Experiences, Featured, Solo Travel, Sri Lanka

He Said, She Said

15 Comments 31 May 2011

Glorius and Superb

The best (Glorius Superba) of Sri Lanka...and the worst

Since this was the first time I had traveled as a couple, to wrap up my travels to Sri Lanka, I decided to give you a little best/worst article; but not just from my perspective…from me and my travel partner’s perspective.  Finally – Russ gets to speak up and be heard!  We came up with the questions together and answered them completely separately.  Then I put both of our answers together for the post.  I found it quite interesting to see what we agreed and disagreed on!

Favorite overall place and why:

Russ: Unawatuna – Brand new hotel, great service, lovely little beach town and we found a few great restaurants. It was a really relaxing place to finish the trip. The only downside was the lack of a good beach, but the hotel and food more than made up for it.

Sherry: South of Galle at Auraliya Villa…it was the beginning. Not only was it a luxury villa we had to ourselves with a private beach, 3 black labs, and a staff of people waiting on us – but it was where we really started. I love the newness of a relationship and getting to know people. Besides that – the location was perfect as it was near Galle, and you seriously couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful beach and place to play in the turquoise waters.

Auraliya by night

Worst place and why:

Russ: Polonnaruwa – While there were some beautiful ruins there, especially the sleeping Buddha and the Vatadage, but getting there was when I realized I’d messed up the trip planning and there wasn’t anything, I mean anything, in town and to make things worse the hotel and it’s manager just sucked.

Sherry: Polonnaruwa – I was just generally unimpressed with Polonnaruwa since I’m not a temple person. The day was super hot, and I was tired of temples, and you couldn’t wear shoes in area so you were walking on hot stones!

Best Lodging :

Russ: Kingfisher, Unawatuna – Brand new room with every modern amenity, a view of the ocean, a phenomenal restaurant downstairs and most of all, the staff were wonderful and especially doting. Ask for Nama.

Sherry: Unnawatuna – Kingfisher Boutique Hotel. It was at this time that we finally agreed to slow down and just relax. After being on the move the whole month we found this perfect hotel to stay for 4 days.

Worst Lodging:

Russ: Top Secret, Hikkaduwa – Tiny little room with unbelievably stifling heat and oh yeah, that big ass cockroach that walked across me while I was trying to fall asleep. Never again!

Sherry: Polonnarwja Siyanco Holiday Resort. It was way too expensive for what you received. And my final straw was that there was no wifi at all and everything I asked for on the menu they were out of. Something as basic as cheese. I just felt the place was poorly run from a service perspective.

Best Food:

Russ: Waterfalls Homestay – They served us an amazing home cooked curry outside overlooking the valley and the waterfalls.

Sherry: Waterfalls Homestay in Ella served the best and most authentic breakfast by far. Fresh curd, and egg hoppers. The nightly dinners were amazing too. Curries were good, but the 2nd night they served us fresh crab which was a real treat!

Worst Food:

Russ: Devon Restaurant, Kandy – All I can say is grizzled, boney chicken anus.

Sherry: Actually I’d like to nominate the whole town of Kandy as the worst food! Everyplace we went – Devon’s, White House, a Chinese restaurant, the pub – they were all huge disappointment because they were empty, closed all together, tried to overcharge us, or simply had horrible service. Specifically the sweet and sour chicken at Devon’s was my most memorable worst. It wasn’t that it tasted horrible; it was that the whole night was horrible. That was the night the crappiness of Kandy food actually brought me to tears – much to Russ’s surprise.

Best travel moment with the other person:

Russ: Sherry scoring us the expensive room at a new hotel by bartering her writing and photography services. Get Some!

Sherry: Actually I will go into sappy mode for a second and say that there were actually many of these to choose from. Russ helping me with my technical email issues, removing bugs from the room, riding the trains together, making it to the top of Adam’s peak when Russ cut the line. But one time sort of sticks out to me as I found it surprising. I am lazy, when something breaks I tend to throw it away. However when my bra broke and I was disappointed and about to throw it away, Russ stopped me and said he could fix it. He pulled out a little sewing kit he carries with him and preceded to stitch it all back up – and I’m still using it today! I just found the image of him toiling with a needle and thread on my bra quite amusing…and nice.

Worst travel moment with the each other:

Russ: Dinner, Kandy, Devon restaurant. Sherry needs to eat, because when she doesn’t eat, she can get a bit…cranky. I’ll only add that when the food did finally come, it made things worse, for both of us. Refer to ‘Worst Food’ above.

Sherry: Let’s just say – it’s never good to mix 24/7 of togetherness with ex-girlfriends, quitting smoking, and booze; a lethal combination for being able to get along. Somehow we got through that night thanks to a deck of cards.

Best activity:

Russ: Three temples and gardens tour in Kandy . The temples and the gardens themselves were very nice, but everyone we encountered that day was a breath of fresh air and wanted nothing from us except to show us their country. It was a welcome change of pace and a rare travel day.

Sherry: Festival in Nuwara Eliya.  It was completely unexpected, great photography, and totally off the tourist trail…everything I love.

nuwara eliya

Hindu procession

Worst activity:

Russ: I’d have to say the safari at Yala. While it may be due to my expectations, the park wasn’t that interesting, we saw very little wildlife and definitely no leopard, the guide was pretty average and didn’t care much what we saw and the ride in the jeep itself was horrible.

Sherry: Yala Safari. It reminded me to never spend money on a safari unless it’s in Africa and you have a big long lens.

Most stressful moment:

Russ: Honestly, I don’t really remember any except dinner at the Devon restaurant in Kandy.

Sherry: trying to get on a super crowded train to Hatton during Poya festival. It was as if we were strategizing a war as the train pulled in and a large crowd of people tried to push and shove their way on. I was actually wondering if we would get separated in the craziness let along be able to get our bags on and not break our bottle of vodka in our side pocket of the backpack! Once on the stress didn’t really stop – we rode for 3 hrs in a very uncomfortable and cramped position.

The one thing I’d return to Sri Lanka for:

Russ: – Auraliya, a villa we stayed in near Thalpe on the south coast. It was huge, beautiful, right on the best beach and the food and service was to die for.

Sherry: Easy…Auraliya

Most annoying travel habit of each other:

Russ: Sherry can sometimes have trouble getting moving, I’d be ready to leave to eat or head somewhere and she’d say “I’ll be ready in 5 mins” but 15-20 minutes later, there’s a good chance I’d still be sitting there.

Sherry: My obvious answer is smoking. But that’s too easy so I’ll go with the fact that Russ could not leave a question unanswered; or maybe it’s just boyish curiosity. I would ask a question like “I wonder how many steps there are to the top of Adam’s Peak?” He would immediately hop on his phone and look it up. I simply asked the question not really wanting to get an answer…just thinking aloud…I’m not used to people around me actually acting on it. I realized that if I didn’t want him to look up the answer to some random question I had then I shouldn’t verbalize it.

Best item we packed /brought:

Russ: Backgammon board.

Sherry: Russ’s unlocked smart phone which allowed us to contact guest houses while on the road, and tether to his cheap 3G connection and allow me to work when I desperately needed to. Also – I’ll include backgammon and a deck of cards as the most used items!

bakcgammon cat

Even the cat wanted to play backgammon

What item did we forget:

Russ: Me? Forget something?? Nah…

Sherry: Sleep Sheet – would have really helped me mentally with those buggy rooms! Yes – I’m a wimp.

Best new travel tip learned from each other.

Russ: Probably trip advisor as a central source of information.  I definitely use it more often now.

Sherry: A process for collecting and recording receipts. Now – ask me if I’m still using the process…

Favorite person you met:

Russ: Roshon, our tuk-tuk driver in Kandy. He came along at the right time, just when we wanted to see a lot and didn’t want any bullshit along the way and that’s exactly what he gave us. Along with a smile and a good sense of humor.

Sherry: The staff at Kingfisher hotel and restaurant. They were all great – Nama helped us with everything – and was just a cool guy. The waiter at the restaurant would hang out and talk with us at breakfast time and tell us about the surrounding area. You could tell that they all really liked what they did.

Thing we didn’t see that we wanted to:

Russ: I would have like to have scuba dived the great basses. Can you say humpback whales?!?

Sherry: The leopard in Yala Park. We spent all morning on safari looking for leopards and didn’t see a one. Then learned that the afternoon safari had many sightings…damn luck.

Favorite photo taken.

Russ: Young men washing to cleanse themselves before hiking up Adam’s Peak.

sri lanka bathing

Sherry: People boarding the train in Hatton

train boarding sri lanka

Favorite photo take of the other person:

Russ: Sherry Doesn’t Like to Have Her Picture Taken
Sherry: Flower Inn with the stuffed animals


Your Comments

15 Comments so far

  1. Mark says:

    Unawatuna – the “only downside was the lack of a good beach”. Unawatuna is a beach and one of the finest in Asia.

    Nurawa Eliya – “totally off the tourist trail”. Most guide books list Nuwara in their top 5 places to see/do in Sri Lanka and it was busy with day trippers from Kandy and further afield when I travelled around Lanka in 1996.

    Having read your blog over the past few months I get the impression that neither of you care much for Sri Lanka. I still rate it as one of my favorite destinations.

