Ella, Sri Lanka
Five days. Why has Sri Lanka so quickly become my favorite country? What is it that Sri Lanka has that others have not?
Ella, Sri Lanka (pronounced Elle'), was the first destination we've been (that's both cities and countries) - that I have actually said, "I could see myself getting stuck here for a few months." There is something about this small mountain town vibe that pulls at my heart strings. The town is nestled in between two peaks that overlooks an endless view of tropical valleys probably inhabited by leopards and elephants.
When we landed in Sri Lanka it was 8pm. We flew out of Ahmedabad, India at 7 am, had a stop over in New Delhi, flew from Delhi to Colombo, and took two buses (straight out of the airport) to get to Kandy. All in all, it took us twenty one hours to get to our destination. We arrived at 2 am, to a rainy, lush and cool Kandy, Sri Lankan climate.
Kandy has a very British feel. The light posts and architecture all Claim British colonialism. The skies in Sri Lanka are SO blue. Blue blue! I remember when Zach and I flew down to the Dominican Republic for a few days, I was taking photos left and right just because of how the colors popped. It's the same thing here. The sky's blue carries until it meets the valley's green. There is not once ounce of noticeable pollution. It kind of reminds me of a Costa Rican vibe in Asia. Even the people have a hint of Latin American vibes. The music in the buses and taxis all sound very Tejano, very Latin American.
I'm a mountain girl. Through and through. That.... and a Texas hill country girl. Through and through. I love Texas hill country. And I love mountain towns. Deserts and beach towns - they've just never been my taste. In all of our five months of travel we haven't hit a truly genuine MOUNTAIN town once. The closest bets were in Beijing where we climbed the Great Wall - but that doesn't count because Beijing is a huge city. I mean twenty four million huge. And not in the mountains. The other would be Pai, Thailand. And Pai is beautiful. It has a definite mountain vibe. But it was still a "mountain town" that was pretty hot. The hiking was a scooter ride away, and the town was all of 480 meters high.
Ella is the first true mountain town we've hit. And I'm in love. It sits at 3,415 ft and is directly at the base of two peaks. Hiking each peak begins from the center of town. Afternoon showers roll in each day around two pm and clear up for a magnificent blue part in the sky above the lush green valley. Not to mention our accommodation. We stayed at Nest of Peak, superbly placed on the peak facing the valley and in between both other mountain peaks. We had a piece of the sunrise and the sunset.
We only booked eleven days between flights in Sri Lanka because we didn't know much about it when we had to pick our flights. I read from numerous bloggers that ten days was not enough - but if there is one thing I've learned, it's that everybody wants something different. Everybody is looking for a different piece of travel. And everybody has a different experience in different places. We had already ran into the issue of overbooking a place (based on other people's recommendations) and getting stuck there... and wanting to get the hell out. So we decided we would hit Sri Lanka in eleven days - and leave no room for the desire to want to leave.
In Ella we spent our days waking up to a gorgeous sunrise, eating a traditional Sri Lankan breakfast with a view, and heading out to conquer each peak that watched over us. It is a PERFECT town for the outdoor enthusiast, self guided adventurer spirit. I've learned myself - my likes, dislikes, desires, and mediocre travel tastes pretty well. I'm a free spirit that does not like to be confined to repetitive commitment while traveling. Especially commitment that involves groups. Especially groups that involve trekking. Especially when those groups are people your fitness levels do not match up with (so... we generally opt to trek without a guide and just amongst our friends).
Ella is so easy to get around we headed out to each site and each hike without so much as a finger pointing toward a peak. The locals were super kind and twice redirected Zach as we were lost in the woods, to guide us to a peak (yes we tipped them). After three to five hours of hiking you find your way back down to the base and enjoy a wonderful little salad for lunch with a view. Enjoy a couple beers at one of the many mountain bars, watch the thunderstorms roll in, take a shower, clean up for the evening. Sit on the rooftop to watch the clouds part. And head back down the railroad tracks to find a new little Italian or Greek restaurant to satisfy your dinner needs. Life is good here. I could get stuck here for a while. Depending on that income to expense margin.
Get to Ella, my friends.
And if it's not your flavor - get to somewhere else. And keep your travels going. Until you find your flavor.