True adventure is not for the faint at heart. Sure, screensaver photographs and Pinterest boards look beautiful, but crossing thousands of miles of ocean and being fully immersed in the culture of a mysterious land is only the first step in the long and sometimes emotional journey of international travel. Just ask Lex Weinstein, who recently embarked on a trek to Sri Lanka, a tiny speck of land in the Indian Ocean.
Pictured: Women’s Foxy Boot
“Sri Lanka is one of the most incredible places I’ve ever been,” she says. “Incredible meaning chaotic, vibrant, bustling, and dramatic. The tropical weather was uncharacteristically rogue, the food spicy as hell, and the people abrupt and unforeseeable. Buildings splashed with color stand in dilapidated elegance and trains from decades past zip through rugged, tropical terrain. I can still smell the mix of spiced curry, and taste the sweetness of fresh pineapple.”
While it was a challenge, Weinstein took home lessons learned only after weeks of exploring. Here, she spares us the grunt work with her five top do-dos in Sri Lanka. Photos by Woody Gooch and Nick Green.
Language: Sinhala and Tamil
Time Zone: Sri Lanka Standard Time
Exchange Rate: 1 Sri Lankan Rupee to .0070 USD
“My journey through Sri Lanka with Teva was, at its core, an adventure,” says Weinstein, who brought along our Original Universals. “It felt wildly appropriate for a shoe based on resilience, spirit, and authenticity. Teva sandals are functional, a shoe you’re glad to be wearing when it starts monsooning in the middle of a vertical hike up an ancient ruin, that allows you to keep climbing through leech-infested hikes to pristine waterfalls, and that act as the perfect padding between a stack of surfboards on a tuk-tuk hunt for waves.”
What to Do:
SURF: The waves in Sri Lanka are playful and abundant. Bring a longboard or fish-style surfboard; I had incredible fun on both. If you’re around the south coast, Mirissa Beach and the surrounding areas have everything you could ever need, from surfboard rentals to lessons to diversity in the types of waves. It’s a great landing spot if surf is priority.
EAT: I couldn’t decide which was better, the surf or the food, so let’s call it a tie. Imagine Indian curry but with a twist. Sweet caramelized onion relish, bitter melon, spicy scraped coconut with a crisp citrus punch. Samosas, roti, and exotic curries are plentiful and delicious. My favorite spots were Roti in Mirissa and Aroma Restaurant in Hikkaduwa. Just be prepared for a spicy kick and ask for “no spice” is you prefer mild flavor or “just a little spice” if you want to feel the burn.
Pictured: Men’s Durban Waxed Canvas
YOGA: Santosha Yoga Retreat was where I spent my first week in Sri Lanka. I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to such a beautiful place. A pristine resort with the best wave around right out the back, I started and ended every day with meditation and yoga led by a team of sensational teachers. Retreat Director Kori Hahn will share with you all her best kept secrets, and you’ll be living like a local in no time.
Pictured: Women’s Original Universal Backpack
TAKE THE TRAIN: For those prepared for a real adventure, take the second or third-class train ride into the mountains. To prepare for the trip, open a can of sardines and appreciate the luxurious amount of space gaping between each tiny fish—then you might begin to understand the full contact sport that is riding the train in Sri Lanka. But if you’re lucky, you can wiggle your way toward hanging out a window or door, and when the wind blows on your humid, sweaty skin, there’s no other feeling like it in the world.
SLEEP: There are so many options for where to stay and what to do when traveling, so why not choose somewhere that gives you the opportunity to leave the place you’re visiting better than you found it, instilling you with education on the surrounding areas and having contributed to the livelihood of the local community? I highly recommend Polwaththa Eco-lodge in Kandy. Equipped with an excellent restaurant and array of beautiful tree-house style lodges, the helpful staff can also organize exactly the type of outdoor adventure you crave. Care to hike to a waterfall, visit a local school, learn to make curry from a village elder or visit an ancient ruin? They can arrange it all while minimizing your carbon footprint.
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