I was never meant to end up in Sri Lanka, and wouldn’t have if not for a series of unusual events. I met a girl, cancelled my flight home to be with her, and when things didn’t work out I was left with no ticket back to Australia, and no burning desire to go there anyway.
In Santorini I met a strange man who told me that something I was looking for was in Sri Lanka. I often base major life decisions on advice for overweight strangers in Hawaiian shirts, so I organised to spend three weeks exploring the island nation on my way home. I didn’t know if I’d find what I wanted in Sri Lanka, but it seemed like a good enough plan at the time.
Sri Lanka is a fantastic country that I will remember fondly for the rest of my life. It has a personality all of its own, a positive vibe that stands out amongst the poverty. The people are wonderful, the beaches at times magnificent, and travelling from place to place feels like an adventure without ever feeling like a massive chore. On top of that, the weather is perfect and the clash of cultures – Sri Lankan, British, Dutch, Portuguese – makes for a fascinating nation that is unlike any other. They also love their cricket, which is never a bad thing.
While it’s not a place to go to if you want to party or get drunk (and, to be honest, after two months of near-constant boozing in Europe, I needed a break) the food makes up for that. Sri Lankan food is simple but delicious – lots of seafood, tomatoes, onions, rice. I truly will miss this place, and I’m so happy I was able to spend an extended amount of time here, without having to rush from one place to another. I’m so glad I did make the journey, because I did find what I was looking for.
Last year, fresh off receiving my redundancy from the evil bastards at Bauer Media, I set off on a trip through Asia, with no steady plan to return, wanting to go as far as I could and let the experience change me. I was back inside six weeks after struggling to cope with life on the road, feeling ashamed of myself. I barely thought about travelling for the next year, which is unusual for me because I’m always thinking about places I’d rather be.
That’s why this trip was so important. I originally planned to be away for nine weeks, making sure I booked a return flight that I couldn’t back out of. I ended up staying 13, and could happily travel for longer that. I climbed mountains and walked through ancient cities, kayaked along lonely stretches of water and got chased by drunk Polish dudes. I chased waterfalls and danced with beatniks and rode up a mountain on a fucking quad bike. I met people who changed my life, some for a long time, some for a night. I had the adventure of a fucking lifetime as I travelled from the top of Europe to the bottom, but it was coming to Sri Lanka that enabled me to find what I’ve been searching for.
In Sri Lanka, I came to realise that I can stay overseas by myself for a long time, and that I don’t need other people. I don’t need to scurry back to my house, I don’t need to go back to Australia. I’ve always been independent, but I was never sure of just how independent. This trip has set the foundations for something much, much bigger to come – an epic journey around the world that will push me to my limits and open my eyes to new people, countries and cultures. But until then, I need a sleep, because all this adventuring has made me fucking tired.