First Impressions of Lanka
Our first glimpses of Sri Lanka appeared through the plane window. They revealed a sea of dense green. Thick tropical forests and bushes rolled over the hills in every direction to the skyline. No cities or towns spoiled the landscape. This view promised an abundance of nature with lots to explore!
After the three and a half hour long flight, we finally reached Colombo, Sri Lanka. At Bandaranaike International Airport, we were welcomed with garlands by the Sri Lankans as its part of their tradition. As soon as everyone collected their luggage after standing in the long queues at immigration, we were taken to our bus, introduced to our guide, Mr Jonathan, and headed towards our first hotel, Galadari. There, as it was Christmas season, we could see all the people enjoying the Christmas celebrations that were going on in the hotel. There was live music and tons of Christmas trees surrounding the hotel lobby and the restaurant inside. As soon as we got our room numbers and keys, everyone freshened up, had dinner and went to sleep after the long day.
Exploring the suburban wonders: Elephant Orphanage, Spice Gardens and Tooth-Relic Temple
The next morning, everyone was asked to wake up at 6:30 AM, get ready and be downstairs for breakfast and check out by 7:30 AM so we don’t get late for our next destination which was Kandy, a major city in Sri Lanka located in the Central Province. On our way to Kandy, we visited the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawala, Spice Gardens and the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. At Pinnawala we got to know that elephants are classified into two main species: the African elephants and the Asian elephants. As we noticed, the Asian elephants outnumbered the African elephants and are believed to be friendlier than the African elephants. The baby elephants were seen playing and bathing in the river. They also had proper caretakers and were fed with fresh milk. After this, we headed towards the Spice Gardens where we were told about different herbs, spices, natural antibiotics and skin care products obtained from different types of plants. We also got to test some of these products that included Aloe Vera and a natural hair removal cream. Soon after the Spice Gardens, were taken to the Temple of Sacred Tooth Relic where we had to walk barefoot all the way upstairs to the praying area. Our tour guide told us how Buddha’s tooth was preserved, wrapped under 7 caskets of gold, in this temple, thus making it one of the holiest shrines of Buddhism, the most dominant religion in Sri Lanka. At this temple we also saw many tourists and monks whom we were very surprised and excited to meet. After exploring the whole temple, we got back to our bus and went to our next hotel in Kandy which was the Royal Kandyan Hotel where we had dinner and stayed for the night. The next day, we departed for Colombo again.
Water Sports and Sightseeing on Christmas Eve
On our way to Colombo, we stopped by Kitulgala for Water Rafting in the Kelani River. Many students on the trip experienced this for the first time and enjoyed a lot as it was something new for them. Here, one of our boats capsized due to the rapidness of the water, but the river was shallow and narrow so at the end everyone was safe and had an amazing experience. We had lunch at an open restaurant in the hills near the river where it started raining heavily, making the view even more mesmerizing. After this tiring, adventurous afternoon, we reached our next hotel, Fairway Colombo, where we showered, changed and headed out for dinner and went for Christmas sightseeing on our way back to the hotel. After the long day, we all were so tired that we went to sleep very early.
Shop till you drop!
The next morning we were very excited as we had looked forward to this day since the beginning of the trip. It was the day when we all got to shop! We were taken to three different malls and all of them had very unique and absolutely amazing items to buy. They were very different from the items we get in Karachi and that was the good part as it gave us something different to try. We also went for VR in the mall which was amazing. There, we also had awesome lunch with our teachers. After the malls, we went to this huge supermarket where we all got to buy whatever we wanted. Soon after the supermarket we went for dinner and then headed back to our hotel in Colombo.
Bid Farewell… Until Next Time, Sri Lanka!
Our last day in Sri Lanka had arrived and we had planned to go for water activities at Bentota Beach. As we reached Bentota, we decided to first keep our luggage in our hotel rooms and then go for the water activities. We did so and headed out of the hotel as quickly as possible. Our water activities included the sofa ride, the banana ride, and jet skiing. The sofa ride was personally my favorite and I enjoyed it a lot. As we came back to our hotel after dinner at Dominoes, us friends went to the seaside for a walk at the Mermaid Beach Resort where we were staying. We all were sad about the amazing trip coming to an end but we were also happy about meeting our families again.