We raised our glasses of Arrack, Sri Lankan Whiskey, and cheered on a legit awesome night. ‘We’ consists of a group of backpackers from all over the world, some funky Aussies, cool New Zealanders and more fun guys from Belgium, France, Bering and Canada. We talked about life and later danced on reggae remixes of Abba. I wasn’t wearing any makeup, my hair felt disgusting, there were random stains on my baggy, white shirt and the dark circles under my eyes were an inescapable sign of the lack of sleep I had in Camp Kush. Despite of all of that, I absolutely love life right here and I want to tell you all about it. However, last time we talked I was still in India and I had an airplane to catch. So let’s continue on that first…
It was 2 in the night, I got rid of the sleep in my eyes, stretched my arms once more and pushed myself out of the uncomfortable airplane seat. Tired af but hella excited, because we made it to SRI LANKAAAA! We got our visa’s, got through customs, took some money out the ATM’s and then…, then we waited for 4 hours. We had to catch a bus at 6, so we basically chilled in the airport for a few extra hours, stuffing ourselves with cheap cake.
We got to see the surroundings of Sri lanka during our first bus ride, the big city of Colombo was waking up. Fresh fruit stalls everywhere, rickshaws that weren’t only yellow (like the ones in India) but all colors and lots of screaming food vendors. We switched from bus to train and took a ride out of the city. We got away from all the city honks and saw more and more greenery, we hang out the doors and loved life already. We got out in Hikkaduwa and went straight to the beach to get some tan lines and a pineapple juice. Hikkaduwa is a small village with cute shops, small café’s and a stunning beach. It’s the kind of small town you see in movies, the kind that puts a smile on your face and the kind I’d love to live in for the rest of my life. Later that day, we got to go to our hostel, have a grilled cheese, meet some cool people like the Australian Max, the Dutchies Janine and Vince and some Germans. We ate some pizza and went to bed early after a 36 hour day.
We started the next day with the best chocolate, coconut, banana pancakes and went to the beach with Max. The day was chill and super slow, but good. There was a extremely heavy Monsoon storm in the late afternoon/evening so we spent the night playing a ton of games with a group of 6. Beers, laughter and lots of card and cup games. By the end of that night we left for another train ride to our next destination: Unawatuna.
We took our second train in Sri Lanka where we met the American Andrew. We talked about life, his and our travels and jumped from one train to another on a quick stop. (Fyi, literally jumped out of the door from one train, with a 1 meter gap onto another train.) The train stopped in Unawatuna, we got our heavy backpacks, said goodbye to Andrew and about that time, the train started moving again. We ran to the doors; Karlijn jumped and then, about two seconds later, I did too. Actually, I Flew. and Fell. FACK. KAR. FACK. I heard Kar’s voice from a distance saying ‘Ah, Masch, fack, you’re screwed… Are you okay?…’ There I was, laying flat on my stomach in a dark train station with no one around, a bleeding elbow and a ton of scratches on my arms. It was this moment that I realized I’m so happy we’re backpackers now, because my backpack totally broke my fall. My sweet, heavy travel buddy prevented me from breaking all my ribs.
We realized we didn’t try hardcore cheap backpacking yet, we had been eating out 3 times a day, bought a ton of cute stuff and travelled in a more luxurious class by train. We decided to change this up, so we had the great idea to walk to our hostel instead of getting a quick rickshaw, Ya know, save some money whenever you can. We ended up walking 20 minutes in the wrong direction, we forgot the name of our hostel (yes, the always prepared Masch forgot it all), we were walking in the dark, no lights, no internet, a heavy travel buddy and sweat and blood all over my body. Locals had no idea what we meant by some tipi hostel and service was nowhere to be found. It took me another 20 desperate minutes of serious brain storming on a dark side walk when I finally screamed out ‘CAMP KUSH’, thank god I remembered. We ended up taking a rickshaw anyway, we paid double because we walked in the wrong direction. The hardcore cheap backpackstyle isn’t going too well for us, but we’re slowly improving.
I was tired from feeling lost in the dark somewhere abroad, exhausted from the long walk and my left side of my body hurt from all the scratches, however the second we arrived at Camp Kush, that all changed. We saw a ton of people drinking, smoking and laughing, ‘Yo babes, have a drink, where y’all from?’. We met people with the coolest style and the coolest stories. Girls with denim skirts, hippy shirts, dreads and jewels all over their hands and feet. Guys with muscled sixpacks, tattoos and long, messy hair. Their life stories were even more impressive than their effortless style. People who live all over the world, worked in a million places, did volunteer work here, worked as paraglide assistants there, hearing about all their travel experiences and new travel plans was pretty amazing. And talking about my travel experiences and upcoming travel plans made me realize my life was pretty amazing too. That’s something Kar and I tell each other daily tho. ‘Kar, I love our lives.’ ‘Masch, why is life so amazing?’ We stayed for hours in the hippy hangout filled with sweat and weed fumes and went to the beach bar later on. We enjoyed our dances and the sand in between our toes.
The first night at Camp Kush was awesome, but our first day at Camp Kush was even more awesome. We had typical Sri Lankian breakfast with our hangover, took an icecold outside shower and went for a girls day with the Australian Liv and Zoë, the New Zealand girl Hope and the French Aude. We went to the beach for a tan, found the coolest swing spot (took a ton of photos for the gram), got some delicious sandwiches and curries for lunch and did some shopping. Later in the evening, Kar, Hope, Aude and I went to Galle. A picturesque town with Dutch influences, we walked around and took some more photos.
We got back, Camp Kush organised a BBQ for a 1000 rupees each, kinda expensive and it didn’t fit our vegetarian/flexiterian diet, so we went to get 50 rupees noodles instead, cheap and good hehe. You see, we can actually do the hardcore cheap backpack style too! We ended the night with more drinks and going out again. Which is honestly the most fun thing ever to do in Sri Lanka!
