Getting to travel to Sri Lanka for work was pretty awesome, but I can’t deny that conferences are really hard on me. So much socializing, so much self-promotion, and so much thinking on my feet. It is fun, but it’s also so much time being “on.” Add in the fact that this conference was basically a week long trip around Sri Lanka with 40 (truthfully, amazing) other bloggers and by the end my introverted brain was practically screaming at me to go sit in a quiet room somewhere.
So after the TBCAsia conference I jumped at the chance to spend my last few days in Sri Lanka completely alone. JetWing Hotels graciously invited me to visit Hotel J, the company’s first budget hotel, located in the coastal town of Negombo. It sounded exactly like what I needed after a week of early starts, endless conversations and shared sleeping arrangements.
Negombo is a pretty popular tourist spot in Sri Lanka, due to it’s proximity to Katunayake International Airport. The area is actually closer to the airport than Colombo, so it’s a perfect first or last spot for travelers. There’s not a ton to do in the area, and the beach isn’t quite as gorgeous as other places in Sri Lanka, but it’s a chill little town, and a great place to relax by the ocean and decompress.
Unlike some of the other places I visited in Sri Lanka, Negombo was a nice little backpacker hub. It took me a day to regain my sea legs among the many vendors, tuk tuk drivers and restaurant owners vying for my attention, but it came back to me quickly. Along the main street I ate simply cheap meals of seafood fried rice, shopped for excellent ceylon tea and bought tiny little elephants for relatives back home.
Mostly though, I hung out at my hotel. A crisp white building right on the beach, with minimalist décor and colorful accents. Unlike the whirling streets outside, the hotel was peaceful. I spent hours laying on in a recliner on their front lawn, watching the activity on the beach and soaking up some sun. I frequented the hotel restaurant which served interesting Sri Lankan fare and pretty decent nasi goreng. When the rain set in I retreated to my covered balcony where I caught up on emails and sipped ginger beer while listening to the waves crash in the darkness.
And, I was totally alone. Not everyone likes to be alone, but years of on and off solo travel have taught me to relish these moments of total freedom. Sleeping late, reading by the pool, eating ice cream twice a day, all things I will do if left to my own devices.
I didn’t get a chance to backpack around Sri Lanka on my own (although I know several bloggers who did), although I would certainly like to come back one day and take another crack at it. I only had three days between the end of my conference and my flight, not enough time to see much, but just enough time to squeeze in a mini-vacation before heading back to my real life in Seattle.
My last day in Sri Lanka was a stormy one. Just before sunset the skies finally made an effort to clear, so I climbed up to the Hotel J’s rooftop bar to watch the sunset. It was a nice final picture of Sri Lanka. I felt refreshed, ready to go home.
My stay at the Hotel J was sponsored by Jetwing Hotels. My trip to Sri Lanka was sponsored by Cinnamon Hotels and Sri Lanka Airlines. All opinions are my own.