#Throwback Sri Lanka 2019 – Our top 20 pictures!

Myself and another one of my best gals Mel went to Sri Lanka in February 2019 with our University and it was an amazing trip that you can read all about here!

So I decided what better way to reminisce, especially during lockdown and everything going on in the world, than our top 10 pictures each from our trip! I pinged Mel a text and she was all down for emailing me those beautiful pictures!

So without further ado, here are my top 10 pictures and below mine are Mels top 10!

My Top 10 Pictures

Mels Top 10 Pictures!

Sri Lanka – DISCOVERING KANDY

So today is a free half day, with some scheduled excursions first followed by a free afternoon! And wow did we do some exploring, I urge you to watch the YouTube footage because it was all so beautiful and amazing.

We woke up and headed over to our usual breakfast spot located directly across the road from the mission called Kandayan King!

Just getting across the road was a mission itself. Although there is a zebra crossing you are lucky if they stop for you! You have to wait for solid lul in the traffic to get across. Then once you’re halfway they’ll stop for you! But only if!

Here we had our typical breakfast of Toast, spreads, fresh fruits and omelettes. Ready for a day full of tea, spices, gem factories, amazing street markets and Buddha views!

Gurunanda Tea Factory!

We arrive at the tea factory in our busload and were taken around the factory itself to see how tea bags and loose leaf tea is made! It was amazing to see.

We saw where the tea leaves are dried and then where they are placed in machines to be sieved and it is incredible how fast it can go from harvesting tea to drinking the tea itself! It was a very nice and fast insight into how the tea is made in the factory.

Once we had seen all the machines and learnt how everyone was processed we were brought upstairs to a nice dining area where we were able to try some fresh tea, it was so lovely and I LOVE a brew so I was over the moon.

Afterwards I brought an entire tub of loose leaf Jasmine Tea and Vanilla Tea to bring home with me. They are without a doubt the nicest flavoured teas I have ever purchased or had and taste amazing.

The Spice Gardens

Once we were done with drinking tea we headed over to a Spice Garden!

Once we arrived we were ushered down a pathway where we were given fresh coconut water straight from a coconut! We watched him hack the top off and pop in a straw! It was so lovely and fresh. There was also the most beautiful puppy, so naturally we were all crowding around the fussing the little furball.

Once the puppy and coconut excitement had passed we were given a full tour of the area where they grew pineapples (which I learnt in my 21 years of life are grown from the ground? I was absolutely astonished). We also saw where all the other herbs and spices are grown, cinnamon, garlic, aloe etc. It was really interesting especially when they grind and blend these herbs into herbal remedies.

We were then seated and had a lesson on how these remedies were made and what they could assist with medical wise and then were given the best shoulder and neck massage with their homemade Aloe Vera. Man it was amazing I could’ve quite honestly gone to sleep afterwards I felt so relaxed.

Then we were shown to their store full of herbal remedies, where everything was massively overpriced so I bought nothing. I enjoyed the massage though and cuddled the puppy instead of browsing their shop, a great alternative.

Gem Factory

Our next stop was the gem factory.

Here we learnt about the mining of diamonds and the process in which is taken to get these diamonds into our jewellery and just as they are! We arrived and were taken down a fake underground mining area where it showed how the miner would dig these stones out from these shafts and bring them up with them.

The gem industry is huge, we then watched a 15 minute video on how these gems were brought to manufacturers and how they are made. We were shown how these gentleman within the building were cleaning these precious stones and shaping them ready to be placed in jewellery or sold as they are. We were taken into a small viewing room where there were all different types of diamonds and gemstones dotted around with explanation of their origins and where they were found. 

It was really fascinating to see the process and afterwards were lead downstairs to their gem shop. My favourite gems being the Topaz gem stones, a beautiful pure blue gem which was only £17! It makes you wonder how much of the gem trade is a real hoax.

LUNCH? DOMINOS M8

We were dropped off back at the mission with a mission to find FOOD. And we had seen on the bus through our journey in Kandy that there was a Dominos not far from the mission. You best believe we found that Dominos and ATE our body weight in pizza. It was SO tasty and everything we needed ready for our free afternoon!

TEMPLE OF TOOTH

So the first place us group of girls headed was Kandy’s sacred Temple of Tooth. A beautiful temple where you could visit at a price. We headed into the ground and enjoyed the building for what it was but we did not pay to go inside as it was very busy and you can only go inside at certain parts of the day.

