6 minutes reading time Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, one of the few countries I could travel to in Covid-times. And although I have only been here for one and a half weeks, I think I could write a book about it already.
I went straight to Ahangama, the south coast of Sri Lanka, just because a friend of mine recommended it to me. It should be a digital nomad paradise; as it is a paradise for surfers and yogis.
And paradise it is baby! For now, I experience the south coast of Sri Lanka as a place that is intentionally decorated for western digital nomads. This place is the best for young, vibrant people, willing to stay longer at one place, in contrast to the stereotype backpacker we all know. A few weeks ago, I read of the term ‘flashpacker’: a backpacker that brings all their digital gear doesn’t move too much and is willing to pay just a tiny bit more for some luxury and a safe place for their stuff. And I think the south of Sri Lanka is great for this type of traveler. There are loads of beautiful, well-designed hostels and cafés with fine Wi-Fi connection and a nice cup of coffee. The vibe is chill and that is probably also caused by the huge amount of surfer travelers and yoga travelers that come to Ahangama since it has great waves. Not only during daytime the south coast is great, but nighttime should be great as well, so I have heard.
I wouldn’t know for sure, and that is the newness and interesting about this experience, I guess. Sri Lanka is only just out of lockdown and the season, climate-wise, is only just about to start. So, now, trains do not run yet, there are no parties, and just a few cafés are open during the daytime. As a result of that, the only people I am meeting right now are locals and ex-pats. And that is so different and new to what I am used to! I identify myself as a traveler, as a backpacker, I like to move around, see a lot of the world, and meet plenty of new people. And the reason I love that probably is that it gives me a feeling of freedom and it is easy because all travelers are constantly seeking new connections. After all, no one wants to be alone at the end of the day.
But then, Covid happened. And travelers went back to their home countries. Or they stayed, and therefore became ex-pats. Those I meet a lot at the moment in Sri Lanka. And that can be hard if you are expecting to meet people as easily as you do when you were traveling pre-covid times. Because these people I meet right now already created a life here and aren’t constantly seeking new connections because they already have each other.
On the other hand, these same people, are so happy to see a new face after one and a half years of lockdown. And they are so willing of showing me around. And there lies the beauty of this whole story: it is probably very unlikely to happen again that you can surf over here in a furthermore empty sea, or that you get to great height for sunset without waiting in a queue of tourists to get there. Or that you get in touch with locals in a friendly way because you get introduced by common friends. I am experiencing this country in a whole new way and sometimes I love it and sometimes it is so asking me to get out of my comfort zone.
So, what are the typical local things to do besides surfing and practicing yoga? Let me tell you one thing, living on the south coast of Sri Lanka means planning your whole day around sunset! Sri Lanka has one of the most beautiful sunsets in the whole world and living here you most likely will not miss one. Because of that, it is also very hard to schedule an appointment with someone around sunset time, but you will get used to that.
Make friends with the locals
Furthermore: do not be too suspicious when locals are trying to have a chitchat with you. They are sincerely interested, and you will figure out that lots of them are entrepreneurs and own great concepts like surf schools, cafés, or co-working places. They are willing to learn from you and you will have the most inspiring conversations with them, especially with the younger guys. I say guys because although I do enjoy the connections I make with the locals, they probably will only be with guys. Sri Lanka, and especially Sri Lankan villages, is still very conservative and you will not meet a lot of Sri Lankan girls. Since they will mostly stay at home and aren’t able to speak English as the men do. Therefore also, do be aware of this culture with these macho guys: enjoy possible friendships but just be very clear and straight about your boundaries.
Got to love dogs
Then, at last, for now, almost everyone in Sri Lanka owns at least a dog or two. The dogs that are owned by people are great. They are vaccinated and neutered, and they are super friendly, you can pet them! You will meet them in a guesthouse or when you are at the beach during sunset. Be aware of the street dogs though. They are used to humans, so you don’t have to be afraid. But maybe don’t pet them since they are probably not vaccinated, and they can be a little dodgy.
Come to Sri Lanka now
Sri Lanka already has a special place in my heart since I am getting to know it in such a different way than I got to know all other countries I have been to. The food is great, the people are nice, the waves are good, and the sun is shining. Being vaccinated there are no travel restrictions for you as a tourist, you just have to wear a mask when you are on the street. Slowly everything is opening again and I heard the trains will start running again from the beginning of next week. So I would recommend you to come to Sri Lanka right now; to experience a touristy, beautiful country as you will never do again.
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