Before you correct my spelling, I’m not talking about that kind of candy. I’ll admit it though, prior to visiting Sri Lanka I had never even heard of the town of Kandy and actually, to be quite candied…
—I mean candid…
…it is a country I had never really even considered visiting. In my mind, I asked myself:
“What could this small, island-nation possibly have to offer?”
Self then answered, “Book a long weekend trip and check it out.”
Immediately after booking only a long weekend trip and beginning my research, I began to curse—
“D*mn you self!?! Just one weekend simply isn’t long enough!”
Alas, determined to make the most of the little time I had…I hired a driver for the duration of my trip and proceeded to pack as much as I could into four days.
Cinnamon, cloves, coriander…oh my! Sri Lanka can be a foodie’s best friend and a visit to any spice garden will award you with a guided tour of the premises by an expert Ayurvedic Medical Practitioner. Some people see these gardens purely as tourist traps, but they can be quite educational. Although the actual credentials of the ‘doctor-guides’ may be unknown, their knowledge of plants and spices is unparalleled. Even if your intent is not to purchase, it’s great to visit a spice garden simply to learn about the benefits of various spices found in Sri Lankan food and medicine or see how they look in their natural form.
For the nature lovers, this is a great place to wander and easily get lost for a few hours. Located just west of Kandy–beautiful trees, flowers, and fernery abound. Named the Royal Botanical Garden as it was originally an area of sanctuary reserved solely for actual royalty, the prestige of the past is upheld by the manicured majesty of the garden grounds. Though said to be quite crowded by midday during weekends, a visit during off-peak hours (early morning or evening within an hour or two of open/close) provides you the opportunity to stroll, unimpeded by tourists, like a prince (or princess) wandering about your palace.
Having been to the Boseong Green Tea Field in South Korea, I’m still quite convinced it’s one of the most beautifully terraced tea plantations I’ve ever seen. Sri Lanka; however, offers many comparably beautiful locations in its “up” country, which refers to Kandy and the surrounding areas. Additionally, there are several tea factories offering guided tours that breakdown the entire tea-making process from plant to cup. These tours are usually free, involve a cup of tea, and give you the opportunity to purchase tea if you like. My flavor of choice is definitely green tea blended with Soursop leaves.
One of the benefits of having a driver is not having to worry about navigating the Sri Lankan roads and highways, but word to the wise…choose your driver with caution. Considering the high-speeds, narrow roads, and cars constantly weaving in and out of traffic, you’ll definitely want a driver you feel comfortable with. If, like me, you’re in an accident within hours of your arrival…you’ll probably be on edge for the duration of your trip! Between fearing for my life and monitoring the sleepy-eyed driver to make sure he was awake, I definitely didn’t get any rest during my transit from Kandy to the coastal city of Galle. On the bright side, I was wide awake for photo ops every time we drove past something interesting!
The Galle Fort and Old Town Galle offer a glimpse of a bygone era. The fusion of cultures can be seen in structural architecture that combines both Asian and European elements. Visit the top of the fortress for a view of the ocean on one side and Galle city on the other. Being a lover of love and a lover of health, it was nice to see the surrounding areas of the fort being used as grounds for fitness and wedding photoshoots. Though you will come across some litter and the occasional graffiti-splattered abandoned building, The Galle Fort is definitely worth seeing during a trip to Sri Lanka.
I only touched the tip of the Sri Lanka tourism iceberg. If you go, or are thinking about going, then do yourself a favor and stop considering and start planning. Whether a long weekend, a few weeks, or longer…it will not disappoint!