Maldives & Sri Lanka

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From Our Honeymoon to Touring the Motherland

We were greeted by a sloppy dude who turned out to be the owner when we arrived at The Blue Eyes Inn. He said our room was not yet vacated so we would get a different room and a discount for the inconvenience. After seven too many apologies, it was clear that he was not in his right state of mind. We were escorted to our room by a staff member; going up narrow stairs with peeling paint and the entire place echoed with birds chirping and children laughing somewhere distance. The hotel staff that escorted us said that today was the first day the owner had drank in eight months and apologized on his behalf.When we walked into the room, I tried to hold in my panic but with every word I spoke, I began to crack. I don’t know if I can stay here. I don’t think I’m cool enough to not overthink this. We were basically in a closet. The bed took most of the room and bore baby pink bed-sheets that lost its luster. On the bed was a stiff towel that was origami’d into a swan.

There was a mosquito net for the bed.

That's how you know.

Everything was worn and not all quite clean-looking. This a nightmare for someone like me with a type of OCD that deters me from staying in anything old. I’d rather stay at a new Hilton Garden Inn than a famously historic or boutique hotel.

I remember unraveling. Why this place? Why wasn’t I warned we’d be staying here? I was upset, tired, and most of all: not mentally prepared to stay where we were staying for the next two nights.

“Okay, I’m sorry but I don’t know if we can stay here. I’m not cut out for this” I said. 

This was a low moment for me and as I’m looking back at this months later, I’m not proud of my freak out... but I am glad it happened.  It pushed me to figure out where I failed myself. I never studied abroad, I never go camping, I love to eat local but I never stay local, and I certainly don't make do with just one backpack.

 State of the art facilities at The Blue Eyes Inn

State of the art facilities at The Blue Eyes Inn

My husband booked this place and everything was intentional. We needed to somewhere like The Blue Eyes Inn. This is where backpackers come stay for weeks and truly experience Unawatana and Galle. Unlike me, he's backpacked, stayed at an array of hostels, and "roughed it out". To me, backpacking was a glittery concept where all I could imagine was the scenery in front of me and not the background it took for me to get there.

What made this extra hard was where we were few days prior. We had just gotten back from the most beautiful place on earth for our honeymoon.It’s the honeymoon you see on your Instagram explore page with the white sand, perfect shades of blue, coral, and happy people. We already had to be in Sri Lanka for probably our 7th wedding event so if Maldives wasn’t a 45 minute flight from Colombo, I wouldn't recommend going all the way there when Bora Bora or Hawaii is much closer for that "luxury vacay" experience. 

After months of wedding stress, several events, seven flights, and a boat ride, we arrived to Angsana Ihuru.

Maldives

  The Maldives has over two thousand islands and only 200 of them are inhabited. Every resort is on its own island. The airport is on its own island. Do not fact check this.

The Maldives has over two thousand islands and only 200 of them are inhabited. Every resort is on its own island. The airport is on its own island. Do not fact check this.

  Every villa at Angsana Ihuru had its own part of the island. Four times a day, we'd see a scantily clad, old European couple talking a stroll around the shore.  You could walk the entire island in less than seven minutes.

Every villa at Angsana Ihuru had its own part of the island. Four times a day, we'd see a scantily clad, old European couple talking a stroll around the shore.  You could walk the entire island in less than seven minutes.

  Breakfast was my favorite meal of the day. It taught me to slow down, eat well, and appreciate my life. This is also where my off-wedding-diet really shined. Also, have you had rombutan and mangosteen before? Makes lychee look like childs play.

Breakfast was my favorite meal of the day. It taught me to slow down, eat well, and appreciate my life. This is also where my off-wedding-diet really shined. Also, have you had rombutan and mangosteen before? Makes lychee look like childs play.

 By now, you realize that we bought a nice camera just for this trip. 

By now, you realize that we bought a nice camera just for this trip. 

  Visited the capital, Male, one day. The Maldives is 100% Muslim and their population is about the size of Plano, Texas. 

Visited the capital, Male, one day. The Maldives is 100% Muslim and their population is about the size of Plano, Texas. 

  One of the oldest mosques in the world, dating back to 1153.

One of the oldest mosques in the world, dating back to 1153.

  There is coral reef EVERYWHERE with hundreds of different types of fish. Safe to say I was freaking out everytime I snorkeled. Tariq is braver than me, which is why I married him.

There is coral reef EVERYWHERE with hundreds of different types of fish. Safe to say I was freaking out everytime I snorkeled. Tariq is braver than me, which is why I married him.

