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Adventures with John & Nina – Land of the Monkeys – Sri Lanka

Updated: Oct 19, 2018

by Nina Sabin - Travel

Another Eid Hoiday, another adventure! This Eid Holiday, Eid al-Fitr, we traveled to Sri Lanka. For those of you who don’t know where Sri Lanka is – it is located just below India and is separated by the Indian Ocean.

There is about 70 days between the Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr. Eid -al Fitr is after the month of Ramadan. It is also known as the event when fasting ends. Eid al- Adha is the later of the two. That is why it seemed like we were always traveling.

At this point we already felt like established “world travelers” as we had traveled to 10 countries in 18 months.

As with every trip, no matter the length of the flight, you leave the plane feeling exhausted. Traveling takes a toll on the body. Plus, most flights out of Saudi or Bahrain leave in the middle of the night, so it takes a day or two to catch up on our sleep.

We usually like to do most of our traveling independent of a tour guide. However, in Sri Lanka, you really can’t do this. We toured for seven days with our own tour guide. He picked us up in a nine passenger van (even thought it was only the four of us) at the airport and stayed with us as driver and tour guide for the entire trip. It was definitely worth it and it was pretty inexpensive and there is NO WAY we were going to drive there. The whole concept of not passing on a two-lane road when there is on-coming traffic is a very foreign concept there!!

Our tour began right after we arrived at the Colombo airport. We were off and ready to explore. We started with visiting the Elephant orphanage in Pinnawala. It was amazing to see these incredible animals close up and in their natural environment. We also had the opportunity to see the animals bathing and feeding the baby elephants milk through baby bottles.

We arrived at our hotel in the afternoon -Cinnamon Lodge Habarana. We were so tired that once we checked-in, we all took a nap. We woke up to our youngest daughter jumping and screaming with excitement as she said the ground outside is covered with monkeys. We opened the door to our cottage and sure enough there were monkeys EVERYWHERE - in the grass, in the trees, next to the pool, and on the roofs of the lodge. No matter where you went around the hotel there were monkeys. It was quite a site!

Another creature that roamed the grounds was the monitor lizard. They are large and a little scary, but as long as you don’t bother him; he won’t bother you.

Our hotel wasn’t the only place to see monkeys. They were wild pretty much all over Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has many ruins dating back more than 2,000 years. At each ruin we visited it didn’t take much searching to see monkeys.

In the evening, we went to Sigiriya to capture the unbelievable sunset from the top. This is an amazing rock formation that has a very strenuous climb to the top. It is well worth the climb. Of course, we saw monkeys on the rocks as well. At the bottom of Sigiriya are locals selling handicrafts. One of the men was a snake charmer and that was the first time we ever saw, in person, a snake opened the basket and came out while the person played music on his recorder.

We also began our mask collection at this location. We could resist the uniqueness of the mask and now we have close to 50 masks. Not all countries have masks, but if they do we would buy one. We already started our flag and magnetic collection during our first trip – Egypt. So now we have fun searching for these items wherever we travel.

We covered a lot of ground in seven days. We visited five cities in seven days. Here a just the highlights of the rest of the places. After Habarana, we ventured off to Kandy. In Kandy they have Buddha’s tooth. Since we were in shorts, we had to wear sarongs to wrap around our shorts to enter the temple. We are not sure how often, if ever, they washed the sarongs, as John’s had some interesting stains on his. We also saw an amazing cultural show in Kandy with traditional music and dancing.

Our exploration through Sri Lanka brought us from the capital city, Colombo and then we headed northeast to the middle of the country Sigiriya, then back south to Kandy, till we reached the southern part of Sri Lanka in Bentota. There they have beautiful beaches and wonderful beach resorts. We even saw a wedding on the beach where the bride and groom left on a white elephant along the beach. That was quite a unique site.

We have been so blessed to travel and believe God is always protecting us. Soon after we visited both Thailand in 2002 and Sri Lanka in 2003 the tsunami resulting in the Indian Ocean Earthquake happened in 2004. There was such devastation after that event and it took years to rebuild and able to have tourists again.

We finished our trip by spending an afternoon in the capital city. We enjoyed walking around Colombo. We saw old and new architecture unique to Sri Lanka. Of course, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to see handicrafts and taste the spices at the bazaar.

Since that time I have been back to Sri Lanka one more time in 2017. This time I traveled with some friends and we mainly enjoyed the breath-taking beaches in Unawatuna. The sunsets over the beach are incredible; words cannot do justice to the majestic colors. We chose this location because there are a lot of yoga opportunities. SUP yoga was one of the attractions we couldn’t wait to try. It is yoga on a paddle board. Great for balance. We also tried surfing and did a few excursions from Unwatuna: we biked through the villages and took a boat ride to Cinnamon Island; we went on a Safari ride; explored the neighboring little city, Galle, with our guide; and we hiked through the jungles of Sri Lanka. This was in March and it is just after the rainy season. What we didn’t know was that there were leeches everywhere. We spent more time knocking the leeches off of us and then looking at the surroundings. It was something I hope to never experience again. However, we finished the day with a glass of wine and sitting at a restaurant on the beach seeing the fabulous sunset. That made the trip worthwhile.

Overall, I have to say Sri Lanka is one of my favorite countries we have visited. If you like nature and animals, reasonable prices, and friendly people, then I highly recommend visiting Sri Lanka.

Our next blog will be about repat number two and, yes, it will be more than one country.

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