One leg in train or flight and one leg at home..yes that’s what best denotes my small family of 3 (myself, hubby and my almost 5 year old daughter), so when my cousin suggested Sri Lanka road trip with his family..well how could we say NO..a little bit of sightseeing, a whole lot of eating, spending time with kids was what we did during our road trip in Sri Lanka.
Why Sri Lanka??
It is raining everywhere in India in the month of July and lets face it two kids, shut in a hotel room is not great..so we decided to look at destination close to India and where obtaining visa would not be a major job and all this keeping in mind that we have to be in budget. Sri Lanka turned out to be the best bet..why you might ask? well for starters, the flight tickets were not expensive ( INR 10,000 per person – to and fro) and the most important part, the weather in Sri Lanka !!! This time of the year the east coast was dry with no rainfall but having cloudy days with lots of breeze…perfect.
The Journey for our Road trip in Sri Lanka
Using local transport of buses or trains would have been the cheaper mode of transportation but having our own vehicle gave us the flexibility to stop for fresh Litchis, taste local cuisine and drink lots of hot tea (very important :))
The mission – Road trip in Sri Lanka with family
Nos of km to cover – almost 265 km (One way)
Nos of passengers – 4 adults and 2 small kids with one very nice local driver (Piyal)
Nos of hours to cover the distance – 5 hours ( as google map showed us without any breaks…that did not happen 🙂 )
Food items carried – Homemade theplas, some biscuits and apples.
We landed in Sri Lanka late in the night and spent the night at Airport Tourist Hostel, a small family run home stay with very basic but clean facilities. After a good night’s sleep and really good breakfast (eggs, really soft bread, rice and dhal). We 4 adults and 2 kids set out in a van ( 8 seater) on our road trip in Sri lanka.
We started around 9 Am from Negambo (am really grateful that the weather cooperated), decided to reach Pasikuda via Dambulla. The places looked so similar to India, small towns followed by green paddy fields and that was followed by some more small towns..Through out the journey we saw locals selling a variety of fruits and vegetables, fresh Litchis, coconuts, dragon fruits, small round water melons etc etc… they were so fresh and beautiful. We bought Litchis from one of the vendors and oh my…they were red and so sweet. I knew from our previous trip here, that Sri Lanka does not have the big 4 -5 lane highways…but the roads that they do have were fantastic, people in general followed the traffic rules and rarely honked.
Around 11 am we stopped at this small restaurant for tea and some snacks. Though they did not have any local dish available, we had a really good vegetable spring roll and the lightest rice crackles..This day also marked the start of our hunt for a good chai / tea ( we couldn’t get a kadak cup of tea ).
After travelling for a couple of hours we reached Dambulla caves, a world heritage site, depicting the life of Buddha using paintings and sculpture. To reach the temple on top, one can use the steps or the paved slope road..since the weather was very nice with lots of breeze we decided to use the steps.
The Dambulla cave monastery is still functional and is a place of worship hence everyone has to adhere to the local dress code, which means shoulders and knees always need to be covered. Once inside, one gets to see the various sculptures and paintings of Buddha. The rooms are dimly lit and you get to see the flower offering that people have placed.
Once we came down, our driver took us to Sakura Restaurant, which served the most delicious and fresh spread of vegetarian sinhalese food. The staff was very friendly and explained to us in detail about the ingredients used in our meal. Sakura is situated on the main road but amidst paddy fields..good food with a view..what else would we want.
The food served was simple yet delicious and costed us only Rs 900 (Srilankan Rs) per person. The best part of the feast was the desert, vanilla flavoured curd served with coconut treacle…oh yummm…i still remember the flavour.
Thankfully we did not have any more stops on the way and managed to reached Amethyst Resort by 5.30 pm. Even before we could finish check in formalities the kids were at the beach. The resort is on a very peaceful stretch of beach…a perfect place to unwind after a long tiring day.
The next two days was all about water and food. If we were not snorkeling, or playing in the swimming pool..we were out to have more delicious food.
It was during one of these trips outside the resort that we came across Amritham (a women run organisation), where the food served is simple, tasty and cheap. The really sweet ladies prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner at the this place.
We tried their, sinhalese limited meals for lunch, string hoppers, aapam and stew for dinner. On the last day, my brother and myself also attempted scuba diving to a ship wreck …oh what an experience that was..amazing is the only term that i can use.
From Pasikuda, we stared back towards Colombo and halted at the Gunners Club in Mineriya. At Minneriya we got to see one of the largest gathering of Asian elephants. What a sight it was, a lone tusker, multiple calf’s and a whole bunch of smaller elephants just kidding around. The kids enjoyed the national park thoroughly.
One of the memorable moments of this road trip in Sri Lanka was to visit a vegetable garden of one of the locals who also had a small restaurant. Te vegetable garden had chillies, rampe ( almost like a Sinhalese variant of bay leaf or lemon grass), ambarella, billing ( a sour fruit like our own gooseberry) and kohilan….such interesting ingredients..
The return back to the airport was all about shopping souvenirs and some local ingredients..we picked up tea, cinnamon and fridge magnets to take home.
The journey of 5 hours was all about music and family..while listening to A.R. Rehman and Illayaraja songs, chitchatting, cracking jokes, we bid adieu to this beautiful country and the green pastures…we will be back soon !!!