Sri Lanka - Spices, Spontaneity and Sun

As we reached the end of our trip in Sri Lanka, all we could think is that we did NOT want to go home.  We HIGHLY recommend you check out Sri Lanka for yourself!  Starting at number 1 and then ending back at number 1, here is where we went!

We have only posted about our favorite destinations along the way.  You can find a post for number 1, number 2, number 3 (part 1), number 3 (part 2), number 5, number 12 and number 14.

Background on Getting Around

We had just about two weeks in Sri Lanka. Given all we wanted to see, the slower pace of public transit wasn’t really an option for us.  So, we hired a guide/driver to take us around. It was extremely convenient to travel via car, and Ruwan’s rich knowledge of Sri Lanka was priceless.  Put more simply, there is nothing better than a local to show you around a place, especially given that there are so many things to do in Sri Lanka.

If however you do not care to hire a driver, the public transit in Sri Lanka is very usable. In fact, one of the most popular things to do in Sri Lanka is to take the beautiful Kandy to Ella train ride through the hill country. Just beware, it can be a bit cramped and a little chaotic, at least compared to some other places we’ve been.  The public transit in Sri Lanka will however cost you a fraction of what it costs to hire a driver. The only downside I can see to this is you likely wouldn’t have a local guide with you all along your journey.

Another option for getting around is renting your own car.  However, we wanted to spend our time and energy gazing out the windows at the beautiful scenery instead of spending it navigating and paying attention to the road.

The moral of the story is, the best way to get around Sri Lanka is the way that most resonates with you.  No matter how you go, you Sri Lanka’s verdant beauty will not disappoint you.

Sri Lanka – Spices, Spontaneity and Sun

Sri Lanka has one international airport, Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB). If you’re flying in from abroad, this is where you’ll start your trip!  And indeed, this is where we started ours.  Ruwan, our driver, picked us up right outside of baggage claim.  Rigth after, we headed north to Dambula, the town nearest Minneriya National Park which is know for it’s many heards of elephants.

En route to Dambula we stopped at a road side food shop and experienced our first Sri Lanka meal: hoppers and sambal!  Pronounced “hoppas” these bowl shaped rice flour crepes are simple, DELICIOUS, available everywhere, and VERY affordable!  (Dinner for the three of us cost US$1.50)  Cooked in a bowl shaped hoppers-pan, they are served immediately as they are done.  Thus, prepare yourself for a piping fresh hot treat!

Sri Lanka - Spices, Spontaneity and Sun hoppers
Sri Lanka - Spices, Spontaneity and Sun hoppers for dinner

In conjunction with the hoppers is a dish of red spicy sambal in which you can dip your hoppers!  If you’re wondering, “What is Sambal” the answer is as varied as the number of people in Sri Lanka who make it!  But, in short, it’s a spicy accompaniment served along side most Sri Lankan foods.  Most commonly it’s made with a mortar and pestle.  Often, it contains base ingredients such as red onion, lime, chilis and dried tuna.  For more on Sambal, give this a read.

To make your own sambal using the recipe we learned at our homestay (more about that later), check out our sambal recipe!

2. Minneriya National Park

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