Capturing travel memories and letting them live on is so important. For me, Sri Lanka will always hold a piece of my heart for being such an incredibly authentic travelling experience. Unlike the more overdeveloped parts of Asia, it still retained it's innocent charm and had yet for the wave of tourism to take over. Traveling Sri Lanka gave a peek into what it would have been like to travel places like Thailand 20 years ago, before the hoards of backpackers and holidaymakers descended. It had a purity to it, a feeling that you were seeing the country, and the people, as they really should be seen.
There was something magical about visiting untouched beaches without endless hotels leering over the sands. Driving through the mountains and exploring tiny villages and towns, I went a week without seeing anyone but the locals. I stayed with them in their homes, ate dinner made with freshly prepared ingredients grown on their land and drank tea from the nearby plantations. In the mornings, we visited the markets where a rainbow of tropical vegetables and fruits, spices and fabrics awakened our senses. Loudly the sellers cried out as they tried to sell their wares and our noses were filled with the sweet and spicy aromas. Traveling Sri Lanka was an assault on the senses, a whole body experience.
Along the way, I passed through several national parks and saw how beautifully they had preserved the landscape in all it's wildest glory. With leopards casually strolling through the undergrowth and wild elephants grazing in the distance as their babies peeked shyly from between their legs. One of my favourite experiences while traveling there was in Yala National Park when we visited the coastline and I went for a walk along the beach to visit a tiny fishing village. The locals were so welcoming and invited me into one of their huts to chat and offered me a taste of their salted fish which was drying in the sun. For me, this experience was one of those that defines my reason for traveling. It's not just to see beautiful places, but it's to feel them, to let them change you.
Meeting these amazing people who live in a tiny village in the back end of a national park, it showed me a way of life so far removed from anything I knew. One of the things that amazed me the most – the fact that all these people in the village not only spoke perfect English, but started to speak German, Swedish, French and even Italian to me. Their corner of the world may have been small, but they were fascinated by what was beyond it, they were full of questions about my life and wanted to learn. I was away from the group for less than an hour while they all ate lunch and took a nap in the shade, but in that time I experienced a part of Sri Lanka I never dreamed existed. The mutual fascination I shared with these villagers bonded us in that moment, on that beach, in Sri Lanka, and created a moment I will never forget.
You can find the Sri Lanka Country Step here.
Thanks so much to our guest blogger, Absolutely Lucy, for this awesome post.