Sri Lanka lies in the Indian Ocean a short flight from India.  The main export is tea.  But Sri Lanka is more than just tea.  Sri Lanka is Bali 50 years ago…. But with far more archaeological importance than you could ever imagine!

UNESCO Heritage Sites

Sri Lanka is home to eight UNESCO World Heritage sites and it houses more archaeological wonders than most tourists ever expect.  It is a small country where both Hinduism and Islam have both had a huge influence.  There are mosques and temple complexes found everywhere throughout the country, however it is Buddhism that really underpins the Sri Lankan Culture.


No journey to Sri Lanka would be complete without a trip to the 1600 year old Sigiriya Citadel Rock, a 200 metres high mountain of rock standing large and tall over the plains of Dambulla.  The summit can be reached by visitors by climbing 1200 steep, well-worn steps and twisting ladders to the first plateau where we catch our first real ‘breath-taking’ view of the surrounding countryside.  It is amazing.  Those with some strength left, it is up another 200 steps or so to the summit and the ancient citadel and elaborate Buddhist city of Alakamanda,  and home of a former royal palace, dating back to the 10th Century.  There are only ruins remaining but use your imagination to picture the magnificent structure, some 7 stories high, housing some 1000 chambers and inhabited by the Kings family, servants and palace aides.

Simple Sri Lanka

The climb to the summit is not for the fainthearted but it is worth every ‘out of breathe’ step.  You pass murals and frescoes of nymphs and Buddha statues of Gal Vihara and the ancient relic shrine of Hatadage.  #One wall is so highly polished, yes even after all these centuries, that it still reflects sunlight to light up a frescoes you would otherwise not see.

The trip down Sigiriya is quicker but the views and artifacts you pass by are just as fascinating.


Sri Lanka is a tropical Island with two main climate zones.  There is a wet zone, covering the south-east quarter and a dry zone covering the rest of the country.  The island contains no natural lakes except a few small flood plain lakes but has hundred of man made reservoirs.  The earliest of these built over 2500 years ago, the more recent… 800 years ago.  How forward thinking were the Sri Lankan people.  They still today have no issues with water.  The irrigation canals and drains to move water from the mountains to the plains pre-date Christ and most were built in 6 to 3 BC!   Just imagine that…. Triangular drainage canals, that still work to this day, built BC.

During  the period 1984 to 1986 three lakes were built, mainly for hydroelectric purposes.  These were Lakes Kotmalé, Victoria and Randenigala and were built by impounding the River Mahaweli and were deliberately constructed at different elevations.  The water is collected and then moved to where it is needed for farming purposes (and to generate electricity) via drainage canals similar to those constructed centuries earlier.    It is amazing system and the Gardens below Sigiriya shows them canals and drainage systems in operation.


The people are friendly and welcoming.  The food delightful, nothing like Indian which was a surprise.   You will see kids playing cricket everywhere, fishermen on poles and bargaining in the markets.  It is vibrant, colorful and your senses will be overpowered by the smells and sights.  It is delightful!  Amazingly, not too crowded, which was a surprise.

When people told me that Sri Lanka was how Bali was, before tourists, I was skeptical… but they are right.  You move back in time in a good way, when you visit Sri Lanka.

No matter where you go in Sri Lanka you will constantly be reminded, there is way more than ‘tea’  to see here.

Is Bali the World’s Bogan Capital?

There is an unfortunate joke around the world, that when you arrive in Bali it is okay to lower your normal standards, act inappropriately, in fact, just join ‘everyone’ else and become a bogan!  What is a bogan, I hear you ask…  Well acting like a bogan is being ‘unsophisticated, acting as having low social status, or being offensive’ in public or to those around you.

It is a stereotype that Australians seem to be labelled with, but is it justified?

I have travelled to many countries and different places seem to attract ‘labels’ for nationalities.  I am not sure why! However, although in some places of Bali, like Kuta, there is a ‘party’ atmostphere;  in other areas a ‘surf and beach’ culture, overall I find Bali and the typical tourist similar to any island beach resort.   Yes, of course, there are those who drink to much and leave their manners at home!  Then there are those who are still living in the 70’s and look like they have lost touch with reality.. but they are fun to talk and listen to.  There are tourists who are rude and dis-respectful.  But we all have these people in the towns and cities where we live.

Here are some hints and tips on how to create a new and positive stereotype for Tourists in Bali!

Explore More.

Your Vibe attracts like minded people.  One of the best ways to really enjoy Balinese Culture and your trip is to avoid the tourist traps of Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and Canggu and get out and see the real Bali.    North and West Bali have sensational sights to see, its almost a different culture. Climb the Volcano at dawn; visit a temple; eat some street food, and of course, sample the local beer.  Remember to try the boutique beers flavored with local fruits, herbs, spices and vegetables.  There’s lots to do, eat and taste!

Travel Responsibly

Be conscious of what you are “leaving behind”.   Take a reusable water bottle with you.  Don’t drop your litter or plastic bottles ‘anywhere’ but a rubbish bin.  Volunteer to help anywhere you see an opportunity.   Life Change Retreats has a “Pack with a Purpose” motto and we pack and donate school supplies to local schools near the resorts we stay in.  You can do the same.  Every kid like new pencils, books etc…. they don’t take up much space.  Pack a few things to give away while you travel around.

Dress Appropriately

The Balinese dress more conservatively than we do, so dress like you are on holiday, but think ‘culture’ before you step outside… looking half-dressed to the local people.   If you are on a motorbike (you shouldn’t be – your travel  insurance doesn’t cover you unless you have a licence) realise that your sarong will blow in the wind and you will be exposed to sun and people.  Also, be aware of the sun, use protection – a hat or sunblock.  Keep your shirt on everywhere except on the beach.  Respect the culture!

If You Ride a Scooter…

Be careful and aware.  Know that Australian Travel Insurance does not Cover you unless you have a current Australian Motorcycle Licence (Check your policy) Wear a Helmet.  Avoid getting burnt by the Sun or the exhaust when stepping off the bike.  Don’t be tempted to drink and ride or do dumb stuff you wouldn’t do at home.  Always, put your gear under the seat, so you do not suffer a ‘drive by’ robbery.    When you are riding around,  remember, road rage has no place anywhere.  It will be frustrating, remember you are on holiday… you have plenty of time.

Have fun!

Bali is a fantastic place to visit, to explore and to let your hair down.  Don’t have fun at the expense of others.  Be respectful.  You will enjoy your memories for years to come more comfortably if you are not secretly ashamed of any of your actions.    Let’s become the new generation of tourists in Bali…