So this is a long overdue post on my solo voyage to Sri Lanka for my birthday in March. Having grown tired of the usual “birthday brunches & dinners”, a couple years ago I decided that every year for my birthday I’d treat myself to a trip, picking a destination I’d never visited before. It’s part pushing myself out of my comfort zone and part realizing that I had a growing list of places I wanted to visit but I hadn’t because I didn’t have anyone to go with. Now my motto is – just go. Well actually that’s what my mum said to me. :) So this year for #itsmybirthday trip I picked Sri Lanka for a number of reasons:
- Highly recommended by friends and colleagues who’d been and were ready to share tips (always helpful!)
- I did do my own online research and found many blogs and travel sites citing it as a safe destination for solo female travelers
- It’s a 4 ½ hrs direct flight from Dubai and it’s time zone is 1.5hrs ahead so no chance of jetlag
- Relatively inexpensive, an important consideration for a solo traveler
- 100% chillout vibes – which is exactly what I wanted for this trip.
At the onset I was pretty sure that this would be the first of many trips to Sri Lanka. After getting numerous tips on which part of the country to check out, as I only had 6 days, I decided to head down south for my first trip and skip the famous Nuwara Eliya, Ella, Sigiriya, etc for another time. Through booking.com I found a cute boutique hotel called Roman Lake Ayuverda Resort in a small picturesque village called Balapitiya, set along Madu River. My plan was basically to land in Colombo and via a private taxi I’d arranged beforehand, thanks to a recommendation from a friend, head 2hrs down south (it should have taken less time but I had the slooooowest driver in the world) and set up “base camp” in Balapitiya, explore the local town and venture out to neighbouring towns for short day trips over a period of 5 days. Then head back up north to Negombo, which due to its proximity to the Bandaranaike International Airport, is highly recommended by many to either stay for your first or last night in Sri Lanka, just so you don’t get caught in traffic, etc.
While my hotel was set on the bank of the Madu River, it was only a 15mins bike ride to the nearest beach – Ahungalla. The hotel had the most rickety complimentary bike I’ve ever ridden, lol, I’m pretty sure I was quite a sight for the locals.
I must admit I had an “aha” moment just soaking in the tropical beauty of it all. Only marred, slightly, by the occasional uninvited advances from the local young men prowling the beach – for lack of a better word – who had 1,001+ questions to the point where I made up a story that I was recently widowed & seeking solitude with Jesus OR that I’d accompanied my husband on a business trip and so was waiting for him to arrive from a meeting Colombo. Sigh. That aside, I discovered a cool beach shack on Ahungalla beach with super chilled waiters who were friendly and non-pushy and just let me be. I’d promised to come back and dine there again but never got the chance.
Although not a popular stop for most visitors to Sri Lanka, I really enjoyed my time in Balapitya. I’ll share more details on my day trips to Galle & surfer town Hikkaduwa in my next posts.