The final destination of our Sri Lanka adventure took us to Negombo. We opted for Negombo as it is a short Tuk Tuk from the airport. Negombo is on the west coast of Sri Lanka at the mouth of the Negombo Lagoon, in Western Province. Whilst only a short two-day stay, here’s what we got up to…
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The trip up to Negombo from Udawalawe was a long one, but it was also a beautiful one travelling through some of the more untouched parts of Sri Lanka. We got a chance to see some real rural villages and sights which are simply amazing.
As I mentioned in my first post we arranged all of our connections at the first Villa. This proved to be a really good idea as it meant we didn’t have to worry about the journey between places and could relax a bit more. This was even more paramount when we discovered there was bus and train strikes across the island during our time there. Buses and trains were our initial plan but we had to change that because of the strikes.
Along the way we drove through a lot of rice plantations. Interestingly enough, this wasn’t the main location for rice production but there are still hundreds of rice fields. In addition, the inner island is so green a lush. All of a sudden these HUGE expanses of land open up with lakes and rivers. Then, one turn of a corner and you are back among the thick jungle, it really is surreal.
The drive from the safari is a long one but it is full of cool places. If you do opt for a taxi commute, this isn’t expensive relative to European/US terms. Furthermore, if your drive is as good as ours they will stop for photo opportunities and give you pieces of information on the local areas as you drive further north.
Our hotel for our final couple of days was the Jetwing Lagoon. We couldn’t decide if we wanted a hotel or not for our last coupe of days, however, decided to go for a bit of luxury as the price when we booked was cheap. That’s the beauty of Sri Lanka, if you book at the right time the value for money is brilliant. The hotel is literally sat on the lagoon in Negombo and upon arrival, we were taken back by the pool, 100 meters!!!
We stayed in the villas over the road from the main hotel (a 25 meter walk) which were nice enough. However, I’ll be honest, considering the hotel was meant to be 5 star, the service was a bit hit and miss. The facilities are superb, clean and modern, but the laid back nature was even more pronounced here it seemed. Don’t get me wrong, they are all lovely, the lifeguard even added us on Facebook! It was just that we struggled to find help if we needed any advice. In addition during the day trying to order food from the bar was a challenge.
Overall I would recommend the hotel for a couple of days at the end of a trip, but not for any longer. The friendliness of the staff makes up for anything missing. However, just be prepared to be slightly more chilled than you anticipate.
What we ate…
One really positive aspect of the hotel was the food!
We ate in the restaurant for both nights (pool snacks in the day), and couldn’t fault the food there. It really is tasty, there’s a range of food from traditional Sri Lankan dishes to more western based dishes. We loved the food in Sri Lanka so opted for the traditional dishes and the curries. These came with an abundance of smaller dishes to fill your boots and had a real taste of home cooked food to them with a restaurant twist.
Not only this, but the hotel also offers cooking classes which we didn’t realise until the last-minute! If we’d known about these earlier we would have gone and tried one. Learning to cook the Sri Lankan way would have been really special.
I know I have said this a lot through this mini series, however, Sri Lankan food is arguably my favorite style of food. The way they use spices to build flavour and not just for heat is really impressive. In addition, the ingredients are all taken from the land and coconut oil is a staple (much cheaper than any other oil). This makes each dish really healthy.
The restaurant overlooked the lagoon which was quite impressive. Furthermore, we got lucky, as at night the tree was lit up. I think this was in preparation for a wedding, but even still it was mesmerising and a nice touch.
If you’re at home and haven’t been to Sri Lanka I’d recommend finding a traditional Sri Lankan restaurant local to you!
What we got up to…
I’ll be honest, we had a pretty chilled out final couple of days and it was exactly what we needed. We sent most of the days by the pool (The hotel has two, one on the beach, villa side, one at the main hotel). On the Tuk Tuk ride in we saw some of the local fishing spots. The area is known for its ports and fishing and this is still really active today. Locals will go out and catch fresh seafood each morning before selling it later on at market.
The lagoon itself is more for effect so the fishing takes place on the natural inlet from the ocean. It really is fascinating to see just how simple life can be. All the hustle and bustle of home seems ridiculous when you see how simple life can be in places like Negombo. It is one of the busiest cities in Sri Lanka yet still has this raw, opportune feel to it.
Finally, one thing we noticed as we traveled north/west was the change in religion. The south of the island is Buddhist which many statues and churches reflecting this, however, further west the people are Catholic. The churches and religious statues all change to Christ and it’s strangely reflective of home.
We were advised this is due to the British influence over the years which is sad in some ways. Upon arrival there was a huge religious festival taking place. They had parades down the streets and roads which were closed off. It was actually very impressive to see and full of colour. The Church’s in Negombo are just as beautiful as anywhere else in the world. Grand and old, they are almost focal points along the more rural roads but seem to just spring up on you.