During those four days when I dished out rather bland posts on the blog, I was in the neighbouring country of Sri Lanka. More importantly, I was totally offline in the neighbouring country of Sri Lanka. I decided at the last minute to leave my phone behind and stay away from the internet for the tour. That’s something that I’ve been doing randomly every year and each time it’s a refreshing experience.

The primary purpose of the tour was for the family to visit the Shankari Devi Shakti Peetham in Trincomalee, which was why our tour lasted only four days. I was more interested in examining the island, which had a whole different culture just because it is technically a different country. Honestly, if the island had followed the Indian constitution, it would be easy to believe that the place was another Indian state.

But luckily, this beautiful island is a country of its own. It’s had its fair share of problems over the last few decades, but according to our guide, life is peaceful and enjoyable in Sri Lanka right now. The weather is hot and stuffy, but not unbearable. What is hard to miss is the vast green cover all over the place. There are definitely more trees per kilometer in Sri Lanka than anywhere in India. And that makes for a really beautiful sight.

Another appeal of the country is its rich set of Buddhist monuments, which attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world, but more particularly from China and Japan.

All that said, the main attraction of the island is obviously its collection of beaches. The place may not exactly be a “tropical paradise” but it is close enough. I woke up one morning at 6:30am and took a stroll on a beach, only to find myself all alone there. It was a soothing moment, which finally allowed me to appreciate the beauty of the sea. At all the Indian beaches that I’ve visited, I’ve only ever found chaos, with hundreds of people squabbling for a spot to sit and play with the waves. Compared to that, this early morning visit to the beach was truly enchanting and easily the best part of the tour for me. (Ignore the photo that accompanies this post; that’s not the beach I was on. That’s a stock photo!)

With the good, comes the bad. This being an island, the natives relish seafood. And that means it’s a really tough place to be vegetarian. Maybe we didn’t plan well enough or we simply were at the wrong place at the wrong time, but I didn’t find as many Indian restaurants as I did on the Europe tour. So we had to be content with the limited vegetarian dishes available at the local restaurants. That brings us to the prices.

When we discovered that one Indian rupee is equal to a little over two Lankan rupees, we thought we would have a lot of fun with currency. We were so wrong.

Sri Lanka is a terribly costly country to live in! That could be explained due to the fact that it’s a small island that is smaller than the state of Telangana; so everything is either imported or produced in small quantities.

To give a quick example, a liter of milk currently costs INR 40 in Hyderabad. It costs ~ INR 160 in Kandy (a popular tourist destination in Lanka) A bottle of water has its MRP printed as LKR 65 (~INR 32.5) but we almost always paid extra taxes for it, with our most expensive bottle of water costing LKR 200!

So yes, it was an interesting experience to visit Lanka. The country is extremely friendly towards tourists, partly due to the reason that tourism is one of their most important sources of revenue. Several local guides at various tourist attractions were multi-lingual, with some speaking as many as six languages. If you’re a non-vegetarian who especially loves seafood, you’ll definitely fall in love with the country.

As for me, I’m so happy to have returned to the land of Mirchi Bajjis and Pani Puri.