Let’s talk “unexpected” today! Being chased by elephants on a safari, killing extra large cockroaches in the hotel bathroom, changing all our plans to go to another city only to buy train tickets, waiting 6 hours at a train station, escorting little frogs out of the hotel room, walking on pitch black roads with bats the size of an eagle flying above us… What a crazy week!
We’ve lived our fair share of adventures and it’s been only 15 days since we arrived in Sri Lanka. And before we write all of our awesome travel guides about this beautiful country, we’ll give you a glimpse of the unexpected experiences we have had this past week (not to mention everything from the week before lol).
The surf town! We based ourselves here so we could visit some famous beaches around the area and since there’s a train station right in the city center, this was the perfect place to stay. Our beach-front hotel cost 14 euros per night and all of the restaurants on the promenade accepted cards (is this heaven?!).
Surf town and all that, of course, we had to try a surf lesson! Bruno was the brave one this time around and he managed to surf a whole wave by the end of his one-hour session.
We started our days with toast and coconut spread on the rooftop of a place called Hangtime Hostel, with the most beautiful view of the beach. Unfortunately, on one of those mornings, we saw a tuk-tuk accident unfold right in front of us… People got really hurt and we were so afraid of getting in a tuk-tuk that day that we walked for over one hour to the next town when the ride would have taken just about 15 or so minutes.
The next town is Mirissa, famous for its Coconut Tree Hill. We hiked to its not-so-secret Secret Beach and had the most amazing encounter with wild Red Monkeys crossing the dirt road and jumping trees right next to us. It was as mesmerizing as it was terrifying hahaha we’re always so suspicious of monkeys for some reason.
Needless to say that Coconut Tree Hill is indeed a jaw-dropping place. We managed to catch the sunset there and it was definitely one to remember! On our way back, though, we couldn’t find a tuk-tuk and it was power cut time. The roads were getting pitch black and we could see bats the size of an eagle flying above us… not the most comfortable walk home. We did manage to catch a tuk-tuk after a few meters!
Our original plan after finishing our trip in the South was to make our way up to Udawalawe National Park for a Safari and then up again for Ella and Kandy. We’d given up on the safari after just a few days in Sri Lanka… there was no way we could make it to a National Park affordably because of the gas crisis.
And since going up this way was not possible, we hopped on a train back to Colombo and then another one to Habarana: a small town in the middle of nowhere. We managed to buy first-class train tickets and go seated on an air-conditioned wagon (thank heavens!), but the journey took 3 hours to Colombo, followed by a 6-hour wait and a 5-hour train to Habarana. This whole journey cost us 1/10 of hiring a private driver – the only way to stick to our original plan.
We arrived in Habarana late at night during a power cut. The train station is merely a block of cement a few meters long and everything was pitch black. There was not a single tuk-tuk in sight… Thankfully (how many times will we thank heavens during this trip?!), the hotel owner decided to wait for us at the train station and picked us up (instant relief when he approached us).
Long story short, this city that didn’t promise a single thing is where we finally managed to go on our oh-so-dreamed safari and it was a blast! At Habarana Eco Park the chances of seeing elephants are very small, but so is the price so we decided to take the risk. We saw a whole family of elephants, and even got chased by a big mama elephant.
Nick got her knee injured during the safari though, she had a minor twist when hopping on the jeep, but nothing too serious. So the next day we moved again, still within the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka, to a city called Dambulla.
We’re at this very moment sitting on the porch of our hotel in Dambulla, along with mosquitoes, lizards, frogs, dogs, and God knows whatever else. Just helped a frog out of our room… No idea what will follow but Nick’s knee is being taken care of by our lovely hosts and we hope to get back to adventure as soon as possible!