 Every morning started with this view. Resorts are an hour behind Male time so we could wake up at a decent hour to watch the sunrise every morning.  Three times a day, someone comes by and RAKES the beach so there are minimal leaves. I don't even vacuum three times a quarter. Let that sink in. 

Every morning started with this view. Resorts are an hour behind Male time so we could wake up at a decent hour to watch the sunrise every morning.  Three times a day, someone comes by and RAKES the beach so there are minimal leaves. I don't even vacuum three times a quarter. Let that sink in. 

Maldives was perfection but perfection can be unsustainable (mostly financially but also spiritually). We needed to be tourists after a week of just vacationing. However, the transition from vacationing to touring is a change in perception that has to consciously happen.

Everything is perspective for me. If I’m vacationing, my objective is pure leisure. Lots of snacking, laying around, reading, and tuning out of life. If I’m touring, I’m up for anything. I want to mindfully experience my surrounding, discover, and fully engage.

Vacation Mode 10pm: I can barely muster up the energy to order a second dessert.  

Tourist Mode 10pm: Change for dinner and a stroll on the beach after a full day of hiking.

What my initial breakdown came down to was a failure to change my perspective. A few hours later, I came to terms with that closet. It was just for sleeping. Why was I really there? To experience as much as I can. After we walked around the local shops, ate fresh fish on the beach, and experienced a rare moment of a tortoise giving birth, I was unfazed by the leaky faucets and worn curtains during my shower at The Blue Eyes Inn.

Galle and Unawatana

 Unawatana beach - a 45 second walk from our darling little closet at the Blue Eyes.  So, story time: Our second night, we tried to get into a sad attempt at a "party on the beach". There was a DJ and some flashing lights so I knew I had to be there. When we walked up, they said we had to pay for this. We started walking away. Then I noticed that white people just walked up and were able to go in without $$. So I went back and asked why, I didnt want to jump to conclusions like RACISM. "Tourists are free" he says. I told him we were American and he wasn't quite buying it. "You look like you're from here or India". Here's my counter racism: there are SO MANY Indians and Sri Lankans that speak perfect English in our "American accent" to telemarket that I could barely pass as American in their own country. Anyway, I was eventually let in I walked in and out of that lame party in 30 minutes. Whatever. 

Unawatana beach - a 45 second walk from our darling little closet at the Blue Eyes.  So, story time: Our second night, we tried to get into a sad attempt at a "party on the beach". There was a DJ and some flashing lights so I knew I had to be there. When we walked up, they said we had to pay for this. We started walking away. Then I noticed that white people just walked up and were able to go in without $$. So I went back and asked why, I didnt want to jump to conclusions like RACISM. "Tourists are free" he says. I told him we were American and he wasn't quite buying it. "You look like you're from here or India". Here's my counter racism: there are SO MANY Indians and Sri Lankans that speak perfect English in our "American accent" to telemarket that I could barely pass as American in their own country. Anyway, I was eventually let in I walked in and out of that lame party in 30 minutes. Whatever. 

  This is inside Galle Fort in Sri Lanka. Normally rickshaws are covered in dust, old bollywood stickers, and crazy colors. You will never see rickshaws this coordinated and pristine elsewhere (sorry Bangaldesh, India, and Pakistan). 

This is inside Galle Fort in Sri Lanka. Normally rickshaws are covered in dust, old bollywood stickers, and crazy colors. You will never see rickshaws this coordinated and pristine elsewhere (sorry Bangaldesh, India, and Pakistan). 

 Inside this fortress, the homes, hospitals, and old businesses were converted into restaurants, eclectic bars, beautiful shops, and trendy living spaces. 

Inside this fortress, the homes, hospitals, and old businesses were converted into restaurants, eclectic bars, beautiful shops, and trendy living spaces. 

  LOOK AT ALL THIS FOOD THATS NOT THERE.  Downside of Sri Lanka: not a major emphasis on service. The dude told us "it's only been 45 min" when we asked where our food was. 

LOOK AT ALL THIS FOOD THATS NOT THERE.

Downside of Sri Lanka: not a major emphasis on service. The dude told us "it's only been 45 min" when we asked where our food was. 

 GA-REE. Now you can say "car", a word that is the same for almost every language spoken in South Asia.

GA-REE. Now you can say "car", a word that is the same for almost every language spoken in South Asia.

 A stranger in the water who left a poetic impression on me. It was either this or going shopping with his wife. 

A stranger in the water who left a poetic impression on me. It was either this or going shopping with his wife. 

End Note: Using the word husband is so awkward. While "wife" gets to be a smooth, one-syllabus word, "husband" falls out like a word going through puberty. However, my huz-band is authorized to draft divorce papers if I ever refer to him as hubby so huz-band it is.