In need of some sun and a breath of fresh air, the urge to travel to somewhere new kicked in as the New Year arrived. As I was in India, Chennai to be exact, for a work assignment, I seized the opportunity to use some of my annual leave to factor in a trip before I had to fly back to London. An Indian Ocean escape was on my mind.
Not realising how close Sri Lanka and Maldives are to India, I opted for a multi-trip holiday instead as I really wanted to visit both countries. After careful planning and research, I decided to fly to Sri Lanka first for 4 days then fly to Maldives for 3 days before returning back to Chennai to catch my return flight to London.
An early Saturday morning arrived and once I got through the nightmare of excessive immigration queuing at Chennai Airport, I flew off to Sri Lanka via SriLankan Airlines.
My introduction to Sri Lanka was interesting. It felt more refined than Chennai but has the similar hustle and bustle, vibrancy and splash of colour. Colombo is quite modern, busy but has its beauty within subtle temples and points of interest. It was easy to get around via the tuk tuks, cabs or buses.
Commuting from Colombo to Kandy was straightforward since the first class train cabin was comfy and not cramped unlike the second and third class cabins. The train journey provided some beautiful views of the tea country; something you can’t witness via a car commute.
I stayed in Kandy for two nights. It seems calmer and picturesque, whilst trekking to higher points to have better city views. It was quicker for me to get around the place on foot and quite sweet to witness a lovely sunset over the calm lake. Having a taste of the local food was a delight. There were savoury samosas and sweet baked treats on display in the many bakeries for tourists to enjoy.
I had to visit Sigiriya as it is considered one of the jewels of Sri Lanka and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. I took the +3 hour bus ride from Kandy direct. Entrance fees were extremely extortionate for foreigners but I had to suck it up and pay. The early morning heat and prolonged walking took its toll on me but the views and sights from the entire fortress was worth it to me.
The train back to Colombo from Kandy was a complete nightmare as the train time I opted for had no first class cabins available and it was during the morning rush hour period. Spent the entire journey of almost 3 hours sitting on my big suitcase with a huge frown. One of the worst public transport experiences ever!
Spent my final day in Sri Lanka in Negombo to stay close to the airport for my early morning flight. Decided to venture out during the sunset period to visit shops and check out the beach area.
Although Sri Lanka was lovely to explore, it was very obvious that the country rarely gets black visitors, judging by the frequent cold stares and approaches I received from the locals. I did find it frustrating on a few occasions however that did not spoil my time in the country.
Excitement soon filled when I woke up on the Wednesday because I knew I was going to be in Maldives that same day!
Centara Ras Fushi Resort
As soon as I landed at Malé Intenational airport, a huge sigh of relief and a quick injection of happiness touched me. I was finally at one of my top 5 dream destinations and I felt so lucky to be there. The flight from Sri Lanka was ridiculously short and smooth. Landing on Maldivian soil and the sun breaking out of the clouds. It felt wonderful.
Stayed one night at Hulhumalé, using this time to get out and about Malé City. Took the cheap public ferry across to the island. It was extremely easy to get around on foot in the capital of Maldives as motorbikes and scooters dominated the island’s roads. I did find the area quite underwhelming, nevertheless the weather was crisp, keeping a smile on my face.
Over the following two days, I stayed in the local island of Maafushi. A small community flourished in this island and a lot of construction work happened as more developments were being built around the area. The palm trees and beach areas really shined as the sun beamed across the place. The environment felt relaxed and homely.
I went on a sandbank excursion where I transported with an Italian couple on the speedboat to a deserted sandbank in the middle of the ocean. It felt pretty surreal to see nothing but some sand and sea. Took the opportunity to top up on my melanin within my skin via sunbathing and take pictures.
The following day, I took a resort day trip to Centara Ras Fushi, which is one of the five star luxury island resorts near Maafushi. The entire settlement was stunning, the beach area was clean and the views were unmatched. I went around the island, took a heap load of pictures, sunbathed when the sun was at its highest, used a paddleboat and had a little dip in the water.
I loved the luxury resort experience in its entirety, especially that I didn’t have to dig deep in my pockets to spend a fortune being there. Some good relaxation and tranquil time at last!
Sadly, all wonderful things must come to an end. I thoroughly enjoyed my solo trip to Maldives and Sri Lanka in January. My only regrets? Not trying out more local food in Sri Lanka and not spending a longer time in Maldives.
Having a taster of both destinations, I can happily say that would definitely go revisit, especially Maldives for that required tropical warm climate.