By Venessa Anthony

Living in the central part of the country surrounded by greenery all her life, inspired Senuri Jayasinghe to follow her heart and explore the wonders that Sri Lanka has to offer. Currently sitting for her law degree, she is also engaged in various social work, and is employed as a social media marketer.

Brunch had a chat with Senuri to learn more about travelling solo and what our country has to offer. Here’s what she had to say.

How did you discover your passion for travel?

I was born and brought up for most of my life in Nuwara Eliya, so I grew up surrounded by nature and I loved it. I love walking around, discovering various new places and spots – the sounds of nature also calm me a lot.

During my childhood, my family and I travelled a lot; even if it was somewhere close to our home, we loved exploring and discovering small things – even if it was a new kind of fish in a river that we haven’t seen before.

Back in 2020, we opened up a homestay for foreign travellers; we’ve hosted people from over 80 countries so far, and associating and mingling with them opened up my mind to how important travel and other cultures are. I really enjoyed learning about their culture, religions, beliefs, food, and sharing travel experiences with them.

What inspired you to start a travel blog and how has the journey been so far?

I have always enjoyed photographing nature; back when I was 12 or 13, I would take pictures from various angles (not that I’m a professional!) and upon showing some of these pictures to my friends, they recommended I start a blog as I had more than enough content to write stories about.

From there on, I decided to give it a shot, and opened my Instagram page in 2019.

It has been an amazing journey so far as I’ve had the pleasure to meet some beautiful souls – not just in Sri Lanka – but from all around the world, which gave me opportunities to learn about other cultures and taught me to admire the beauty of everything around me. Even if I see a tree, it inspires a story!

What is your most memorable travel experience?

Every single place I’ve travelled to is a memorable experience; they have all been beautiful in their own way but I’ve always held waterfalls close to my heart.

Back in the days, I travelled to Jaffna a lot and it opened up my mind because exploring their culture, beliefs, and cuisine was a highlight of my travel stories. I plan to travel there again so I can see what has changed over the years. We had the chance to explore with the locals as we stayed at a homestay, so we had the opportunity to observe their lifestyle organically.

Since I come from a colder climate, the climate change in Jaffna was a new experience in itself – a change from 7°C to 35°C – so Jaffna was definitely memorable.

Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?

My first visit outside Sri Lanka – South Korea.

It was a completely different experience from how I’d imagined it. Having lived both in the city and in the rural areas, they were both vastly different but I fell in love with the food, the people, K-pop, and their hospitality. It was an eye opening experience because it was so different from what I pictured it to be.

I travelled there alone, so finding new friends, mingling with the locals, and making new memories in a whole different country was a magical experience for me.

What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?

I generally post a travel-related picture and a description about the place, so the post itself may not be what thrives, rather the picture depending on how it’s taken.

My very first post is still steadily growing and gaining traction on Instagram; sometimes it’s about how a picture is portrayed to another person.

What are the biggest challenges you faced when you started out your travel blog? Anything that you would’ve done differently today?

When I started travelling, one main problem I had to face was limitations caused by all the societal perceptions, since I’m a girl and I tend to travel solo.

I was always asked questions, sometimes even unnecessary and uncomfortable ones, even people around me would lecture me on how it’s not safe for me to travel. This was especially a problem when I travelled at night, or when I was hiking through forests; I had to ensure I went with the right people because not all my friends have the same interests, so I had to find strangers who I could trust.

I was lucky to have had my parents support what I loved and because of that, I was able to be safe and pursue my passions.

What are your travel plans for the rest of the year and are there any bucket list destinations you will be ticking off?

We, as travellers, always have a long bucket list. I hope to visit more waterfalls and go on more hikes. Before the year ends, I hope to explore down south more and visit the north as well.

In the future, I hope to focus more on budget travelling, not just for myself, but to inspire youth to travel more with minimal cost. There is a misconception that travel costs a lot and one needs to save for months, but that’s not entirely true and I want to show them the endless possibilities. I also want to visit the new Greek-themed hotel in Matara and indulge in some camping at the beach.

Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?

The main thing I want to highlight is that all travellers should be mindful of the environment. All travellers should ensure not to litter and take back all their garbage or dispose of it properly without throwing it around nature. Everywhere I go, I see plastic bags, cans, and other plastic products which shouldn’t be there.

Another thing is to respect all cultures; we are a multicultural country, so we should learn to respect other beliefs and cultures, no matter where they are from.

Don’t just travel for the sake of it, or because others are doing it; find a reason for travel that you’re passionate about and enjoy everything our gem of a country has to offer.

See Original Article at The Morning