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Friday, July 1, 2016

TOP 10 Things To Do in Sri Lanka


Hello lovelies! During the early of June, I had the most spontaneous decision - to book an flight ticket the very last minute to en route to a tear-shaped island called Sri Lanka. My mum did asked me quite some time if I wanted to travel to Sri Lanka with her but I was hesitant at that time. Due to the fact that she travel to Sri Lanka for a purpose - doing volunteering work at a couple of Buddhist Monastery and giving donations and offerings to the monks. Literally few days before my departure, I made my decision to follow her. 

Therefore I've complied 10 things that I did in Sri Lanka and perhaps, it can give an idea of what attractions to see and do when you visit! 

#1 SPEND A NIGHT IN A BUDDHIST MONASTERY 
I spend my entire trip staying in Buddhist Monastery. Not just one but 2 monasteries in different location. The first few days I stayed in a temple in Kottawa, suburb city of Colombo. During our stay, we sleep on the floor with thin floor mats with a huge group of people in a big hall right behind the temple along with outdoor bathrooms. I wasn't surprised because we were informed that the temple might not provide any beds in the monastery unless you brought your own sleeping bag. 

The last few days, we moved to a Buddhist Monastery in Kurnegara (literally translates "Elephant Rock" in Sinhala), a major capital city in North Western Province. They are known mainly on agriculture such as coconut, rubber and rice. The entire journey was about 2 hours away from Colombo and going to the temple was pretty difficult as we need small vehicle to get through. I was being told that there might be snakes, lizards or scorpions appears during on our stay but I wasn't surprised as there were paddy fields nearby. Fortunately, the temple is in full form as they provide rooms with beds along with indoor bathrooms. The picture shown above is the monastery in Kurnegara as it is influenced with Chinese culture while the temple in Kottawa is a Sri Lankan Buddhist Monastery. 


#2 VISIT FAMOUS TEMPLES IN SRI LANKA 
Sri Lanka's population are predominantly Buddhist and they were known to be the oldest continually Buddhist country, Theravada Buddhism being the major religion since 2nd century BC. Hence, most of the temples are mostly enriched with history for thousand of years. For the entire trip, I visited 4 of the most famous and iconic temples that was known in Sri Lanka. 

Tip for you: White clothing are compulsory in some temples and are usually barefoot to enter the temple. I advised to wear white clothing and sandals (Sri Lanka weather is unpredictable) 

GOLDEN TEMPLE OF DAMBULLA 
Famously known as UNESCO World Heritage Site, this cave monastery was the largest and best-preserved cave temples in Sri Lanka. The cave monastery was pretty high up and it took a few minutes to walk up before reaching the top of the hill. 
The bottom of the hill, there's a Buddhist museum and library.  

The view was breathtakingly beautiful as you are able to view the mountains nearby   

Is it me or the view just reminds me of the Disney movie, Lion King?

Yes, the temple is filled with monkeys roaming around and we were advised not to bring any food unless you're planning to feed them.  
Monkey's way of friendship: You check my flea, I check your flea.

 Inside the cave, the ceilings are painted with intricate patterns of religion images following the contours of the rock.

While on the way up, we are able to buy some lotus flowers for offering to the Buddha 

Look at that baby Monkey!

RIDI VIHARAYA
Ridi Viharaya or the Silver Temple which was founded since 2nd Century BC. Located in the Northeast of Kurnegara. The only significant thing I recall when I saw this temple on my camera was Jackfruit. The history about the temple and Jackfruit was pretty long, so I suggest find out more on Wikipedia lol
Inside the temple cave, the ceilings were beautifully painted with brightly colours but we were not allowed to take any photos during the visit. Honestly, pictures can't do any justice until you see it for yourself. 

Faded Buddha paintings on top of the temple 

TEMPLE OF THE SACRED TOOTH RELIC 
Sri Dalada Maligawa or Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic was located in Kandy, Sri Lanka. This temple was one of the iconic places to visit in Kandy and it was known as World Heritage Site. During the ancient times, the Buddha relic holds an important role as it was believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country. On the day of my visit, I was lucky enough to see the tooth relic (housed in a golden casket) where it was kept away from the public eye for every 11 months! However, I was able to see the casket as the allowed distance was about few meters away. 


