Our Sri Lanka honeymoon

our welcome from the hotel staff

"Sri Lanka?", you're wondering. Yes, we took our honeymoon on the island nation of Sri Lanka. It's the teardrop-shaped island off the southern tip of India, for those of you struggling to remember your high-school geography lessons right now. Bulgarians don't need visas in advance to travel to Sri Lanka, so a local travel agency was offering package holidays there. We were trying to conserve funds, and the price was great, so we signed up.

Our first pleasant surprise was our hotel in Sri Lanka, Club Palm Bay in Marawila. Club Palm Bay is Sri Lanka's first all-inclusive resort. If the four most beautiful words in the English language are "all you can eat", then the six most beautiful words must be "all you can eat and drink". Each meal was served buffet-style, mostly with local cuisine, but with a few Western dishes to satisfy the German tourists. Of course, when you're offered an infinite amount of food and drink for a finite amount of money, instinctively you want to maximize your value, right? So we overate and overdrank for the first couple of days, until we stabilized our diets somewhat. It was going to be three weeks in Sri Lanka--we didn't want to come back 15 kilograms heavier.

The guest rooms were in guest houses around the grounds. The Bulgarian travel agency had told the Club Palm Bay management when they made our reservation that we were on our honeymoon, so we were welcomed with a heart-shaped cake (it says "Enjoy your stay at Club Palm Bay"), a bottle of French champagne, and a fresh fruit platter.

A refreshing coconut

I knew very little about coconuts before this trip. There are two kinds of coconuts in Sri Lanka. There's a green one, which you peel to take out the "nut", which is the brown hairy coconut we're all familiar with. And there's an orange one, the "king coconut", which is filled with a watery liquid. Here's Rali enjoying a king coconut with breakfast.

Rali encounters the wildlife

Sri Lanka is filled with monkeys. Everywhere. This one was a tame one.

Two monkeys

After about 10 days at Club Palm Bay, we went on a 9-day guided excursion around the island. One of our first stops was at the Rock Temple at Dambullah. This is a Buddhist temple built into a natural rock cave. It's incredibly beautiful inside, but no photos are allowed.

Rich and Rali in the jungle

Here we are at a temple at one of Sri Lanka's ancient capitals. The city was abandoned some 700 years ago during an invasion by India, and the jungle took over. Earlier in this century, archaeologists discovered the lost city and have been uncovering it ever since. Here we are at an ancient Buddhist temple. Note that we had to cover our legs but take off our shoes at all holy Buddhist sites.

another jungle temple

This temple was a Hindu temple in the same lost city.

In the mountainous center of the island

Our trip took us to the center of the island, where tea is grown on the mountainsides. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant surrounded by some eight waterfalls on all sides.

Rali on the beach

On the southern side of the island, the beaches were especially attractive. Our driver pulled over periodically for Kodak moments like this one.

a Hindu temple in Columbo

We made a day trip into Sri Lanka's capital city, Columbo. In general, it was hot and crowded, but our guide took us to an enormous Hindu temple on a side street. Note the colorful roof carvings, characteristic of Hindu temples.

a tuk-tuk taxi

Anyone who's traveled around Southeast Asia will be familiar with "tuk-tuks". They're three-wheeled vehicles, named for the sound they make. Rali and I took an hour-long trip in a tuk-tuk to a nearby city. We thought traveling by tuk-tuk would be somehow more authentic. I guess it was, but we really needed a shower when we got back to Club Palm Bay.

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