Monday, August 18, 2014

Finding a Destination and Dealing with the Unknown

I've been living for the past four months in Arugam Bay, a popular surf destination in Sri Lanka. Now I feel it's time to hit the road again, but before telling you about all the cool things that I've been doing here let me tell you how it all started.

By the end of this past April, after doing some retreats in Rishikesh, I had to start planning my next destination. As usual not because I wanted to leave India but because I had no choice, my last Indian visa was about to expire.

I wasn't sure where to go next. I thought about finally going to Ubud for the first time.

Ubud is a town in Indonesia very popular among yogis, but the flights from India to Indonesia were about EUR 400 and on top of that I had heard that it was not possible to apply for an Indian visa from Indonesia.

Yeah, that's right, I was still thinking about going back to India then and that's where I plan to be in about two weeks.

While in Rishikesh I met up with Federico and Sarka, two friends that I had met before in Mysore, to share our latest experiences and to talk about our next plans. Federico said that on his last visit to Sri Lanka he learned how to surf in Weligama.

Later on I met another good friend, Julie from France. She had learned how to surf in Costa Rica and shared her experiences and her passion for surfing with me.

A seed started to take root in my mind, "Maybe I can also learn how to surf..." I thought to myself. I actually already had a flight ticket to Colombo, Sri Lanka, that I had to buy six months earlier at the airport in Colombo when going back to India after extending my indian visa.

I usually buy only one way tickets but without an outbound flight out of India the airline in Colombo were not gonna let me board the flight even though the embassy had granted me a visa. Yeah I know, really stupid rule.

I thought I was going to lose that ticket cause I had no idea where I was going to be after six months but now it seemed like it was destiny. Things started to take their own direction, Sri Lanka was meant to be my next destination.

Where should I go? What should I do?

While I was on the plane flying to Sri Lanka I asked myself, "so, where should I go? What should I do?" The surf season in Weligama was over and that was the only place that I had heard about, and nope, I was not carrying with me a guide book for Sri Lanka. I don't even have one for India!

While reading the inflight magazine I found and article about things to do in Sri Lanka. In one of the pictures on the article it was written "Arugam Bay Surfing Season Begins (May - October)." I had never heard about this place before but it seemed that this ad was right there for me. I had found my next destination.

The ad in the inflight magazine

But first I decided to stop by Kandy as I had heard about it so many times and because in the map it was kind of in the middle between Colombo and Arugam Bay.

It was a long journey, 55 hours in total since I left Rishikesh! But at the end I didn't like Kandy, I didn't know what to do there besides walking around the lake and be a real tourist visiting places like the Temple of The Sacred Tooth Relic where Buddha's tooth is kept.

Kandy Lake

The most interesting thing that I saw in Kandy

Somewhere deep inside that gate is Buddha's tooth

Impressive statue but not worth to pay the entrance fee

After two days in Kandy that I needed to recover from the 55 hours journey I decided to make my move to Arugam Bay.

I thought it would be an easy trip but it took 11 hours and three buses! Later on I realized that it was actually easier to go straight from Colombo to Arugam Bay in a night bus that takes about 7 hours. 

Maybe I should have paid better attention to the omens and go straight to Arugam Bay instead.

Becoming afraid of the unknown

As I was in the bus traveling to Arugam Bay I started to feel a bit anxious and nervous. I had never heard about this place before and many questions started to pop up in my mind. "What is waiting for me in Arugam Bay? Will I be able to learn how to surf? What kind of people will I meet? Will I be able to make good friends?"

Most of the last four years I've been in India and Nepal meeting people on similar paths but I knew that Arugam Bay would be a different story. "Would I be able to fit in?" I wondered.

I also wanted to find a place to teach yoga, that was actually the main intention that I had when leaving India but I had no idea if I was going to be able to find a place to teach in Arugam Bay or if that was going to work out at all.

It was all a mystery, exciting but at the same time very intimidating. During the whole journey to Arugam Bay I tried to fill myself with positive thoughts and with pictures of a wonderful experience but there was still a bit of fear in my mind.

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Related posts: Sri Lanka Travel Tips: From India to Sri Lanka and Back


  1. Sometimes unknown destinations give us the right kind of pleasure and excitement that we are searching for. It also gives us some important life lessons. Not all people are traveling to enjoy; some people are there who are traveling so that they could face some new situations, new challenges and finally learn something from them. Especially, the solo traveling is the best thing a traveler could do in its life time; it will make you stronger from within. Anyways, thanks for sharing your experience. It was lovely reading!

    1. Thanks to you Ronit for sharing your own perspective and for taking the time to read my blog :-)