The temple was filled with people and I needed to queue in order to view the relic and it was scheduled from 8am till 10am.


Small stalls along the streets right outside the temple 

KELANIYA TEMPLE
Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara or known as Kelaniya temple, located in Kelaniya which was 7 miles from Colombo. It was believed that Guatama Buddha had visited this temple as many as three times during his departure in Sri Lanka. This was my last temple visit before I head back to Malaysia. 



Flower and water offerings to the Buddha




#3 SHOP SOME GEMS AND JEWELS 
Once upon a time, Sri Lanka was known as Gem Island (Ratna-Dweepa), known for valuable gems such as sapphires, amethysts and topaz. So, if you're interested to purchase them, make sure you bring your credit cards or cash in US dollars. If you're wondering if i brought any - I wish I'm able to buy at least one Aquamarine Sapphire T-T

#4 FRESH AVOCADOS! 
What can I say? Things I go crazy for - Avocados! Back in KL, Avocado are really expensive. Guess what? In Sri Lanka, it sells only less than RM1 each! If you are good at haggling, you can get more cheaper price. We stopped by a road where stalls sells fresh Avocados in Kandy. As I was told, Sri Lankans eat their avocados sweet by pouring some honey on top or making them into a milkshake. Avocado milkshake, yums. 

If you noticed that the skin looks different from the ones you typically see in supermarkets. 

#5 EATING SRI LANKAN CUISINE 
One of the best things in the trip - food, of course! My expectations would be similar with Indian food, but I was wrong. Despite Sri Lankan staple meals are rice, curry and coconut just like Indian food, the flavours are entirely different. For me, the flavours are more heavily spiced, thin broth, less spicy as well (or maybe i didn't get to eat the spicier curries). Even though, my meals in Sri Lanka are vegan or vegetarian but it still taste really good. I mean amazingly good. The only Sri Lankan dessert I was able to try was Kiri-Pani - traditionally it was made with Buffalo milk curd in a earthenware pots and it is always eaten with treacle (kitul pani) aka Gula Melaka. For me, the dessert taste like yogurt and cheese had a baby lol

#6 DRINK YELLOW COCONUT

One of the recommendations from my Sri Lankan friend is to try King Coconut. The coconut here looks different compared what Malaysia has, definitely something we don't see often. The best time to chug down fresh coconut water on a hot day - sweet and refreshing! It costs about 60 LKR (RM1.60)

#7 WEAR TRADITIONAL SAREE
When you go to Korea, you wear a Hanbok. When you go to Sri Lanka, you wear a saree! If you're walking on the streets in Sri Lanka, you will noticed that majority of women wears saree as daily outfit. If you come across to a saree shop, definitely try out the saree and maybe haggle the price if find the saree that you really like. 

#8 WATCH SNAKE CHARMER PERFORM 
As most people know what is snake charming - playing flute and using hand motions to hypnotize a snake. Typically they will start performing when they see tourists nearby and do aware as they expected a tip when tourists take photos of him.

#9 RIDE A RICKSHAW
Sri Lankan rickshaw is like Bangkok's Tuk-tuk, do catch one for a ride, and trust me, it's another entire experience. 

#10 SHOP IN SRI LANKAN SUPERMARKET
Grocery shopping looks the same in all over the world but they offers mostly Sri Lankan food products such as Wood apple juice, Elephant house sodas, Milo drinks packaged like Capri Sun, Ginger biscuits and many more. The supermarket I went was Aprico Supermarket in Colombo as my mum was shopping for Sri Lankan white rice and red rice and it is pretty affordable. 


The entire trip was amazing and it was definitely an eye-opening experience where I expand my travel horizons by getting know the local culture by visiting the major attractions around and doing something different of what I usually do back home. Of course, I came here not just to travel around - my job as a volunteer had definitely made my entire experience much more satisfying and rewarding. This would not be the last time visiting, as there will be more things to discover in the beautiful country of Sri Lanka. 

Ayubowan, Sri Lanka! 

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