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sri lanka

Taking A Chalkboard Around The World
Taking A Chalkboard Around The World
A trip around the world has always been on my bucket list. I still can’t believe that Jeff and I finally did it. We’ve just returned home to our sunny island home of Phuket, Thailand and finally have a moment to look back on our amazing journey around the world.
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Before we started this trip, I knew that we wouldn’t have the space in our luggage for souvenirs as we were going to nearly 30 different countries. Even though we have been told we packed light, I can assure you that our bags were anything but light. This inspired me to think a little outside the box for souvenir ideas.
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My favorite part about traveling is looking back on my photos long after the trip. It is a great way to put you right back to where you were and bring back memories you had long forgotten about. I wanted to do something fun and different with my photos. So I thought, “Why not bring a chalkboard?” I decided to have a photo taken of myself  holding a chalkboard with the name of the country I was in. I wanted a way to visually see each country while having a reminder of myself in that place during that time. Even if I may have been up all night, had not showered in days or was only in a country for a few hours, I wanted to remember all of it.
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Now, 28 images later, I have a fun collection of pictures that for me, sums up our 159 day, 32,281 mile trip around the world!
Taking A Chalkboard Around The World
CANADA:
Even though Canada isn’t too far from my home county, it was still really exciting to go visit! Two days in Vancouver and I was in love! Canada is a great country and Vancouver is a beautiful city!
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Chalkboard around the world
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ENGLAND:
Since we only had two rainy days in London, and as it was my first time to England I knew I wanted the cliché photo with a red phone booth!

 

Chalkboard around the world

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BELGIUM:
Brussels was a beautiful city and I was surprised at how modern of a city it was. We had one of our favorite meals of the entire trip in Brussels, an absolutely amazing beef stew. This photo was taken at the bus station before we boarded to Amsterdam.
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Chalkboard around the world
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ISRAEL:
With so much history in Israel, I had a hard time deciding where would be best to take a photo here. While we were driving with a guide through the desert we went to this cliff where you could see a beautiful monastery in the hillside. I thought that this would be a great reflection of this historical importance of Israel.

 

Chalkboard around the world
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IRELAND:
Green! I knew I wanted this photo to be green, but I struck it rich when we just happened to get some sunshine since it was gloomy and raining during most of our stay. Ireland may have been our first stop, but it was also one of our favorites. Read our “Complete Guide to Ireland” for our best recommendations!
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Chalkboard around the world

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MOROCCO:
Oh Morocco! We were here for just a few hours while stopping during a cruise we took early in the year. I had always imaged Morocco as a colorful place, however Casablanca was not what I imaged. This is at the Hassan II Mosque which is the 7th largest mosque in the world.

 

Chalkboard around the world

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AUSTRIA:
Innsbruck, Austria is a beautiful little ski town nestled in the mountains. We were lucky enough to stay with some wonderful friends here for 2 weeks!
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Chalkboard around the world

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SPAIN:
We were lucky enough to be in Barcelona on my birthday in January! Once again, this was a quick stop during our cruise so I can’t wait to get back to explore more!
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Chalkboard around the world

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CZECH REPUBLIC:
We met some great friends in Prague and had an amazing time exploring this beautiful old city. While Europe has some of the best beer in the world, I’d bet most of it can be found in Prague, and at a cheap price too!
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Chalkboard around the world

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EGYPT:
Egypt just may have been my favorite place on this trip! Not only did I fulfill a childhood dream of visiting the pyramids, but we also got to spend great time with some new friends!
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Chalkboard around the world

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HUNGARY:
Budapest is one of the most enchanting cities in Europe. It is a great city where history meets a modern twist. I would live here in a heartbeat! This was the first time we have used AirBNB and found ourselves in this old apartment complex trying to find which apartment was ours!

 

Chalkboard around the world

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES:
Even though we spent most of our time in Dubai, we were still able to get out and see the beautiful desert! Jeff and I were both really impressed with Dubai and can’t wait to get back to explore more.

 

Chalkboard around the world

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ESTONIA:
Tallinn, Estonia is a quant little old city and has so much culture and lots to see. We were only here for one night but enjoyed walking around the old town watching the snow fall.
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Chalkboard around the world

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FINLAND:
Finland is also on the top of my favorite places we’ve been to this year! Helsinki is a great design oriented town that is hip and embraces its rich history, although I had to take this photo while up in Lapland exploring the arctic circle and seeing snow fall for the first time in my life!
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Chalkboard around the world
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ITALY:
We went to many places in Italy, but it was in Venice during Carnival that I wanted to take this photo. Carnival was such a unique and beautiful way to explore all that Venice has to offer.
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Chalkboard around the world
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NORTHERN IRELAND:
While in Dublin, we decided why not take the 3 hour drive with some friends up to Northern Ireland to see the Giant’s Causeway and while we got there right after sunset we were able to catch some light for this photo!
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Chalkboard around the world
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GERMANY:
Germany has always been on the top of my list of places to visit in Europe and this year it finally happened! Although we only had 2 days in Berlin, it was great to learn more about Germany’s vast history and how the city has transformed to a modern city with tons of artistic expression.
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Chalkboard around the world
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HOLLAND:
I didn’t know if I should write Holland or The Netherlands but in the end it didn’t matter since we had such a great time in Amsterdam exploring the canals!

