1 Sri Lanka: Land of Smiles and Surprises

We spent 11 days in fabulous, fascinating Sri Lanka in December 2018. We flew Qatar, from Johannesburg to Colombo, and what an excellent airline it is: We were met at the airport by a Pan Lanka Travels and Tours representative. He then introduced us to our chauffeur guide. Thanks to our son-in-law, everything had been arranged in advance, which made things so easy and stress free for us. Sri Lankans are very friendly folk – smiles wherever we went. Here’s a lovely young woman at our first hotel – I wrote her name down but now I can’t find it!

.And here are some signs at our first hotel.


We hadn’t done any research before travelling there and so, not surprisingly there were lots of surprises! Look out for future posts on this beautiful country.

Don’t be surprised if:

  • your car journey to your hotel (or anywhere else) takes at least twice as long as you were expecting: Google said 1 ½ hours. It took us 3 ½ to ours.
  • you arrive safely at your destination, against all odds, after a scary, ‘hooting dodgems’ kind of drive, passing tuk-tuks, two-wheel tractors towing trailers, trucks, trundling buses, scooters and cars.




















  • you hear that there are no women taxi-drivers or chauffeuers.
  • you are warned about the dangers of sugar on sugar packets.














  • you hear peacocks and then see them wandering around the hotel grounds.
  • you see magical dragonflies, butterflies and fireflies flitting about everywhere.









  • on your drives to various destinations you see elephants, right next to the road, even that close that they fill your rear view mirror!!























  • you see elephant footprints going down to the beach at your 4 star hotel….and later











  • you come face to face, with an elephant at about 5 in the evening, while on a birding walk!!
  • you see a land monitor peering over the edge of the roof at you, at your 4 star hotel.
  • buffalo and wild boar roam the grounds of your 5 star hotel.



















  • you see a snake (luckily a harmless rat snake) swimming across the swimming pool at your 4 star hotel.
  • you see buffalo casually grazing in town.
  • you see cattle being herded down the highway towards you.











  • your driver parks sensibly and you come back to find many others have parked you in and it is impossible to move until they arrive back.
  • no shouting or swearing happens, only calm acceptance of inconsideration.
  • you get to the gate of a national park while it is still dark and find that hundreds of other jeeps have got there before you.











  • when you see a bear, it is going to be a bun fight between jeeps to help their clients catch a glimpse!
  • there is a full moon, it will be a public holiday and you will not be able to buy or drink alcohol at your hotel.
  • you see beautiful birds wherever you go, including many peacocks perched in trees.


























  • if your little blonde girl is swamped by intrigued dark-skinned, dark-haired Sri Lankan mothers and their children!











  • sadly, you see loads and loads and loads of stray dogs, in poor condition.


6 thoughts on “1 Sri Lanka: Land of Smiles and Surprises

    1. djfeet Post author

      It was a surprise for us too Katie! I must edit the post and say that they are actually called sloth bears – a lot smaller than grisly, black or brown bears.

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