Pastel Skies At Sunrise From Atop Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka

Adam’s Peak is one of the most revered sites in all of Sri Lanka. For Buddhists, it is believed to house the footprint of Buddha himself at the top of the mountain. For Hindus, it is the footprint of Shiva and for Muslims and Christians', that of Adam’s. For those hiking just to catch the unforgettable views at sunrise, let’s say it happens to be the footprint of the guy who created Instagram.

At 2 AM, my phone alarm rang and I groggily prepared for the monstrous hike up to the top. With an intimidating 5,500 stairs to reach the top, it was going to be as much a mental challenge as it was physical. Every flight of stairs led to a corner where you look up to see yet another flight of stairs. On and on, it went like that. Before the sun starts to bask the countryside in its golden rays, you see absolutely nothing except for the steps in front of you.

You have no idea what you are getting yourself into. You have no idea what view you are working towards. Just step after step while you blindly hope that it will all be worth it in the end.

It is.

I shed a few tears once the skies turned into pastel blues and purples as the fiery sun started peeking out from behind the mountains. Life was beautiful at that very moment. Nothing else mattered. It was a reminder of exactly why I traveled, a purpose that had been lost as I got sucked in to the all-too-artificial throes of Bali’s expat culture. Nothing felt genuine while I was there, but this, this was genuine. People from every culture and background offered a friendly smile as we passed each other along the way. The whole world stopped for a few serene moments. All of this indescribable beauty shared with friends and strangers all the same.

When the terrorist attacks rocked Colombo not even two weeks later, I thought of Adam’s Peak, a place deemed so holy by four major religions as well as a major attraction for international travelers. A place where everyone from every background, every age, and every culture struggled and succeeded in unison and in harmony. This is Sri Lanka. And it will always be Sri Lanka to me.