 

Chalkboard around the world

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PORTUGAL:
This photo is in Lisbon near the port while it was pouring rain. We had to be quick since the rain just kept washing the chalk off the board, but it made for a fun experience!
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Chalkboard around the world

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TURKEY:
Although Istanbul has so much history and culture, it was this pop of color while walking around that caught my eye. I wanted to show a different side to such an old city.
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Chalkboard around the world

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SWEDEN:
Since we spent an entire night at the airport in Stockholm we though it would be fun to take photos in the nearly abandoned airport at 2 in the morning.

 

Chalkboard around the world

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VATICAN:
The Vatican is such a beautiful place and it was very surreal to see all the paintings and murals in the museum, but it was here that meant the most to me. It really is amazing to stand here and thing about all the people that come here to see the pope.
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Chalkboard around the world

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MALDIVES:
Holy blue ocean! The Maldives are such a beautiful place. There are 1,190 different islands so it is hard to pick just one. We stayed in Maafushi which is a local island, but as you can see we still had a resort like beach to spend our time.
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Chalkboard around the world
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FRANCE:
Paris is a place that every girl longs to go to at least once in her life and I was no exception, I absolutely fell in love with Paris. We had an amazing 5 days here with a good friend who was kind enough to show us around this memorizing city. I can’t wait to get back and eat some more macaroons!

Chalkboard around the world

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SINGAPORE:
While it was not my first time in Singapore, it was great to be back and see how much this city has grown. Singapore is a beautiful city which great people and beautiful architecture.
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Thailand
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THAILAND:
Phuket will always be a second home to me and it is where we began and ended our around the world trip. Living here has really opened my eyes and taking this photo was really important. This photo was taken in a little lagoon in Koh Phi Phi Ley near where the majestic beach from the movie The Beach was filmed. You can see another hidden beach in the background that we could swim to. Taking a long tail boat out to this preserved island and spending the day snorkeling and soaking up the sun is my favorite thing to do in Thailand.
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MEXICO:
Growing up, my family always spent at least once if not twice a year in Mexico. This year I was fortunate enough to get the change to travel to a new place in Baja called Loreto. It is a great little fishing town located right on the Sea of Cortez.
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SRI LANKA:
Sri Lanka is a beautiful island nation located just southeast of India and visiting was a great treat for me. There are many elephants, beautiful landscapes and beaches. If you ever get the chance to visit this beautiful country, take it!
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Bio Photo Marina 150x150 My First Time: Taking a Cruise Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her boyfriend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world. 

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more. 

Hotel Review: Chaaya Tranz Hikkaduwa

Sri Lanka was a total surprise to us. Not only because of the endless beauty, kind people, amazing scenery and delicious food – but because so many people still believe there is some sort of unrest in the country. Nothing could be further from the truth and no one should ever miss out on a trip to this amazing country, whether for a weekend or a month. Having only a short weekend off from work in busy Dubai, the relaxed island nation of Sri Lanka is a short 4 hour flight away, the perfect weekend getaway – and the Chaaya Tranz hotel in Hikkaduwa couldn’t have been a better place to pick.

Outstretched across the sandy beaches in Hikkaduwa, a quiet little beach town just 2 hours from Colombo, the term “island life” take a whole new meaning. Time slows down, the smiles are more obvious and with the smell of the ocean in the air you instantly start to feel more relaxed.

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“You know a hotel has done something right when you can relax in their rooms and still feel as comfortable as if you were home.”

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From the second you walk into the open air lobby, you are greeted by the supremely warm staff, a delicious welcome drink and you want nothing more than to melt into one of their beach chairs and smile as you nod off to sleep in the sun.

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Each of the rooms have fantastic views over the entire grounds, littered with swimming pools, palm trees, lounge chairs and sandy beaches. Whether you want to lounge in the shade, enjoy a cocktail in the pool, feed giant sea turtles just steps from your room or enjoy delicious food with an amazing view, it is all available within a stones throw.

The rooms are simply perfect. Comfortable, bright and practical they leave you wanting nothing. You know a hotel has done something right when you can relax in their rooms and still feel as comfortable as if you were home.

The wonderful thing about a hotel like the Chaaya Tranz is that with views so amazing, you simply don’t want to do anything but get out and explore – exactly what every traveler dreams of.