I personally enjoyed putting on our sarongs, we all had such beautiful and colourful clothing options as you cannot bare skin so shoulders and legs must be covered due to be it being a place of worship. It was also located next to the Kandy lake, or Bogambara lake, and was just such a beautiful setting for a beautiful building.

The Temple of Tooth is named this due to housing the sacred relic of the canine tooth of the Buddha and was erected in 1595. The building itself is all white on the outside and is known to be very calming even though it does get very busy, it is recommended to take flowers as offerings for the Buddha! There are stalls located outside of the temple where they are lined with the most beautiful of flowers to offer to the Buddha!

MARKETS (& UNDERGROUND MARKET) OF KANDY

Next up was the markets!

We walked over to the markets that were inside a large white building with rows and rows of tuk tuts outside! It was SO Busy, these stalls included fresh meat and fish, little trinkets and souvenirs, endless hareem pants, sarongs and general items of clothing! It was really interesting to see how this is where the people of Kandy would do a lot of their shopping. We even saw red bananas!?

The market itself was two stories high, we headed into a small shop that offered lots of incense sticks that smelt heavenly and we all collectively brought half the shop. I love burning incense.

There was also an underground market which was centred in a roundabout! There was amazing street art and it was so cool knowing that this hustle and bustle of the market was going on underneath a busy road and roundabout!

we split off into two groups and then re-conveined afterwards by the entrance where all the Tuk Tuks were for the next and BEST part of the day!

BAHIRAWAKANDA VIHARA BUDDHA STATUE

We jumped in 2 separate tuk tuks and it was amazing! We were heading straight for the Bihirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue at the top of the mountain in central Kandy!

They tuk tuk drivers agreed a price for all of us and also agreed to wait for us whilst we explored and also drive us back down the mountain! it certainly was a rickety journey and terrifyingly tight at some points with the cars and trucks zooming past as as we made our way up! We were even holding hands between tuk tuks!

Check the video here!

The views were stunning and the Buddha itself was beautiful. We covered ourselves up and headed up the stairs where we were given a piece of paper of instructions and rules and then said a small price as donation. We had a photoshoot on the stairs up to the buddha because it was an absolute must, and then headed upwards to explore!

The top of the Buddha was closed but that didn’t stop Shaista and I from climbing as high up on the Buddha as we could! It was late afternoon and the sunset was just phenomenal. It was so beautiful and serene, Me, Mel, Shannon and some of the other girls bought flowers as inside the Buddha itself you could give the buddha offerings!

It was a really beautiful experience and I was so happy to share it with the most amazing girls!

We got the tuk tuk down the mountain once more and headed back to the mission. All in all a very successful day!

Stay tuned for the final few excursions and days of the trip!

Sri Lanka – Negombo Lagoons, Beautiful Temples & A Wounded Big Toe.

Negombo Lagoons!

We were finally recovered from travel and getting into Crisis and Disaster mode! Our first trip was to the Negombo Lagoons.

What are these Lagoons?

The water comes in from a small entry up the north of the lagoons and assists with the grasslands, fish markets, rice paddies and coconut plantations! It is populated by puppies, lizards, snakes, monkeys and so many small sand crabs you had to be careful where you stood. Some of the lagoon is so shallow you could jump out the boat and stand up at ankle deep in the middle of this huge body of water. Typically with so many canals, it was created by the Dutch!

There are fishing boats all the way throughout the lagoons and bridges over the water with fishermen hanging of the bridge too, fish markets and general food markets are so reliant on the fresh produce the fisherman are always hard at work each day!

We were in convoy with 4 boats and 6-8 people to a boat, we were out on the lagoons for over an hour exploring the waters, watching the fishermen and getting to grips with the sheer size of the lagoons! We pulled up to the trees to feed the monkeys bananas and let them climb all over and in our boats, they were so cute as were all the puppies and dogs that were also inhabiting the lagoons!

These Lagoons are still affected by the 2004 Tsunami today. There are still abandoned boats, you can still see the debris and houses that have been ruined and abandoned too, it’s eye opening. Especially when your Lagoon boat driver was in the Tsunami himself. I was incredibly pleased to hear he managed to save his family by running up to higher ground. The fact he returned to continue working on the lagoon once more baffled me, but he was brave and I have a lot of respect for that. I’m sure it is a heartbreaking thing to experience.

