIEE employee that tickets to Sri Lanka were pretty cheap. A quick search revealed they were less than $500 round-trip from Amman, which is comparable to Europe! After convincing a whole host other friends to come along, we had a full group and bought tickets. Whoo! That was really exhilarating…. but then we had to actually plan out our trip because you can’t go to Sri Lanka and just stay in one city. Thankfully, everything worked out in the end, and our vacay was so perfect! Sri Lanka is literally paradise! Here is my vacation day by day:

March 20: Fly out to Dubai + 10 hour layover

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An accidental selfie with the view from the Burj Khalifa. My reflection showed up when I used flash, creating this awesome shot!

One reason why our flights to Sri Lanka were so cheap was because we had 10 hour layovers both ways. On the way to Sri Lanka, we had a 10 hour layover in Dubai at a decent time in the day. So after a few hiccups in the Dubai airport, we headed straight to the Dubai Mall via metro - using reliable public transportation again was SO NICE. Also Dubai is so clean!!! There is no trash everywhere like Amman.

The Dubai Mall is a massive mall with as much Western-style food as we could possibly want and expensive shops and an aquarium and even an indoor skiing/snowboarding area! Wuttt.. And the Burj Khalifa is conveniently connected to it!(: So after enjoying lunch and gelato and “timbits” from the Canadian cafe Tim Horton’s, we raced over to the Burj! It was perfect timing too because we got there right around sunset <3

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Looking out the window at the incredible view from the Burj Khalifa.

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Hands out the window at the Burj Khalifa!!!

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The view from the Burj…

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Enjoying Timbits and gelato in front of A.‘s fav Canadian cafe Tim Horton’s. She was literally talking about this place for weeks before we went!

March 21: Day 1 in Sri Lanka, head to the city of Kandy and visit the Temple of the Tooth

We arrived in Colombo airport at 4:50 am and then headed straight to Kandy via our pre-arranged transportation from the Hotel Mango Garden. Our driver Neil was super chill, and most of us slept during the 3-hour van ride. Also, the driver’s side of the car is the right, just like in England! lol. Here are my first glimpses of Kandy from the window of the van:

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My first impressions of Sri Lanka is that the entire country is just a big, beautiful, green forest. Ahh, so refreshing! Our hotel, the Hotel Mango Garden, was so gorgeous and clean! After checking in, we went to find some lunch, and we were unpleasantly surprised by a catcall from a passing car. Thankfully it was just one of 2 times I was catcalled in Sri Lanka! Compared to Amman where it happens like 20 times a day….!

We spent a bit of time walking around the city center, and then indulged A.’s dream of buying saris when we discovered Saree Kingdom. ALL of us bought saris and decided to have a sari party on our last day in Unawatuna. More on that later(: In the late afternoon, we went to see a “cultural dance performance” - none of us knew what that entailed! It was actually quite fun but ALL of us fell asleep - blame it on literally staying up the entire night from Dubai to Colombo lol. Later that night we visited the Temple of the Tooth, which is supposed to be where Buddha’s tooth is kept. You can read more about that here if you are interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_of_the_Tooth

This first day in Sri Lanka was honestly just exhausting and I think we were all going crazy by the end of it. Showers and sleep were absolutely necessary to get everyone back on track for our next adventure!

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First meal in Sri Lanka, curry and rice. I ate veggie curry for most of my meals here, which was so perfect and delicious! Nommm(:

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The group - in front of Kandy Lake.

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A scene from the cultural dance. Credit to R.

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Us at the Temple of the Tooth!

March 22: Day 2 in Sri Lanka: elephants and the spice garden!

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The elephant-lovers group!

On this day our group split into 2 with half wanting to go on the tea garden tour and half going on the elephant riding tour offered through our hotel. I was in the elephant group, and it seemed that the other group had just as much fun as us! (:

After breakfast, me, A., L., and R. embarked for Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. When we got there we were surprised to find that there was literally a car race going on right next door. Weird. Me and R. rode on one elephant and A. and L. on the other. The actual riding part was a bit scary because the elephant is SO BIG. When we were going downhill, I thought we would fall off! I refused to do the “elephant shower” which involves getting sprayed with water from the elephant’s trunk, but we did scrub the elephant which was fun! I felt really weird about participating in animal tourism though, because I can’t even imagine how much work they put the animals through during high season!

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Going downhill!

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Elephanting!

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R. getting her elephant shower.

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These cuties were totally posing for pics afterward!

After the elephants we visited Kandyan Spice Garden, which houses all the secrets of Ayurvedic medicine. I am not even kidding. Also, we got to try a bunch of their products and got awesome massages! (: I really want to learn more about Ayurvedic medicine when I have time! Then we visited a tea factory and got to see how tea is made. Sri Lanka is the 3rd or 4th top exporter of tea in the world (depending on who tells you!).

