After our quick stop in Europe we continued our long trip in Sri Lanka with the main objective of kitesurfing. We dedicated 3 weeks to that place hoping to master our skills, however, due to the poor weather and lagoon conditions we had to change our plans and explore the country instead.
TL;DR: If you consider visiting Sri Lanka as a tourist make sure you are prepared for some infrastructure and culture challenges, it's not the best country for the beginner travelers. Also, if you consider going there for kitesurfing I encourage you to do a proper research and talk to people who've been there.
We flew to Colombo from Budapest on a wonderful Emirates flight and the first interesting thing that met us at the airport was this long hall of shops selling washing machines. Perhaps for those cases when you forgot some souvenirs for your relatives :)
We knew that we were going to an undeveloped country and it was a thought through choice given the fact that we were interested in kitesurfing only. We traveled to other poor countries and were prepared for simple conditions. We had an arranged car to meet us at the airport and drive to Kalpitiya. Even if it is not a long distance it took us 4 hours to get to our hotel because of the roads condition and crazy driving.
On the pictures below is our simple cabana in Kalpitiya. It is very basic but it was good enough for us. There was no hot water but it's common even for more expensive hotels in that area.
While we drove to the area we didn't see anything interesting around so we decided to walk to the city to find some fruits and water. This was the moment when we realized that there is absolutely nothing to do in the area. Close to our hotel there was only one restaurant with simple food. It's a very poor city with lots of stray dogs, donkeys, and cows roaming the streets and leaving their marks everywhere. Also, Sri Lanka is very dirty, there are piles of trash everywhere on the streets and nobody is taking care of that. Also, as we mentioned, Sri Lanka is still struggling with the organization of proper waste management infrastructure, locals complain that trash is picked up only once a month. This is how the main street looks like:
Kalpitiya still has a lot of development to do to have a competitive environment for international kitesurfers. Unfortunately, during our visit the winds were very gusty and there was no wind at all during the full moon period. Locals say that the wind is more stable in winter as it blows in a different direction. It is advertised as a paradise in summer, however, out of 3 weeks we kitesurfed only 3 days. Also, you need to have a scooter or ask for a tuk-tuk taxi to get to the lagoon. More expensive hotels will get you to the launch site on their boats.
As an alternative, local people organize kitesurfing trips to Vella Island (20-40 EUR per person). Local fisherman boat will take you to the island in 40-60 min and will be your rescue boat during the day. The winds were much better on the island, however, it's an offshore wind area. This island is also very dirty and a home for stray dogs. The island itself has 10 km long shore with nothing but fishermen and kitesurfers.
After several days the wind disappeared completely and we decided to explore the country trying to experience local culture and try famous Ceylon teas. After some research and speaking to locals, we decided to visit Kandy, Ella, and Dambulla and to make it more adventurous decided to use local buses. They are very cheap but very dirty and super crowded most of the times (people hanging from the doors and not letting you out of the bus when you need to get off). This is how local buses look like when not crowded: