Around this time two months ago, I was on a two-week adventure to Sri Lanka, with STRANGERS. You see, I had a ton of leave to clear and wh...

Asia's best kept secret - Sri Lanka

Around this time two months ago, I was on a two-week adventure to Sri Lanka, with STRANGERS.

You see, I had a ton of leave to clear and whilst at work, I had to figure out where in the world (literally) to visit in February (without needing thick coats and jackets).

I googled, "best place to visit in the month of February". Of course Sri Lanka was on the list, and ever since my dad went and came back with beautifuuuul photos and stories of the country, my heart was set. I announced to the people in my office that "I AM OFF TO SRI LANKA" and my colleague Faruq (or should i say, former colleague hyakhyak) said that he too, was going. He told me I could join his friends if I had no one to go with. I took a chance.

And I'm glad I took that chance. Company was excellente~ and I wished they could've joined me on my last three days - I went solo (cuz I had too much leave to clear) Strangers turned friends - i laughed my ass off every day. Every, single, day. Faruq's friends are great, which means Faruq has good taste in friends, and Faruq is my friend, so I have the best taste in friends. In other words, I AM TASTY HAHAHAH alright let me just shut up and write.

In the months leading up to February, I was superrrr excited - I could feel it in my bones that it'd be an adventure never to forget. And believe me, Sri Lanka truly was. I'd say it's one of my most favourite destinations - it has everything that I love - Mountains, the ocean, beaches, elephants and... tea.

The best thing? Nobody knows about it - that's why I say it's... Asia's best kept secret!! (no longer a sekret now eh?)

Words can never describe, so I can only take you with me through pictures, here goes!

Presenting to you my Lanka crew!
Angelica, Godwin, Amirul, Edwin and... who's that? Oh right, Faruq.
Look at that ocean behind... that was our view for the night at our first stop, Colombo - Sri Lanka's capital.

ahhhh wtf!!! it's not the sea, it's the OCEAN
cuz Sri Lanka is surrounded by the Indian Ocean so it literally has beaches all round the island nation

i was still so fair on our first day. Godwin even said i don't look the sort who gets tan easily, what a way to strike up a conversation with a new friend

Our first meal in Sri Lanka - their famous Sri Lankan crabs (I'm sorry I didn't take photos of the food)
that ocean viewww

was so excited that they were using these classic old bottles!!

Soon we were off to explore Colombo - hahahah yeh yeh we off to Brazil

Don't be fooled - these tuk tuks have an app similar to Uber/ Grab and I'm super amazed they have an app like that.
It's called 'Pick Me' SO USEFUL - this way you never get cheated by the locals, everrr again!!!! (all thanks to our colleague shereen's awesome recommendation)

A beauuuutiful red mosque
which i now look at with a tinge of sadness because of recent religious clashes in Kandy between Buddhist and Muslim people.

In the evening we walked along these railway tracks...
remember this father-daughter pair because....

 The next day, we were taking a train travelling ON THOSE RAILWAY TRACKS!!

early morning train

Off to Galle!! (prono: "gall" bladder)

Now, the day we travelled to Galle was also...

Sri Lanka's Independence Day!!!! (4th Feb)
Those are Raffles Institution kids for you hahah
We were treated to this most wonderful, colourful parade!! We were sooo lucky.
Reminded me of one of those NPCC NCC uniform group parades though 
Galle is known for their forts, which overlook the granddd indian ocean

I've never been to Greece, but a lot of their interior designs remind me of the pictures I see of Greece's
lovely white walls and earthy colours

That's what I like ;) 

Lovely churches they have as well -
dutch, portuguese influences~
So diverse, so multi-cultural - we never knew that about Sri Lanka - cuz all we knew about the country were Tamil Tigers and the LTTE. No thanks to Social Studies.

We didn't stay in Galle for long, late afternoon we were off to...

this is gonna be annoying but.....

Ella, ella, ella, eh, eh eh

And welcoming us to Ella on our way there was....

We went crazyyyy seeing this lovely lovely magnificent creature at the side of the road. We badly wanted to pull over. And he was just lapping up the attention from the locals as well as us. Elephants are awesome.

.... and we're awesome friends too.

THIS was why we loved Ella

Having this amazeballs breakfast in front of that bloody beautiful mountain....
what more can i ask for, WHAT MOREEE 

That breakfast is for champions, as we set off to hike Ella Rock.

Cheyyy this one

We had to walk along these train tracks to get to...

Ella Rock!

"we're from Singapore!"
"where were you originally from though?"

And the next day, we were off to yet another hike~ Little Adam's Peak

conditioning my new shoe for my next hiking trip

my sri lankan guide bahahahha

Faruq and I had a lot of fun climbing this mountain, acting all vogue and shit

da top,
not that easy i must say
Felt so tiny

but actually we're not so tiny

chey x2

And now.... my friends.... this is easily...

Just look at that goddamn view - we're literally on cloud 9

we so hapi
and faruq so burnt turnt wurnt



not very chey anymore lololol

After chilling at that cafe for like... hours....
We came to...

Nine arches bridge

these two had a photoshoot, smizing, posing all
On our way back...

They somehow got pregnant
HAHHAH i really dunno what they were thinking la wahlaueh
(btw we had our share of rain too over there)

posting this cos i'll never forget how amirul trolled me that night while playing that indian poker game
two middle fingahhsssss!!! three if i could to you amirul!!!!!!!

Woke up before the break of dawn to head to Kandy...

And we were off on the most beautiful train ride on earth!!!!

you've to be right there to really see and feel this amazing sight
i couldn't stop taking photos

amirul would know cuz he ma train buddeh
i had to reach over to his side window at least 10,000 times to get a good capture
so sometimes i capture a lil bit of him. just a little bit.
*rolls eyez*
city kids
*rolls eyez*
*rolls eyez* hahahh

What was fantastic about this train ride was talking to this whole bunch of 18-year-old Muslim boys who were on their way back to Colombo after a week-long religious studies trip.

they were soooo candid, so curious to know who we were and where we came from

They were also curious as to whether we were husband and wife HAHAH. I was about to say yes, but Faruq said "friends". And they gave a quizzical look.

I think it's difficult for them to understand that concept... Faruq explained to me that the boys are probably not allowed to be physically close to a girl until past marriage. So they must be puzzled by the fact that we're both travelling together even though we're not married.

So I guess...... Faruq and I should just get hitched huh? ;-)

Their faces lit up when they heard Faruq and Amirul's names. So Amirul quickly gave me the name "Salmah" just to blend in hahah kanasai this Amirul!!

I quite like the name though. Hi, I'm Salmah Tan nice to meet you.


We only spent one day at Kandy and there wasn't much in the city. I would go back again someday to the countryside, despite all of that religious clashes in the past month. I'm sure it still is a beautiful place to visit. 

We had a nice airbnb house though~ a bit old but quite charming.

reallyyy enjoyed our meals at this table :)

loooove sri lankan breakfasts!!! all those fruitsss argh
string hoppers, bread, jam, and eggs yum

We arrived at Dambullah after Kandy to see this UNESCO heritage site.
It's called the Sigiriya Rock.

Reminded me a lot of the historical ruins of Ang Kor Watt in Cambodia. Amazing how people used to live in these quarters.

Them boys were like Myanmar people smeared with Thanakha on their faces HAHAH
their skin were peeling badlyyy

I must say tho, the climb up was pretty darn treacherous with the hot sun beaming above
there were thousands of chinese tourists, and we wanted in on the action too

I didn't want this action though.
Left - posing; 
Right - saw a stupid monkey about to snatch stuff from my bag

The top!!
View was quite spectacular, but i don't know if it was totally worth it

emotional at the top

glamourous at the top

fun at the top

sisterhood at the top

Us at the top :-)
so so so glad to have made these new friends.
Back down at the bottom at our lovely hotel
tea in the backyard garden, love thisssss

my cutest host!!!

We headed back to Colombo where we first began our trip and soon....

it was time for me to leave my strangers-turned-friends

It'd been a hell of a good ride with them but it was time to leave for my solo 3 days. I was soooo sad to say goodbye to them!!

Edwin and his polaroids :)
for keepsake

After being with a group of friends for 8 days straight, it was a bit tough to be on my own after. Cos everything that I did felt a little more lonely, a little less fun. But hey, that's also when the excitement of meeting new people along the way begins~

I was gonna head south to Mirissa beach, sat on a bus full of locals for a couple of hours before I was whisked away in another bus.

it was shady as heck with dim lights and rock ballads blasting inside
a local ushered me in and i found out it was the cheapest way to get to the beach from the station i was dropped off -
20 cents only 

It was a bit tough finding accommodation wandering around at night and it's hard finding a cheap rate with just one person sleeping in a room. So a lady took pity on me and let me have one of her rooms at a not so expensive rate. noice.

The next day.. I found myself in paradise

Wasted no time and went straight to DIVING!!!!!

I read online that over here, there's no need for a PADI license to dive, and after reading the reviews, I decided ah heck, let's take a chance.

so out i went!!


we didn't go too deep though - pretty shallow


Me happy
Diving checked.
Definitely needa get my PADI for more expeditions!!!!!! It's another world deep down under.... and a very pretty one. I still long to see corals.

real beautiful sunset :')

The next day....
I rented a bike and OFF I WENT

Soooooo good to relive those days pillioning Sianpei as we went around Southeast Asia. This time however, I had no one to give me directions - Sianpei would always bark commands to turn in whatever direction and all I had to do was focus on riding.

This time I was on my own!!! Was pretty scary at first, I couldn't even remember how to start the bike's engine HAHAH. And I had to take that picture of my bike at one point so that I could remember where I parked and what the plate number was.

After a couple of missed turns and using google maps to navigate,

I arrived at my destination

It's a temple overlooking this amazing, amazing ocean.
I could cry just looking at this with the wind in my face

sat here for at least 2 hours...

... reading this book on meditation that i found in my apartment.
learnt many lessons from this unassuming book.

met this wonderful family as well :)
Then rode to another beach in the evening...

it was so secluded, i felt like it was mineeee

The next day would be my last day and I had a flight to catch at midnight.

so I took one last chance to ride awayyyy

rode for a good hour to find this spot where i could supposedly find fishermen who stand on those sticks on the left to fish.
but they only come out in the evening so i just sat here to contemplate bout life..
then a family saw me and approached meeee :)
it was even this little girl's birthday that day!!!! sadly i had nothin on me to give to her
one last selfie to end the trip!
i was more than ready to come home by then :)

I said goodbye to my host, took a bus to the bus station, before taking a long bus ride back to Colombo. It was about 8-9pm by then and I was starvingggg.

I was about to head to a nearby coffeeshop when a man in his 20s approached me and started talking to me. I happily chatted away with him, since it's always nice to make a new friend!

He even offered to pay for my chicken kotthu (roti dish), which I adamantly refused but he insisted so I couldn't do anything about it. That evening with this stranger turned more insidious however. Throughout that meal, he tried to ask me to sit beside him, but I didn't want to, saying it's fine with me facing him. Didn't think it meant anything much, but in hindsight, I should've seen it coming.

He offered to walk me around a lake and since I still had time, I thought why not. While we were walking, he kept offering his hand... and it looked like a gesture for me to.... hold his hand. I simply ignored it. Further along the lake, he found a bench, and this time I couldn't escape from sitting beside him. I thought I was overthinking so I sat down beside him. He asked to take a photo. And it was this time when I felt his hand slide across the length of my thigh. I was disgusted. After that I told him, I had to go.

All this time, I'd thought that if something like that were to ever happen to me, I would scream, shout and slap the perpetrator if I could. But when it actually happened, I was shocked. Too shocked to process what was going on and all I could think of was to walk away. silently.

The whole experience was awful. I'd never been so blatantly molested before. Mind you, I was even fully clothed in jeans and long sleeves with a huge backpack and one small one in front of me. All this time, I had blamed myself for even being friendly towards him. It's quite sobering and now I understand how it feels to be violated in such a manner - sometimes it's not the act itself that plays out in my mind, it's the self-reproach. "I shouldn't have done this, I shouldn't have done that. Did I lead him on?"

In the end, I realise it wasn't my fault. There was no flirtation involved.

He simply should not have touched me.

I may sound like I'm giving him an excuse, but I think culturally, they're also not used to seeing women out at night at that time, which is normal by all standards in developed countries. 9pm, 10pm. So he might've seen me as fresh meat, while I had forgotten how dangerous it can still be in places like that. He could've also perceived my friendliness as 'something more'.

Despite all my solo travels, it's reminded me that there are risks that come with the adventures I take and the trust I put in strangers. Often, I choose to take the riskier side for the sake of seeing more things and meeting more people. This time however, it came with a price. A reminder in life as well.

Nevertheless, it was still such a wonderful trip to Sri Lanka. One dirty experience couldn't taint the rest of it.

In fact, it ended really well. All it took was one tuk tuk driver to turn it around.

When I ran off, I quickly booked a tuk tuk to the airport and the driver turned out to be an honest and nice man. I told him how beautiful his country was and he was happy to hear that. But he also reminded me that his country was still lesser developed, and that people were still poor - that I should sometimes, err on the side of caution, which was very sound advice at that point of time. We laughed as well at one point when I saw some buildings that looked just like Singapore's HDB flats. I gave him an amount that was over the price of what was needed and he said it was too much.

It was just a trick on my part, I intended to give him the tip anyways.

Thanks Stanley, for ending my trip in the best possible way! :)

Yay! Thanks for reading my Sri Lankan experience till the end. I hesitated about writing that horrible experience and almost wanted to leave it out so that the entire trip would've sounded like a fairytale. But then, it would have been far from the truth. So yknow, I thought it's always good to have the awful bits written out as well. They're exactly what makes the experience whole... and real.

Till my next adventure, Sri Lanka has been bloody amazing :-)

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Taahira Ayoob said...

Oh man! The ending and your realisation are what I learnt some weeks ago too!!! I feel how you feel about it and I think to myself, now we know ������ also foops and I went to Sri Lanka in 2014 hahahaha seems like a Long time now but I Remember every beautiful distinctness of
It :) esp nurwa Eliya!!!

You take care stings!

Tan Si Hui said...

nice to know someone's understands meee :)
thanks taahira!

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