It was the month of December 2018, and I was desperate for an escape out of my homeland. Being a triathlete, I always loved mixing travel and sports, but this time it was a bit different. I found that the little island of Sri Lanka was hosting an Ironman 70.3 in February 2019, and I thought ‘what better way to explore the tropical island with a race?’.
Booked a flight to the island, bringing my wife and children too, and the rest, as they say, is history. The sports vacation I experienced with my family was unlike any other. What follows is just a glimpse of what I can vividly remember of the island.
Colombo’s Urban Jungle
I was in Colombo for 3 days, prepping myself for the big race which fell on the last Sunday of February. The race was supposed to take place in the historic part of the city, the Colombo Fort. To be honest though, at first I had no interest in the history of Colombo. All I was thinking about was executing my race plan and finishing my race strong.
Come the race day, and everything went well at first, but disaster struck in the cycle leg. My rear tyre had punctured and was costing me precious minutes off my race. I realised quickly that placing in the top 10 of my age group was out of the question, but I still wanted to finish my race. It was here that I decided, for once, to enjoy my race.
Once I got my tyre fixed I went back on the course and started admiring the beautiful city of Colombo, passing by the old Miller’s Building, the Dutch Hospital, the Presidential House, and the Old Parliament made me wonder just how the Colombo Fort would have looked like during its heyday. The ride down the Marine Drive, with the trains passing by, and the blue waters of the Indian Ocean, it was a race of a lifetime.
I remember every volunteer, and random pedestrian cheering me on as I was cycling. This continued when I was running as well. It made me reaffirm what my friends had told about the island’s hospitable people.
I finished my race and decided to explore more of this Paradise Island. With the help of Diethelm Travel Sri Lanka, I managed to cover the other popular cities in the island.
Galle’s Cobblestone Streets
First stop after my memorable race was the southern coastal city of Galle. I was told that it is the perfect place to rest and relax after a hectic race in the commercial capital, Colombo.
Walking along the streets of Galle, especially in Galle Fort, made me think of how important the island would have been to the old colonials. But the highlight here was the amazing architecture of the buildings and the insightful museums in the complex.
The sunset that I witnessed while standing on the Flag Rock Bastion, along with the interesting atmosphere in the fort made me truly admire how this little city has become a major tourist attraction.
At night, the place becomes a haven for the foodie which I am. The Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct and Pedlar Street were just two streets of many that I visited in the Galle Fort offering some amazing international cuisine. Whether it was little bites, or a full course meal, the dishes were just on point.
2 days later my family and I left to the central part of the island to witness the lush green hills.
Kandy’s Serene Landscapes
When I arrived at the historic city of Kandy, the landscapes changed dramatically. Skyscrapers were replaced by dense forests and tall mountains. Moreover, the city was also a cultural hotspot, as it is home to one of the most sacred monuments in the Buddhist world; the Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha.
Housed in the Sri Dalada Maligawa, I was not able to see it per se, but I certainly understood its significance, especially when I saw hundreds of devotees entering the temple to venerate the relic. Inside the temple were many interesting features of architecture and art, which made me appreciate the strong cultural roots of the city.
The very next day my family and I decided to do a little hike at the Udawattekele Forest Reserve, and we were just amazed by the sheer amount of flora and fauna. The reserve was one of the best places we thought was the best viewing point to witness the city and the surrounding mountains, as the scenery was just breath-taking.
Ella’s Adventurous Environment
Being in the hill-country, we also decided to go to Ella, which was recommended by fellow travellers. Following their recommendation is one of the best things we ever did on the trip.
The mountain town of Ella may be small, but is packed with an amazing atmosphere filled with travellers exploring this paradise island. We stayed 3 days here, instead of the planned 2 because of that.
We climbed the Little Adam’s Peak on our first day, and eventually decided to climb the Ella Rock to witness the sunrise on the second day. It was tiring, but it was all worth it. The views from the peaks of both these mountains were just awe-inspiring.
That was not all, we also took a dip at the Ravana Falls and explored the Ravana Cave, which has some interesting stories to tell, and I sure was intrigued by it.
When the third day arrived, we packed our stuff and said one last goodbye to the mountain town, and the country as we left straight to the airport for departure.
Initially, I thought it would be like any other sports vacation I have been on, but it panned out to become the dream vacation I never planned for. Maybe if it was not for the flat tyre, it would have been like any other sports holiday. Fate decided otherwise though. Either way, Sri Lanka is one island that you should try and make it a point to visit at least once in your lifetime, because it truly is heaven on earth.