42 Things I Learned Wandering Around Sri Lanka for One Month
I have been wandering around Sri Lanka for a month and saw many interesting and fancy things. While a month is a significant amount of time, I learned some facts that I haven’t heard before! I am not sure if you really need my philosophical reflections, so let’s get straight to the point! Based on my personal experience, here are 42 things I learned wandering around Sri Lanka for one month!
1. Sri Lanka is also known as a Blessed Land in Sanskrit.
2. Known during the British Rule as Ceylon the country gained its official name in 1972.
3. Burgher people (otherwise known as Portuguese Burghers) is a small ethnic group and community in Sri Lanka. Since the island was in the sphere of Portugal influence long before British Crown set foot on Sri Lanka, they are mostly descendants of Portuguese settlers and local people.
4. If you find yourself in Sri Lanka on a Poya Day expect to spend it relaxing on the beach. This important Buddhist holiday occurs every full moon. That said, shops and banks are closed on Poya Days, and there is little chance of getting any alcohol drink.
5. While Colombo is the largest city in Sri Lanka, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is its capital city.
6. The name of Colombo comes from the Sinhalese “kola-amba-thota”, which literally means the Mango Harbour.
7. Aluth Avurudda is the Sinhalese New Year, which is celebrated on a month of April. It begins in accordance with the lunar calendar, thus the dates may vary.
8. Nonagathaya is the period of time between the end of the old year and the beginning of a new one, which usually takes several hours.
9. Sri Lanka has the annual temperature range of little more than 5 °C.
10. Buddhists comprise 70 percent of the entire population. The rest 20% are Hindus and 10% are Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians.
11. The Buddha’s tooth relic is one of the most revered Buddhist shrines. You can visit the famous Temple of the Tooth in the city of Kandy.
12. Kalpitiya and Kirinda are great if you are looking for snorkeling and scuba diving experience.
13. 10% service charge is often added to food and accommodation bills. Check the final price before you stay.
14. The typical price for backpacker accommodation is ranging from 500-800 rupees (4-7 USD) in the outback and from 1000-1200 rupees (8-10 USD) on the coast. Renting a house long-term will allow you to save extra bucks!
15. I have noticed Sri Lankans are less willing to negotiate the price. Neither in guesthouses nor in the markets. Maybe it is a matter of luck.
16. Locals hate to admit they don’t know something. I run into situations twice when they pointed me the wrong direction rather than admit they do not know the way.
17. Entrance ticket fees are usually higher for foreigners than for locals. Several times, I managed to negotiate prices down by buying one tourist ticket for two people.
18. When in Sri Lanka you should definitely try Kottu. This fast food is made from godhamba roti and fried with vegetables, eggs and, sometimes, fish or meat. The entire process of cooking can be very noisy because they shredded them into thin strips!
19. Ice cream is very popular in Sri Lanka. Almost every shop can offer a broad range of Gelato!
20. Traditional buffalo curd is made from buffalo milk can be stored without a refrigerator.
21. You will find the maximum retail price shown on all factory goods and often sellers tend not to exceed it.
22. Sellers can charge extra fees for cooling water. Expect to pay 70 rupees for bottled water and 80 rupees for the one from the refrigerator.
23. Fruits, as well as pastry, are abundant in Sri Lanka.
24. Sri Lankan patties are very popular. They come as a snack on trains!
25. Even in shabby restaurants, they serve food on decent plates. The downside is that they use a cellophane to wrap plates. Looks like a convenient way to save on water and hygiene.
26. Low-level local eateries use sliced newsprint use as napkins.
27. Sri Lankans are very hospitable and good-natured. Everyone wanted to know where I am from and where I was going. After a quick conversation during my train ride, a group of young people offered me to join them!
28. Couchsurfing is not very popular in Sri Lanka. I have only met couchsurfers in the big cities like Kandy and Colombo.
29. Fines for smoking can reach up to 5000 rupees (40 USD).
30. Speed limits in Sri Lanka are 72 km/h in rural areas. Speeding fines are about 2300 rupees (20 USD).
31. Riding a bus can be a challenge. It is not rare when bus drivers violate traffic rules accelerate rapidly and brake suddenly.
32. Buses and trains can get very overcrowded. It seems quite normal to locals to ride the way that I felt packed like sardines.
33. There are priority front seats in the buses. These are for pregnant women and clergy. I haven’t seen the ladies but almost every time I rode a bus there was a monk.
34. Train tickets are cheap in Sri Lanka. Despite this fact, some locals only buy tickets to the next station since you will rarely see ticket inspectors boarding a train.
35. You generally get a good 3G of H++ signal in most parts of the island. The rates are low: 2-4 rupees per min and 1GB for 200 rupees.
36. It is not rare that one comes across the street with an umbrella. I still wonder why they do it (regardless of the weather). You can get an umbrella virtually everywhere.
37. You can still encounter military patrols in the northeast of the country. This is because of the recent civil war that only ended in 2009.
38. It is possible to enjoy both sunrise and sunset from one point at the south coast of the island.
39. The Royal Botanical Garden with an orchid greenhouse is considered the largest in Southeast Asia.
40. You can purchase precious stones like sapphire, emerald or ruby on the cheap since Sri Lanka is one of the major exporters.
41. Sri Lanka is the fourth tea producing country in the world.
42. Tea plantations are the most visited locations on the island. Of course, you can see the process of making tea, as well as try it.
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