Agarukaramula Temple & School!

This was awesome. I had never been to a Buddhist temple so this was right on my bucket list! We were planning on having lunch with a family that our course leader had met in unusual and really quite interesting circumstances on the Lagoon! (But that’s another story for Martin to tell). But before we could enjoy some traditional Sri Lankan food we headed to the Agarukaramula Temple and school!

Naturally before you enter a temple you must remove your shoes so there were an array of flip flops and sandals left outside the temple which was huge and beautiful with the Buddha stood tall above the temple. We were greeted by young children in their white school uniform waving down to us from the raised balcony below the Buddha, they were adorable and excited to see us.

When we went inside you had to pay 1000 Rupees to receive a booklet that took you through the temple painting by painting. If you didn’t purchase the booklet then they did not allow you in which was a little frustrating at first for the group but I decided I was unsure if I was ever going to be here again so I bought the booklet for myself and Mel and we went on inside. For situations like this I felt it would also help their funding and it was an experience for us none less.

The paintings inside were beautiful and it was really interesting going painting to painting and Buddha to Buddha learning about how he became THE Buddha. I never thought I would have to opportunity to go into a temple on this trip so it was really interesting and I have kept the booklet too! It is now stuck confidently inside my scrapbook! The best part was the men were repainting the artwork on the wall of the Buddha whilst we were inside.

We headed over to the school afterwards although we couldn’t spend to long there as we were getting the children in trouble for distracting them in their classes. They were all really shy and quite fascinated, especially because a few of us had go pros including myself and we were all wearing colourful harem trousers and the boys in their sarongs. What was great to see them enjoying classes taken outside and how smart (and adorable) they all looked in their uniform!

Heading to the Fernando Family…

The Fernando family lived along the lagoon and all together in their house. If you went into their back garden it backed out onto what is the lagoon, it was really beautiful and it made you wonder if it was something lucky to have to back onto the lagoon which I guess in their case it was as they could use the lagoon to get to where they needed to go if not via motor and also fishing too!

Now they lived down a mile long road which our coach was unable to go down so we had to walk which was really lovely as it was hot and we got a real taste for the local community in that area. Kids were playing and waving and the heat was beautiful. The walk wouldn’t have been so bad… If I hadn’t ripped all the skin of the front my big toe!

If you’re squeamish skip this part to the next part!

The speedbumps along the road are angled, a little like this /“\. So naturally we are walking along, its hot, we’re all gasbagging like we do and I am totally not paying attention, FYI I’ve got flip flops on. I tripped over the bump and was like oops and just carried on walking, I didnt feel anything until I realised my flip flop was awfully sticky.

YUUUUUP that was blood, I had scraped the skin back from the front of my toe and it was just flapping off whilst bleeding quite a bit. I just stood there quite happy we were nearly at their house with blood on the pavement and on my shoe. I placed a plaster on it for now and took a seat on the pavement to give it a good clean. I felt more comfortable wrapping my fat toe up at their house.

Once I arrived a good 5 minutes later than everyone else I sat down the step of their house to make good of what I could with my toe. Best believe I managed to keep it completely clean and uninfected for the ENTIRE TRIP. I even climbed a mountain and it was fine, those 4 years of lifeguarding did ya girl good.


The Fernando Family cooked us up the most beautiful Sri Lankan curries and afterwards we had fresh fruit! They were so tasty and flavoursome. I am certain I had some of the best food I have ever had out there. So fresh and tasty, so many new flavours that I had never tried before.

We went into their back garden afterwards as they had TORTOISES and we could totally hold them! I had never held a tortoise before so that was pretty cool, you had to hold their shells as naturally there wasn’t really anywhere else you could hold without getting munched down on by Mr tortoise! We also had a little gander at the decking that lead out on to the lagoon that they had access too.


Once we had had this beautifully busy day we decided with some of the afternoon still to kill we headed straight back to the Camelot hotel, relaxed by the pool, ordered dinner by the pool and watched another absolutely beautiful Sri Lankan sunset from the beach. These sunsets were definitely some that I will never forget.

Tomorrow was going to full of exploring Colombo, visiting the Sri Lankan Government Disaster management centre and more good food.

Stay Tuned!

J x