“Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.”

This One is for the Ladies: On Safety in Sri Lanka

When I first embarked on my journey, I was riddled with reservations and self-doubt.  I was worried about being lonely (more than I was worried about being alone, and before I even started thinking about the safety issues that could arise as a solo female traveler).  Now, for the month that I have been here, I have only felt lonely for the handful of times that I was especially homesick.  Besides these rare occasions, I have been lucky enough to often be in good company, and so gradually loneliness fell by the way side.  When I am alone now, I savour it, sit with it, take the time to reflect.

As far as safety concerns go (aside from some of the jarring, lightning-speed transportation) I have always felt safe.  I do make a point of taking my clothing cues from the local women in Sri Lanka – knees and shoulders covered, and nothing overtly tight or revealing.  (However, I am more lenient about this when in tourist-friendly areas.)  I am always in before dark since there is really no night life to speak of in Sri Lanka, with late-night activities mostly occurring within the comfort of home.  Some more tourist-friendly areas cater better to all night partying and clubbing (such as Unawatuna).  For my late nights in ‘Una, I would always head back to my hotel with my group.  I was also lucky enough to have picked a hotel with some modest security and a locked gate – much to my embarrassment when I was stumbling in at the wee hours of the morning! – but I was glad for the security measures.

Yes, boys and men will likely ogle no matter how conservatively you dress.  As a foreigner, I am just someone new, different.  The staring rarely stops at the men anyways – children and women stare just as much, and will even giggle and point (although they’re rarely the ones cat-calling).  Everyone here, especially men, are extremely curious and ask so many questions.  I’ve just grown to accept that I will likely be answering the same questions every day, and being rude won’t stop it, so I just stay brief and I never give details that make me uncomfortable if I can avoid it (i.e. where I’m staying, where I’m going).

I surprised myself in how I’ve fared on my own, and how comfortable and confident I’ve grown, but I truly cannot take all of the credit.  I need to thank all of the wonderful, amazing, and inspiring people that I have met along the way, and that kept me in such great company, especially my fellow “lonely” female travelers.  I know that this trip has been such a dream come true for me largely due to some of the extra fabulous women I’ve gotten to know, so this one is wholeheartedly dedicated to you all.  Istoo-tee!

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