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Finding my favorite plant ever (cocoa!) in the spice garden!

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In the tea factory.

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Enjoying tea and recovering from our day’s adventures!

In the night we left for Dalhouse to prepare for our hike to Adam’s Peak the next day!

March 23: Day 3 in Sri Lanka: Adam’s Peak!!! + first night in Unawatuna

Adam’s Peak is so named because of the “footprint” at the top that is considered Adam’s footprint for Christians and Muslims or it is considered the footprint of Buddha for Buddhists. Climbing to the top is considered a holy pilgrimage and it is definitely something special to be treasured.

Our group awoke at 1am to prepare to leave from our hostel to Adam’s Peak at 2am. The idea is to reach the top before the sunrises so that you can watch it from the peak! The entire way is a guided by a set of paved stairs, but it is still 5,500 steps to the top which was quite hard!!! In total, we took 8 hours going up and coming down (because downhill was not too much easier than uphill!). But getting to the top and watching the sunrise was SO WORTH IT. Also it was surprisingly chilly at the top despite being warmed up from the exercise!

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Here we are excited for the climb!

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At the top, loads of people were preparing to see the sunrise.

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I am so happy we all made it to the top!

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The sun literally rose up from the mountains. It was so beautiful!

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Ringing the bell at the top of Adam’s Peak.

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I still can’t believe how incredible it was to climb to the top!!

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Everyone marching down…

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Here is a view of Adam’s Peak - and this is not even from the very bottom!

When we all returned to the hostel from our epic climb, it already time to hop in our prearranged van and head to Unawatuna, a beach town that was about 5 hours away. Our lodging in Unawatuna was a beautiful beach-front house and our host Amal was super cool! Unawatuna was so relaxing and thus the perfect place to recover from our lack of sleep and tough climb!

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Our backyard in Unawatuna.

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R. is showing me just how excited she is to have a beach for our backyard for 3 nights!

March 24: Day 4 in Sri Lanka: Unawatuna + Galle

On this day we enjoyed our beautiful beach backyard and then went to neighboring city Galle which is known for its Dutch architecture. This was a generally chill day(:

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The Dutch fort in Galle.

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A beautiful sunset in Galle.

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Me and A. getting the ridiculous jumping pic that we wanted!

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The Galle lighthouse.

March 25: Day 5 in Sri Lanka: Snorkeling + Sari Party for our last night in Unawatuna and to celebrate A.’s bday

We went snorkeling around Jungle beach on this day - and honestly it was so awesome. That was the best snorkeling experience I have ever had - I saw so many colorful types of fish and I really felt at peace just floating around in the water. <3

After this we had chilled for a bit, then prepared for our Sari Party!! This was complete with a massive meal that we had arranged with our host Amal and then some yummy drinks to celebrate A.’s 21st! I loved getting dressed up, but the saris were so hot because they are a lot of fabric, so we took them off after photos.

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The dinner all set out - it was a lot of meat/fish, but there were plenty of veggies for me!

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Sari me!

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We love sari-ing! Sari, not sorry!

March 26: Day 6 in Sri Lanka: Last morning in Unawatuna, drove to Colombo

For our last morning in Sri Lanka, we just lounged around and recovered from our sunburns. Then hopped in the van for our 2 hour drive to Colombo, where we were met with super-heavy monsoon rain! It came out of nowhere. I didn’t do much this day but I remember having a lovely conversation with my little sis N. via FaceTime - we actually FaceTimed many of the nights I was in Sri Lanka, which I really appreciated. Love you, boo! <3

March 27: Day 7 in Sri Lanka: Colombo

Our last day in Sri Lanka was spent in Colombo, the capital city. It was actually crazy how busy and crowded this city is compared to the other towns we had been in! After breakfast, we headed to Petti, the shopping district - this is essentially Wast al-Balad in Amman but it smells worse in Sri Lanka lol. It was hot and tiring but I was SO HAPPY when we accidentally stumbled upon the Red Mosque - I had been a bit sad that we would not get to see that work of beauty without actually realizing that it would be right there for us in Petti. Lol. After Petti, we got gelato and then headed to the airport to head home…

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The Red Mosque. It was such a pleasant surprise to see this smack dab in the middle of the crazy area of Petti!

After our Colombo adventures, we drove over to the airport then flew to Kuwait City, killed our 10-hour layover next to Starbucks and then finally flew home to Amman. It was nice to be home after awhile gone! I missed my host fam <3

For my next post, I am planning to write about basically everything else I have done in Jordan, and then I am off to America on the 15th. I am feeling so bittersweet about this because I am sad to leave my Jordanian friends and fam and everything! But I am also just ready to feel settled again for a little while. I will write more about this in the next post tho!

Until next time,
Shimmy

 
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