Thursday, July 26, 2018

Wanderlust - Sri Lanka Edition!

John Steinbeck said, "People don't take trips; trips take people." I've been lucky to experience this a few times - when I moved to Japan to teach English, almost every trip to Paris (because, Paris), my first time in London, and most recently Sri Lanka. I've been home for a day and I keep looking at the (tons of) photos we took and just...smiling with a lot of happy sighing thrown in.

I'll be honest, when my husband first mentioned going to Sri Lanka, I was a little ambivalent. He'd been there when he was a kid and wanted to revisit and introduce it to our kid and I was like, "Ok, I've never thought about going there, but I can't think of any big objections either." Honestly, before he mentioned it, it wasn't even a place I'd thought about visiting. Have you? If's worth the trip

In was AMAZING! The people. The culture. The food (although you'll have an easier time if you like curry. There is western food, but it's not nearly as good.). The scenery. The weather. The wildlife. The only thing NOT to rave about is that it's a long-ass flight, even from the UK, so chances are you'll have a connection in the Middle East somewhere. But - more time to read in transit, right?

Not convinced? Maybe it's better to show you?

If you ever do go to Sri Lanka, take the train from Kandy to Ella. It is breath-taking. Absolutely my favorite part of the trip. Make sure you hang out the door to get the full experience. Don't worry. The train goes a max of 20mph, so it's safe-ish. And it goes into the mountains through tea country, which means the scenery is spectacular!

Tea plantations for as far as the eye can see.

You'll have a chance to go on a few Jeep safaris, which are expensive but if you want to see elephants they're your best bet. Related: baby elephants are adorable.

Monkeys, on the other hand, are plentiful. We stayed at one hotel where they warned us that not locking the door to the balcony was pretty much an invitation to the monkeys to come on in and help themselves. The phrase cheeky monkey exists for a reason! These monkeys were hanging out at the pool and the big one enjoyed hissing at my husband. He thought it was funny. Me? Not so much.

Other highlights included visits to the Temple of the Tooth relic in Kandy, which is a Buddhist temple said to house one of Buddha's teeth rescued from his funeral pyre. There is an annual celebration/pilgrimage in Kandy every year to honor the temple gods (starting today!) that is the grandest of all of these festivals, but we were lucky to see a similar smaller festival in Kataragama.

Temple of the Tooth
Kataragama Perahera Festival

The other festival we saw was a Hindu festival where men pierce their skin with hooks and hang from wooden posts to show their devotion:

Um...that looks like it hurts?

Tuk-tuks are everywhere! They're surprisingly comfortable and perfect for the crazy roads.

Also another elephant. Just because.

So what does this have to do with reading or writing? So far, admittedly nothing! But did you know that Michael Ondaatje (author of The English Patient, among many other novels) is Sri Lankan-born? His book, Running in the Family, is an account of his return to Sri Lanka in the 1970s to dig into his family's history.

Another book that's come highly recommended since returning home is Elephant Complex by John Gimlette, which has gone on reserve at my e-book library, along with Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera. Not one of these books was on my radar before we went to Sri Lanka, but now I'm waiting (im)patiently for them so I can learn a little more about this gorgeous country and it's history. Because that's the thing with wanderlust. There are so many ways to feed it - even when your feet are back on familiar turf.

Tell me what's your favorite book that transports you to a place you've been or want to visit?


Karissa Laurel said...

This is the cheesiest answer, I know, but thanks to the Outlander series, I'm dying to visit the Scottish highlands. But that's not nearly so exotic as Sri Lanka, what a fabulous trip!

Brenda St John Brown said...

I really need to read Outlander, don't I? And I think the Scottish Highlands sound amazing. And a little cold maybe? haha. Honestly, anywhere is amazing if you're ready for it to be, yes?

Carrie Beckort said...

Looks like you had a fabulous trip! Thanks for sharing your photos with us. There are so many places I'd like to go (either for the first time or to go back), and books have inspired many of them. One that I think is feasible is the Biltmore Estates in Asheville, NC. It's actually not too far from us, but we've just never made the time to go. I think my daughter will enjoy it after reading Serafina and the Black Cloak.

Brenda St John Brown said...

Oh, definitely go to The Biltmore Estate. It's fab! And if you can connect it to a book, even better!

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