Two thoughts popped into my head when I received the Sri Lanka flight confirmation email from Cathay Pacific:
1. I’m going to be verrrrrry close to India :/ (not ideal for solo-female travelers)
2. Umm… is this refundable?
This is part one in a series of posts about my trip to Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka isn’t on the top of many lists for travel destinations, or even slightly on the radar, and I’m here to tell you that you need to rearrange your list immediately. I booked this flight on a whim. The power of Skyscanner and Pinterest sold me on the flight and I’m so glad they did. **If you’re unfamiliar with www.skyscanner.com – you can type a departure location, travel dates, and leave your destination blank. It will pull up different locations based on cheapest flights. Sri Lanka happened to be #3 behind Vietnam and Cambodia**
I took a red-eye flight from Bangkok to Colombo, Sri Lanka with Cathay Pacific and it was the most magical flight I’ve ever been on. I knew I was going to land around 2AM so I booked a hotel for the night. I didn’t want to be wandering around Sri Lanka at that hour looking for a safe place to stay. I did a decent amount of research, and by research I mean staring at google images for about an hour, so I figured it was the best option for me.
Normally, I plan everything before I travel but Sri Lanka was different. This was the first time since my Canada road trip that I didn’t plan anything. Why I did this truly came down to laziness. I kept putting off the planning and would get lost in YouTube videos and other destination pictures on Pinterest. But, I’m so happy I didn’t plan anything. I went wherever I wanted, stayed in places that caught my eye, and met amazing people.
Once I got through customs, I grabbed a taxi outside the airport and had him take me to my hotel. My taxi driver, Lucky, spoke perfect English and we had a great conversation about my travel plans – I had none thanks to my expert planning and researching! I told him I had a friend waiting for me at the hotel and we were going to travel together (I was tangled in a web of lies by the end of this trip — more on that later.) He gave me his phone number and told me to call him if I wanted to go anywhere in the entire country and he will be there for me and said “friend.” Good thing he did this because my hotel was horrible.
I walked through a backdoor and a dirty kitchen to meet a man who brought me up to my room which was wide open, sticky hot, mosquitos were everywhere, no net, a leaking toilet, no toilet paper, no towel, no AC, and the best part… dirt crumbles and bloody nose stains on the sheets. Clearly this trip was off to a great start at 3AM! I texted my mom freaking out, I texted my boyfriend in tears, and all I wanted was to be back in my Chachoengsao bubble. Was a solo trip to Sri Lanka a bad decision?! When was the next flight back to Bangkok?! I called Lucky and he didn’t answer, so like every guys worst nightmare, I called excessively until he answered 🙂 I told him my issue and he picked me up at 7AM and asked where I wanted to go and where my friend was (HAHA!). I had no idea where I wanted to go and my friend left for another city (HAHA!). He told me Negombo was a local beach town and would help me relax and feel more comfortable in Sri Lanka before I hit the road to other places.
He knew what he was talking about because I stayed at a perfect hotel. It was right on the beach with a swimming pool and a buffet breakfast. I spent the whole day at the pool listening to music, reading, and napping. Despite the hassle that happened hours before, I knew I was going to be okay on this trip.
I tried to watch the sunset in peace but there were too many people trying to sell souvenirs. Finally an English man came out of the water to joke around and ask if I wanted a scarf, or an elephant figurine, or a boat, or a bracelet… all came with a great price! I laughed and said he must understand what it’s like as a foreigner in a tourist area. He told me he used to live in Sri Lanka and bought property out in Ella to renovate into his dream hotel. Well, many years had passed and the hotel was never completed but he loves Sri Lanka too much to part with the land. We talked for awhile and he was an excellent resource. He told me everything I needed to know about the best things to see and how to get there and where to stay. He was a blessing in disguise. He gave me the confidence I needed to establish an outline of an itinerary.
I called Lucky immediately and asked if he was available to drive me to Kandy, Sri Lanka the next day with a stop at the Elephant Orphanage. He was, and this epic adventure was just about to begin.