The next was the day that I’d finally see my parents again after 2,5 months! I was super excited and so were some other people from Camp Kush: ‘Yoo, your parents are coming in town today, they’re coming to Camp Kush? In the basic tipi’s? Ah man, that’s sick, they’ll have to have drinks with us and go out tonight! You’re parents are the coolest, my parents would never come here.’ The morning was eating, waiting, chilling with others, more waiting, talking about life and more waiting until they were finally there! Aaaah, hugs and kisses, showing them around and introducing them to everyone! We went to get their first Sri Lankan lunch, which was kottu (my fav), rice, roti and curry. We showed them around town in Unawatuna, went to the swing Dellawella beach, went to the Turtle beach (didn’t spot any tho…) and chilled out.
That night was a pretty special one. Everyone was drinking, my dad became one of the cool guys, telling this story about how his first driving experience in Sri Lanka was. ‘All of the sudden, I was a ghost driver, people were honking and we got this close to an accident, I was like, faack, this is scary man.’ ‘Wow, fack man, props to you for driving here, no way I’d do that, that’s some cool, tricky stuff.’ We ended playing Carrom with Cameron, Nick, Mitch, Freya, my parents and a few others. My parents tried a bit of the Sri Lankan Whiskey, but once ‘the heavier stuff’ got out, they backed out and went to sleep after a 21 hours of travelling and a busy day seeing new stuff and meeting new people. I won’t mention ‘the heavier stuff’, but let’s just say it’s the kinda stuff you really don’t want in your blood and has for example to do with horse tranquilizer. We def backed out from that too. Karlijn and I were all sober. Why? Because we were getting freaking tattoos! Yes, that’s right. My first tattoo. I was planning on getting my first tattoo in India, but I guess that’ll be my second one now.
Someone was able to come to Camp Kush and a ton of backpackers would get small, new tattoos. The guy ended up cancelling, he wasn’t able to come by anymore. However we got all excited and decided we’d just go into town and get one anyway. We went to the jeweler shop, bought a ton of cute rings and then went into the tattoo shop to get something small, cute and memorable of this amazing place. I ended up getting the explore, travel symbol, which I think looks absolutely beautiful. It’s a triangle with a line right through it and I placed it on my upper arm. There was barely any pain, but a lot, lot of excitement. After the tattoo shop, we went to the last, big beach party with the entire group. The last night was amazing and definitely one to remember.
The next day was the day we had to leave Camp Kush. We said goodbye to everyone, wished them all awesome travels and we’d all share a ton of cool photos on FB and Instagram. We might see Nick again in India and we might come across Liv and Zoë in Europe, we got a ton of invites to come over and crash at their place in Melbourne and gave em all big, Australian hugs.
Dad, mom, Kar and I went for a roadtrip to Tissa which is shortened for Tissamaharama. We took a few stops on the way, bought some really cheap pineapples, mangos and watermelons and got a few, fresh fruit juices. Honestly, warm temperatures and cheap, fresh fruit are the few best things about places like this. If it wasn’t so crazy expensive, I’d have it every single day in the Netherlands. We stopped at a few beaches and then drove straight to Tissa. We came across a huge food market, smelled stinky fish and tried a ton of random, spicy snacks. My parents had Samosa’s for the first time ever, and that made me miss the boys a little. The biggest joke on the project is that my nickname is Samosa, I miss the young Sunil Joshua coming up to me giving me hugs while screaming ‘Samosaaa’ and I miss the older Moorthy and I making fun of each other that I’d be eating Samosa’s all night and he’d be eating ‘Purthu Kolais’ all night. However, we’re having too much fun in Sri Lanka to miss anyone, really.
We went to bed early (ish at 11), because we had a safari tour at 4 am. Yes, 4 in the morning! It was just a few hours later, when we were ready to spot some elephants, leopards and water buffalo’s in our huge jeep. On average, leopards are spotted from quite a distance, about 3 times a week. We hoped we’d get to see one, but we knew the odds were small. We were driving and driving for about an hour or 2 and all of the sudden the driver hit the brakes , we jumped out of our chairs. There were 2 leopards in the tree, about 2 meters away from us! The jeep in front of this didn’t see them and there was no one else around. We were in awe, took photo’s, filmed videos and watched in pure silence. The driver said he had been doing this job for years and never saw them from this close. He called in some other drivers and within 10 minutes there were about 25 other jeeps. All from way further, trying to get a view. The leopards ran off and we all drove further. Seeing the driver this proud was amazing, we all got out of the jeeps and people were yelling , clapping and praising him. Damn, he was the star of the day and we were the lucky foreigners. We ended up seeing elephants, monkeys, water buffalo’s , deer’s and many birds. The leopard moment was absolutely the highlight of the day tho!
We ended up getting Sri Lankan Jaffles (aka grilled cheeses) for lunch and then drove further to Ella. We saw some amazing Buddha creatures carved out in the rocks at Buduruvagala, saw a beautiful mountain waterfall and bought cute souvenirs. I look even more hippy now with my turtle, carved out of wood, necklace. We arrived in Ella by the evening, it was high in the mountains, looked very green and all the wooden, authentic restaurants reminded me almost of a summer town in the mountains in Austria. We ended the night with cheese Kottu, slow music and extreme exhaustion. I’m starting to feel that the tiredness is kicking in, all I want is sleep and a call with people from home. I guess that I’m mentioning this just because even in perfect weeks like these (this is truly one of the better weeks in my life), you don’t necessarily always feel perfect. However, sleep will do good to me now. I can’t wait to go to bed, to close my eyes and to sink in the mattress. Goodnight loves.