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One of the best parts of the stay was easily the food. Hotels like this sometimes relax when it comes to food as their stunning setting does so much of the work for them, but not Cinnamon Hotels, whom go well out of their way to not only offer some of the most delicious local offerings, but also give you a taste of home if you need it. (but trust us, go for the local food, it is to die for.)

The breakfast buffet is stunning and the setting could not be more welcoming – you’ll never want to leave.

While you might be tempted to spend the entire stay sitting in the beautiful pool or on the golden sands, don’t miss out on all the hotel offers, including an amazing spa that will relax you like you never thought possible. Imagine having just finished a full body massage and then slipping into a comfortable lounge chair on your balcony as you fall asleep to the sounds of the ocean – amazing huh?

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Like with all hotel stays it really is the little things that make all the difference. Cheap plastic shampoo bottles being replaced with ceramic containers, staff that go out of their way to make you feel well attended to but not overbearing, waiters who keep your drink filled without hovering around and the most important part of a hotel room – a bed which you can absolutely melt into, making sure they take the extra steps to give you the most comfortable sleep possible.

Staying for a weekend is only torture because it goes by so quick, but regardless how long you stay, you will never forget your stay in this amazing little gem on the Sri Lankan coast. Hikkaduwa is a perfect little beach town which, thankfully, is a perfect balance between authentic Sri Lankan life and all the comforts tourists desire. Take a short walk around the town and you can find amazing hand crafted items to take home and take a certain back street and you’ll find beautiful small Bhuddist temple perched on a nearby hill.

Whether flying from close by Dubai or from the other side of the world Sri Lanka needs to be on every travelers list, and if you make it to this perfect little country we’ll gladly point you to Hikkaduwa and one of the best seaside hotels we have ever stayed at.

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jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast!

Sri Lanka

20 Images That Will Make You Plan A Trip To Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a country I never really thought too much about, but now that I have been I cannot stop thinking about it! There was so much beauty we just had to share some of what this beautiful country has to offer! These 20 images will really make you plan your next vacation to Sri Lanka. There are gorgeous temples and lush countryside as well as breathtaking beaches and even elephants!

 

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Follow Latitude 34’s board Travel Pinspiration! on Pinterest.

 

Bio Photo Marina 150x150 UPDATED: Taking A Chalkboard Around The World (PHOTOS)Marina Dominguez is the co-founder of Latitude 34 Travel Blog as well as a photographer and documentary film maker.

As a maturing women, Marina has dedicated her life to travel and new experiences. After working a 9-5 cubical lifestyle, Marina sold everything she owned, left her job and begun a new life with her best friend and travel companion, Jeff Johns. Together they relocated to Phuket, Thailand and founded Latitude 34 in which they seek to share their alternative lifestyle with the world.

Marina is a Visual Journalism graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography where she studied photography, videography and ultimately caught the travel bug. Through creating several international documentaries, Marina realized there was more to the world than work and wanted something more.

Do Not Miss Climbing Sigiriya in Sri Lanka

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Marina and I were recently lucky enough to jump over to Sri Lanka to attend TBC Asia, the first ever travel blogging conference in Asia. What was even more exciting was being able to arrive four days before the conference and travel around seeing all that we could of this beautiful country in the short time that we had. Easily one of our favorite experiences of our time in Sri Lanka was hiking up to the top of Sigiriya, or Lion Rock, located in the town of Dambulla, in the Central Province.

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We arrive early, maybe before 7am, and the heat was already turning up quickly. Chosen by King Kasyapa (477 – 495 CE) as the location of his capital, the grounds are covered in ancient walls, structures and ponds as the location of his palace was at the base of this magnificent rock structure. Walking towards this massive rock I felt a bit like I was walking through the grounds of Angkor Wat as the vastness of ruins reminded me of the similar layout of the Cambodian temples.

Sri Lanka is one of the greenest countries we have ever visited and while it is also extremely humid for much of the year, it is a small price to pay for the beautiful scenery the wet climate produces. Approaching the first stairs at the base of the rock, we passed one of the funniest signs we have ever seen, a bit intimidating huh? Luckily we kept our cool and didn’t get attacked.

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Approaching the rock itself we started to climb small stone steps leading to the sheer, flat side of the stone. Watch your step, as the stones are often wet and extremely slippery. Word of caution, if you are afraid of heights, have anxiety or are easily scared, think twice about doing this hike as most of the journey is up somewhat rattling metal stairs, bolted directly into the stone face. You will no doubt be fine and will feel like Indian Jones the whole way, but just know its a bit of a thrill.

About half way up the rock face there is a small cave which is still filled with some of the amazing paintings from centuries ago. Take a minute to check out these beautiful frescos, delicately preserved and still just as colorful as when they were painted.

