Things You Will Know If You’ve Ever Backpacked

18th August

Dear Travel Journal,

Sorry for not writing sooner, but I’ve been enjoying myself so much I haven’t found a moment to sit down and put pen to paper. I’ve been in Sri Lanka just one week, backpacking through some of nature’s most beautiful areas, including Kandy and Ella, and I’ve met the most wonderful people.

There’s a French girl who I met on a tour of the terraced rice fields, who has been in the country for a month and knows where all the best food is served. Naturally, we have become close. There’s also a man from Brazil who is taking a break from his studies to work on his photography portfolio – it’s pretty handy having professional shots of yourself at sunset for Instagram! There are loads of global Wi-Fi hotspots out here which makes showing off to everyone back home a little easier.

Meeting people from different cultures and backgrounds, all of whom seem to have a different reason for travelling, is amazing. And I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned the local Sri Lankan people yet! They’re some of the kindest people you will meet, and let me just say this – they certainly know a thing or two about making a good cup of tea.

22nd August

Dear Travel Journal,

The last four days have been a rollercoaster. Firstly, I had to bid farewell to my two favourite travel companions (wanderlust pulls us all in different directions), leaving me to face the unknown alone. Next, I found myself trapped in the worst hostel I’ve ever been to in my life!

It was raining quite hard, and true to typical backpack travel style, I hadn’t actually sorted accommodation for the night. I asked a friendly local (although I now question his friendliness!) where I might find a bed and he pointed me in the direction of a tucked away hostel. I would never have found it without the guidance and truthfully I wish I never had! Dirty floors, smelly loos and unwashed linen is all I’m going to say!

But as luck does, mine turned the very next day. Gathering my things in a hurry, I fled the so-called accommodation. After jumping onto a Wi-Fi hotspot, I did a little online research and booked myself into the best-rated hostel in the area. And how deserving it was of those 4.8 stars! I’m talking ocean views, breakfast in bed and the loveliest staff you can imagine.

That’s the thing with hostels – unless you’ve done your research, you never really know what you’re going to get. It’s all part of the experience, I suppose, but it does make me appreciate hotels a little more!

22nd August

24th August

Dear Travel Journal,

Today has been a real cultural awakening for me. I booked into a guest house last night, quite far off the beaten track, and was welcomed upon arrival by a lovely old lady dressed in beautifully colourful materials. She offered me a hot drink but I was so tired from the day’s adventure and carrying my backpack around that I went straight to bed.

When I woke in the morning and wandered out of my bedroom, I saw two children sitting on the floor, eating breakfast with the mother and the old lady, who turned out to be their grandmother. I suppose we have breakfast with our family just the same in Australia, but there was something quite different about this scene. It was tranquil and lovely in its plainness, and didn’t seem like an inconvenient prelude to a busy day ahead but rather a main social event in itself.

The most heartwarming thing happened next – they asked me to join. So, there I sat, fully immersed in a culture so far removed from my own that the experience was somewhat surreal. I’ll never forget that breakfast – despite the food being decidedly average!

30th August

Dear Travel Journal,

It’s the last day of my backpacking trip and I’m sitting here on the beach as the sun sets before me, reflecting on how little one really needs in life to be happy.

Granted, I have had my iPhone with me all along, and a surprisingly good Wi-Fi connection, but I’ve come to appreciate the simpler things in life while I’ve been here. The combination of flavours in my morning fruit juice. The colourful collection of trousers on sale at the local market. The friends to be made in a hostel, no matter how bad it is.

But while I like to think I have been enjoying a lifestyle of the bare minimum, the truth is I enjoyed fruit juice every morning, have a number of new trousers stuffed into my backpack, and had a pillow under my head each night. But that’s what credit cards are for, right?

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