Often in travels, a few extra days someplace are a joy. You get to relax in more familiar digs, discover that cool new neighborhood, ride a bus to a local village, find the local restaurant you missed, or maybe meet more locals or travelers.
But sometimes you stay a bit too long or are just eager to move on. Sometimes it’s real discomfort, sometimes a bit of boredom, and sometimes just the way your travel brain is programmed…knowing exciting new places are on the horizon. We’ve got some pretty rewired travel brains after 19 months of vagabonding.
We underestimated how homogenous Sri Lanka would be from a tourist perspective. Challenging governance, intermittent civil unrest, an ongoing economic crisis, limited imports, and an influx of Russian tourists(?!), all add up to an odd dynamic as visitor. There is huge demand for tourism money here, but still relatively few foreign tourists. It’s tough to see and you want to help everyone.
We loved Sri Lanka, had some amazing experiences, and are very glad we choose to visit now. But we did run out of steam the last week for many of these reasons. Heat, humidity, limited transport, and an excessive amount of interactions as tourists going about our business. It wears you down.
So please come to Sri Lanka. You will love it, but make sure to focus on what you love. The ancient civilizations are fascinating, but you need to dive in deep and do some background reading as the info at the sites leaves a little to be desired. If you really appreciate the natural world, then book safaris and bird watching tours to more remote areas. (There are many we missed) Maybe a long distance trek in the hills such as the nascent Pekoe Trail is your thing. (That may bring us back).
Or maybe a few weeks surfing and chilling. Super nice along the lesser developed southeast and east coasts. If you are comfortable on a scooter, then that would give you more freedom….and even a car could get you off the tourist track easier. Just be ready for limited supplies and options if you self cater.
So we made the best of our last week. We soaked up a bit more sun, sweat out more toxins, and discovered more about the ancient cultures of Sri Lanka. But we did start to say no to seeing ALL the sights, as it was not bringing us joy.
So we take away a bit more understanding of the culture and plight of 22 million Sri Lankans. We sincerely hope for a brighter future, and are glad to see there was a recent agreement with the IMF for $3B in bridge loans. We also hope we left some American good will in our wake. Travel is still good, and important even in the Instagram world of 2023.
We did a bit of everything in our 3 1/2 weeks and it was fantastic but we were very ready to be back in on in a more developed economy…so nowhere better on the planet than Japan.
After some long flights via Singapore, Japan has delivered us immense joy in the early peak of Cherry Blossom season. We feel like we have just come out of the wilderness after a long backpacking trip. Hungry, dirty, and ready to eat anything. Contrast and appreciation for the new is a wonderful gift of travel.
More on truly amazing Japan soon. Happy travels!
2 thoughts on “Sayonara Sri Lanka”
When I see a new post from you, I read it immediately & eagerly. For me, what always stands out is your polite mix of openness, good cheer, honesty and humor. You bring us along so well that I feel I’m with you crossing the complex arc that bridges your deep appreciation for your time in Sri Lanka to your readiness for Japan. I don’t think anyone I’ve ever read makes travel feel as soul-filling as you two do. I see you’re reading is Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow.” How is it?
Sounds similar to my experience in India – after nearly 10 weeks, I totally ran out of steam and basically stayed in my hotel room in Delhi as much as possible the last 3 days. Enjoy the next chapter of your travels!