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For those who do not want to go all the way to the summit (but you totally should, the view is amazing!) you can stop about half way up on a plateau where you can see the ancient remnants of the lion massive lion statue which was built into the side of the rock. Only the feet remain, but you get an amazing idea of the insane size this statue must have been.

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Continuing on we started our ascent up the winding walkways, again built into the side of the rock, slowly, as we approached the summit. Once on top we were greeted with a truly magnificent view. The early morning sun had filled the valley below and the glistening mountain tops in the far distance were covered in perfect clouds. The shimmering ponds below reflected the perfect blue morning sky and we sat in awe for a good 30 minutes before beginning our decent down to the base.

The hike down is equally exciting so remember to go slow, take your time and enjoy the view. While we might not either be morning hiker people we would both do this amazing climb over again in a heartbeat – just one more thing that makes Sri Lanka such an amazing destination to visit.

Today Sigiriya is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site and is the single most visited historical site in the entire country.

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.H . jeffjohnsheadshotJeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all. A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh. Together with Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at hello@latitudethirtyfour.com and they’ll respond super fast! 

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Sri Lanka

We love featuring guest post from our travel blogger friends who can highlight parts of the world we aren’t in or haven’t been able to visit yet. This week we are excited to show you 5 things you didn’t know about Sri Lanka, thanks to Brian, half of the great team over at Wandering On. So sit back, relax, and let Brian give you some insight into Sri Lanka, a place we are very excited to visit in the future!

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1. Sri Lanka and India are closer than you think!

Adam’s Bridge is a series of limestone shoals running between India and Sri Lanka and was once passable on foot! Looking out from the remote fishing village of Talaimannar in Sri Lanka you could probably make out the shores of Dhanushkodi in India across the Palk Strait, just thirty kilometers away. Ranging from three to thirty feet deep, these shallow waters are heavily patrolled by each nation to deter any would-be swimmers! Strangely, while they’re so close geographically, these two countries are very different culturally and Sri Lanka certainly isn’t the ‘India by the sea’ which we and many other travelers we met had envisioned.

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2. Tasty Food

Rice and Curry is the Sri Lankan staple but rice and curry doesn’t just mean rice and curry. It means a whole lot of rice, a vegetable curry, a meat curry, a dhal, papadums and sambal (chutney) and what’s more is they’ll keep it coming as long as you keep eating. Roti are another popular snack, a wrapped roti bread stuffed with your choice of filling, a great filler in the middle of the day and something totally different to the cuisine of neighbouring India. Another Sri Lankan favourite is Kottu, a dish you’ll hear before you smell! Cooks rhythmically bang two blunt metal blades against the hot plate as they mix the chopped roti, spices, vegetables and your choice of fish, chicken, egg or beef, like a calling to all travelers and locals alike that dinner’s served!

3. Go North!

By far the best decision we made during our ten weeks in Sri Lanka was to make the trip north to visit Jaffna. With the war only ending in Sri Lanka in 2009, people are worried about how safe it is to visit and let me tell you, it’s as safe as safe can be. Yes, there are ruined buildings, yes, it’s sad see the devastation the war caused and yes, seeing bullet riddled palm trees might not be the palm trees you usually seek out but Jaffna is a must! Up north we met the most genuine people while travelling around Sri Lanka, saw some of the most beautiful temples and learned a lot about the countries very recent history first hand. If you have the opportunity to get there, don’t miss out!

Tea Plantations 5 things you didnt know about sri lanka latitude 344. Wildlife and National Parks

Sri Lanka is home to a staggering twenty-two national parks, that’s quite a lot for such a small country! These parks can be expensive to visit, especially for backpackers on a budget and the great thing about Sri Lanka is you don’t need to visit the parks to experience the wildlife. Everywhere you look in Sri Lanka there’s wildlife, it’s like the country is one huge National Park, if you keep your eyes peeled you’ll see beautiful turtles, tropical fish, birds, monitor lizards, snakes, deer, squirrels, strange insects and even elephants, without paying a penny!

5. Top Tea Producer

Sri Lanka is the world’s third largest producer of tea behind the two huge nations of China and India. Throughout Sri Lanka’s central Hill Country there are great opportunities to visit tea factories and tea museums, making for an interesting afternoon. However, just traveling through this area on the train, passing through the green blanket of tea plantations that cover the rolling hills, watching the locals hand pick the tea is a true Sri Lankan Experience.

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wonderingon_authorBrian Barry is a travel writer, photographer, blogger and self-confessed travel addict. Together with his girlfriend Noelle Kelly, they run WanderingOn.com, designed to help and inspire you to get out there and see all the world has to offer. They share their travel stories, experiences and adventures through photos and videos, as well as travel tips and advice on travel as a lifestyle. Keep up to date with them on Facebook and Twitter.

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