    I think the planet would be a better place if you stayed at home and did not inflict yourself and your negativity on the world.

    • Sherry says:

      I think we both like Sri Lanka very much – I can only speak for myself and say that it’s not my favorite country I traveled to – but I really had a great time. The beach at Unawatuna has been washed away since the Tsunami and as people rebuilt they built too close to the beach in my opinion. As compared to Hikkaduwa beach – Unawatuna is much smaller – however I like the town much better. We absolutely loved where we stayed there and we loved the town – one of my favorite places in Sri Lanka with or without a beach.
      As for Nuwara Eliya – if you read my post on it – you’ll see that it is all about getting off the tourist trail in Nuwara Eliya – and to a small little tea plantation village and experiencing a Hindu Festival in which no tourists were there.

  2. Very fun post! I like the comparisons. I haven’t really traveled with a ‘partner’ for 5 years now.
    Kingfischer sounds wonderful!!

  3. Anil says:

    hahaha, you look like an assassin in that photo Sherry. I would not mess with you there!

  4. megan says:

    Aw, this is a really nice post :) LOVE the image of Russ fixing your bra – sounds like a keeper 😀

  5. Laura says:

    Fun post idea Sherry! I have to keep this in mind next time I have a partner in crime along with me :)

  6. Mark H says:

    Interesting contrast between two people. I have been on a couple of Asian safaris and they are much more disappointing than those in Africa – at the fear of generalising, the guides just don’t get the feel or idea of what a safari is about.

  7. Brian says:

    Good post but i am not totally agreed with you Sherry. I get the feel that you haven’t not planned well your tour. Otherwise your experience could be better . Ex: If you don’t have an interest on Temples Why did you thought to go Anuradapura or Polonnaruwa. By the way how about your Adam’s Peak experiences ? Was it great ?

    • Sherry says:

      Well – when you travel with a companion you have to compromise – so we went to temples a few days when I wasn’t as interested as my travel companion was. I do love hiking though – so I loved Adam’s Peak and Sigiriya – even though there were temples at the top! :)

  8. Very interesting article with a different perspective. I personally think solo travel to Sri Lanka is best experienced with more information coming from a Travel Agent or TripAdvisor. The kind of bad experiences you had could have been avoided had you obtained prior advice before venturing on your own. There are some beautiful beach villas and holiday bungalows that you could have booked to make your holiday experience a happy and memorable journey.
    Reg de Livera

    • Sherry says:

      My holiday was very happy and memorable – and we did use Trip Advisor to do our research. I still much prefer booking things once I get there – and that’s easy to do in Sri Lanka.

  9. Charlotte says:

    Hey guys thanks for sharing your experiences in Sri Lanka, both good and bad, I enjoyed reading them and am writing a similar blog post at the monent. My partner and I just finished a trip in Sri Lanka and like you guys we both had some great and some very average experiences! I’m glad we steered clear of Yala we heard along the way that it wasn’t worth the money. My biggest regret is not making it to any national park (we heard Unuwatanu was quite good) although we did see some good wildlife on the side of the road! We found travelling around Sri Lanka difficult and expensive and I was a little disappointed in Sigiriya and polonuruwa because of how expensive they were to visit! I think what Mark wrote was a bit harsh your entitled to your own opinion of Sri Lanka and everything you said my partner and I felt much the same!! Keep up the great posts :)

    • Sherry says:

      Thanks! Yes – Sri Lanka is still just emerging from all of the past unrest and trying to figure out tourism if you ask me. They have a ways to go – but I love going to countries like this that feel undiscovered yet. And with that comes some growing pains.

  10. What a fun way to compare experiences. And the fact it was about Sri Lanka really caught my attention.
    It’s probably one of the nicest countries I’ve travelled to, but I suppose I would rate it very highly because my experiences were different and I lucked out on several occasions (one of them was spotting a leopard within minuted of starting our Yala safari).
    Other than that, I think Sri Lanka needs a lot of time if you want to fully appreciate it, and a trip is incomeplete without a visit to the Tamil districts of Trincomalee and Jaffna. (I’m just giving you reasons to go back :D)

    • Sherry says:

      I did like Sri Lanka – in fact I”m heading back there this week for the 3rd time! Yet sadly I’m still not getting North in the Tamil districts on this trip. It’s a beautiful country – and the good thing is that you can travel there at any budget.

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Sherry traveling the world

I'm Sherry, a corporate cube dweller turned nomadic traveler. I travel to off-the-beaten-path destinations to bring you unique travel experiences and photography. But it's not just about travel, it's also about life experiences of a middle age wanderer.
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