The passionate traveling public (besides Paul Theroux and Graham Greene) are intrigued  with everything Sri Lanka has to offer; known as The Pearl of the Indian Ocean, Conde Nast Traveler to Lonely Planet has cited it as the wanderer’s must see destination. The island country has eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. A very rich history.  Endless beaches. NOMAD-CHIC visited last month, exploring the Southwest Coast – from Colombo to Galle.
What inspired you to go to Sri Lanka?
The country has remained isolated in a way that few regions have. Starting in the 16th century, Sri Lanka was ruled by the Portuguese, Dutch and British. The British took control in 1815, and it wasn’t until 1948 that the nation gained independence and 1972 that is assumed Republic status, taking the name Sri Lanka. (Sri is an honorary term; Lanka means island.) Civil War took hold from 1983 to 2009 – tourism is new to Sri Lanka. It’s less of an industry as an occurrence. The idea of going somewhere recently opened to the public was really amazing. This is the full first person 2013 Nomad Chic adventure – we had to pick a place to go (by February in New York, ‘had’ means sanity) and we picked Sri Lanka. Granted, we love South East Asia and the beach, so it had to be good.
How does Sri Lanka’s history shape the travel experience?
Visiting Sri Lanka is like going to one of the smaller Indonesian islands – with the color and fierceness of India. The energy is one of going to an island country in the middle of the ocean with a very rich culture that is disconnected from pop.  Intense. When you arrive, you feel like you’ve detached from the rest of the world. It’s such a long trip – 24 hours in the sky and 12 hours ahead of EST. Upon landing, you have actually entered into another state, because your mind is so spun from the period in transit.
You spend the first week and a half in Sri Lanka feeling like you’re dreaming- it’s very hot, it’s very humid, and you’re in the jungle. Your clothes don’t dry. The ecosystem, the food, the faces, the everything is completely different from your everyday. You feel like you’re in a dream- simultaneously engaged and abstractly detached. So you give in to the feeling. You’re very in the moment.  There’s nothing else like it. It’s the perfect place to blissfully surrender to. It’s authentically stunning and the vibe is simultaneously color saturated and mellowly benevolent and kind. It shares some of the tourism and energy of India, but is very much it’s own. During my travels, I often heard people say, “you will either fall in love with Sri Lanka, or run away.”  A friend in New Delhi loves Sri Lanka, and refers to it as ‘the Wild West.’ It does have a sort of renegade feel.
Advice upon arrival:
When you arrive, make sure you have a place in mind or already reserved to stay for the first few nights.  To acclimate best to countries that are “developing,” get out of the city you fly into as quickly as possible. Escape the noise, pollution, etc. Go to quieter country spot.

April 2013