Monday, December 23, 2013

Travel Monday: Eva's Top Five Sri Lanka Travel Experiences 2013

As we near the end of 2013 it makes sense to look back on some of the travel I enjoyed around Sri Lanka this year. If you've been following my blog you'll be aware there has been plenty to of travel and quite a list to choose from! I suppose... when I consider all the places, people and experiences it is interesting to understand how I've narrowed the list down to my final top five. 

I've discovered it's not just a particular place nor solely a pleasurable experience that has led me to the top five. More than anything, it's been the total travel experience - my travel companions; people I've met along the way, the relative ups-and-downs; and of course, the unexpected things that arise on the journey itself.

To read all of my travel related posts, please check out my page which provides a list of my Travels.

My Top Five Sri Lanka Travel Experiences of 2013, in no particular order, are:

Colombo to Jaffna

Eva Stone photo, Dagobas, Kadurugoda Viharaya, Jaffna,
It's wonderful to explore parts of Sri Lanka I've never visited before... people and places that have been a little harder to access in the past, which are now more open to visitors. The journey up and back again was full of surprises! I enjoyed visiting Jaffna, its surrounds and the island of Nagadeepa. The Colombo to Jaffna trip makes my top five because it was certainly one of those adventurous and exploratory journeys.

Although some of these places were not sophisticated or refined, I feel this added to the raw beauty (and in some sense, reality) of the place. From the very basic museums, the police station peppered with bullet holes, untouched beaches and islands, the ruins of the fort and more. It's important to visit these places with your eyes open and see things for yourself, talk to people directly to gain an understanding and be more conscious. It won't be everything, but it's still something. I'm definitely planning another trip up.

For more, you can read my blog post Travel Mondays: Colombo - Jaffna by bus, train, boat and coach.

On the Mahayangana Trail

I remember thinking this trip as being in "road trip heaven". I have a passion for road trips, especially those that take me on windy paths and to unknown places. This one was special for a number of reasons:

    Eva Stone photo, Veddas, Dambana, Chief
  • great travelling companions (you guys are awesome razz - let's plan another in 2014!);
  • wonderful stops along the way (friendly fruit sellers and hospitable tea/rotty vendors); 
  • 18 hairpin bends on the KMP highway (talk about windy paths eek
  • amazing scenery and wildlife, and
  • visiting the Veddas (a step back in time in Sri Lanka's history!). 
To tell you the truth, I'm still reeling from this trip. When I look back at the photos I feel like I'm transported back there.

For more, you can read my blog post Travel Monday: Hairpin bends, monkeys and the Veddas of Sri Lanka.


Eva Stone photo, Sigiriya, Lion Rock, travel, Sri LankaThis is one of the top places and experiences in Sri Lanka - a "must visit" for those who have never been. It makes my 2013 top five list for one main reason - I climbed it with my mother this year. It was her first visit to Sigiriya and a wonderful experience for us to climb Sigiriya together.

I have a few groups of friends planning to visit in 2014 and Sigiriya is on their list of places to visit. I'm hoping to go again and explore different parts slightly off-the-beaten tourist track, which I seem to have missed the other times I've climbed Sigiriya.

In any case, I adore the view from the top of Sigiriya and I've always wanted to take my sketchpad up. Given the heat, lack of cover and my general lack of planning, I've never had the opportunity to make the most of it. Maybe next time cool

For more, you can read my blog post Travel Monday: Exploring Sigiriya Rock Fortress.

"Little England" and "Little New Zealand"

Eva Stone, Lake Gregory, Nuwara Eliya, Up Country, Little EnglandI enjoyed some very lovely road trips up to visit Nuwara Eliya ("Little England") and Ambewela ("little New Zealand") this year.

The former is a regular destination as I'm a fan of tea-tasting, strawberry picking (and sampling), buying fresh vegetables closer to the source, and of course, cooler weather lol.

Eva Stone photo, Little New Zealand, Ambewela, wind farms, sheepThe latter is a new destination I explored this year and it was gorgeous from start to finish - I enjoyed the journey immensely. The  mountainous landscape with its rolling plains, tea estates, farms and smaller villages were stunning. And naturally, I enjoyed the cooler weather as well.

Some of my favorite photos of the year were taken here!

For more, you can read my blog posts Travel Mondays: Tea Estates, Waterfalls and a stopover in "Little England" and Travel Mondays: An impromptu visit to "Little New Zealand".

Kandy Esala Perahera

Eva Stone photo, Kandy, Esala Perahera, Sri Dalada Maligawa, Temple of the ToothThis has to be my top unexpected travel experiences for 2013. It probably also has something to do with why I titled the relevant blog posts "Blessings from Kandy Esala Perahera". I don't think it necessarily matters whether you are religious or non-religious, or even what religion you follow. Essentially, for me, it was just one of those travel experiences that surprised, inspired and can't be simply explained.

I came away from this travel experience feeling uplifted (rather than tired); naturally bonded in a positive sense to the groups of people around me; and blessed to have been at the procession.

For more, you can read my blog posts Travel Monday: Blessings from Kandy Esala Perahera August 2013 - Part 1 and Travel Monday: Blessings from Kandy Esala Perahera August 2013 - Part 2.

* * * * * * * *

Eva Stone, Dunhinda Ella, Waterfall, Badulla, Sri LankaEva Stone photo, ancient rock carving, Buddha
Naturally, there are plenty more travel experiences I would have loved to have included in my Top Five list. Or I could have expanded my list to make it a Top Ten list. But something in me wanted to keep it to a Top Five list.

That said, my other highlights of 2013 would definitely include:

  • Sri Lanka's waterfalls (of which, there are many more than I visited in 2013)
  • Sri Lanka's national parks (Wilpattu and Mineriya are my favorites of 2013), 
  • random treks through the Sri Lankan countryside (including jungles, caves and ancient ruins) and, 
  • various friendly and quirky people (local and foreign) I was fortunate (or meant to) meet on my travels, who made all the journeys richer

To read all of my travel related posts, please check out my page which provides a list of my Travels.


Ajay Jain said...

Hey how are you. I found your blog through Google and I just wanted to say that I think your writing is simply stunning! Thanks for providing this content for free.Nice

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Eva Stone said...

Thanks! Glad you've enjoyed the writing. Wishing you well

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