Sri Lanka is right there in the map just near India (Agra, Jaipur and Delhi) and Maldives (that trip). Since we were in the area, we decided to drop by. Yup, it's the most casual thing to do!
Having spent a lot of time (and money) in India, we could afford just a little more to see Sri Lanka. We (well just true for me) had two days to see the country. It's sad though because there's the Adam's Peak I wanted to visit but it's a few hours from Colombo and it takes a night and a day to climb up and down the mountain. We therefore just had enough time to see the capital, Colombo and another city, Kandy.
The day after we arrived, we took a tuktuk around the capital for LKR 500 which was what the hotel manager suggested. We stayed in Hotel Clarion, not recommended for OC people but if otherwise, it's not that bad with the staff very helpful.
*We learned a helpful lesson in the hotel, I was supposed to go to Sri Lanka (used to be called Ceylon as in Ceylon tea.) alone and so booked a room for one, for a very good price through Agoda.com, but my friend decided to go with me so we paid an additional USD 20 for an extra bed.
I am sad to say that Sri Lanka is much like Philippines. Visit the capital, there's nothing much to visit. A tourist got to spend a week at the very shortest to visit outside the Colombo to be able to appreciate more the country. We still had a good time though. :)
After my trip to Maldives, we chose to visit Kandy since it's the only place we could go to for a day trip. It took us around 2 hours in a rented van (I can't remember exactly how much it cost us, but we computed going on a tour and it would cost us just the same. We therefore chose to rent a van through the hotel just so we could travel at our own pace and drop by anywhere we wanted to. It would be therefore better option for those traveling in three and more.) to reach Kandy. Our first stop is the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage (LKR 2000, a bit expensive but it's charity!). Yes, we've definitely seen elephants in a lot of countries but those were either in cages or in shows. :( These elephants have hectares of playground and we watched them march to the river and bathe. One should definitely see that! Make sure to bring zoom lenses!
Upon entering the Sacred Tooth of Buddha Relic Temple, we were asked to deposit our shoes. Lucky for my friend, she was wearing socks. I wasn't. I was therefore running across the hot, hot floor and seeking relief in the indoor parts of the temple. We weren't able to see the tooth itself. Bummer. So we just did some praying. (We're not actually Buddhists but being Chinese, we do sometimes go to temples and "pai-pai".)
Why go to Spice Garden? To learn somethings. We didn't really want to buy anything. Unfortunately, the guide could really be persuasive about the benefits of the products from their spices. We ended up buying some ointments for the elderly relatives and sandalwood oil. :)
We were short on time and decided to visit the Tea Museum instead of the Tea Factory. We kind of regret this since we hardly understood the explanation of the guide (no need to pay.) who had a very strong accent. We did get some information but it might've been better if we went to the factory instead and saw how tea leaves are processed.
Our last stop was the Peradeniya Royal Botanic Gardens (means Guava-plains in Sinhalese). We just have a thing for gardens. This one boasts centuries-old trees as well as new ones. We might've gone during the wrong time of the year (late February) since the garden offered us no flowers. We were completely broke by this time after paying the LKR 1,100 entrance fee, we just had enough to pay the driver. Yup, no money for dinner! This must be the reason why I lost weight after this trip. :)
To be honest, I've always spent on travels thinking this is the one time I'm going to that country. But so far, there's no place I've been to that I don't wish to go back to. It's true, it's some other city or part of the country I want to explore, but every country simply offers its unique culture and beauty that it makes me want to explore more. Of course, that's when I've been to all the countries I have on my list (and it's quite long! :D). I'm just hoping tourist feel the same way when they visit the Philippines.