I’ve always wanted to go to Sri Lanka. When I got a phone call in late September, asking if I could swing a trip October 12th to 21st, I jumped at the opportunity.

This Sunday, I’m back and fresh off a 23-hour flight.

After a 10-day journey at incredible speeds, through Colonial towns, past monkeys and monks, near elephants and cobras, on beaches in rainstorms, in front of Buddhist shrines and behind tea plantations, ascending metal staircases screwed into rock walls, all of it in 101-degree heat … well … I’m exhausted.

I’m going to tell you where to go and what to do in the next post.

Meanwhile, here are the 7 times that Sri Lanka stole my breath with her romance. With her endearing danger. With her wildlife and her wild lands. In her sunrises and her sunsets. With her dreamy, old school tea service and her frenzied, one-track dirt driving conditions. I owe her a debt for an unforgettable week and for reminding me why I became a travel writer.

The world is a big ball of beautiful. Get out there and explore it. Me? I’m going back to bed.

THE SEVEN TIMES I COULD NOT BREATHE IN SRI LANKA

When these monkeys remembered the most important thing in life

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When I made it to the first viewing platform at Lion Rock in Sigiriya, despite my crippling fear of heights, and I remembered what was important in life.

Also known as … not dying by falling off Lion Rock.

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When I met this dancing cobra. Whenever you meet cobras, they steal your breath. Cause … it’s a cobra, dude. Yikes.

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Before anyone thinks I’m a badass, I had a zoom lens on my Nikon. Ahhhh! Cobra! 

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When this monk and the sunset collided at the Golden Temple of Dambulla

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I put my camera down for a few minutes and prayed at Dambulla. Doesn’t always matter if you believe the same things in the same places. Places are holy because they stole someone’s breath with their beauty. It’s important to chat with the Universe in these places.

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Hello, Lizard. This one wasn’t so much breath-stealing as silent stalking to get the shot. It’s not easy to tip-toe in flip flops.

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One of the reasons I’m so jet-lagged is that I woke up before 5:30 am every day of the trip to watch the sunrise. When you are close to the equator, the time between darkness and full light is short. You have a sliver of a window. Pink for a blink. I’m proud of myself for slugging coffee at 4:59 for 8 mornings in a row. I also had some very surreal, breath-stealing solo moments walking through the (potentially cobra-filled) grasses. This was taken at The Water Garden villas in Sigiriya. I almost slipped into that pond.

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One more sunrise for the road, and my favorite of the week. This is the beach at Amanwella Resort, where the trees curl down toward the water and the beaches are unspoiled. They are home to three friendly dogs and the rogue wave that swamped my iPhone. Good thing Sri Lankans are handy with dry rice in a crisis. It still works. I’m home. And I’ll write more later.

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Jenny Adams is a freelance travel writer, author and photographer. She currently contributes to a number of publications, including National Geographic Traveler, Hemispheres, American Way and Imbibe. She's the former Bar Columnist for the Miami Herald, the current Copy Editor at Robb Vices and is also wrestling a half-written novel, set in New Orleans. Jenny's got an knack for getting lost, an addiction to full-fat cream cheese, and a deep and abiding love for every Water Buffalo she's ever seen. Her bookshelf is mainly Tom Robbins, her favorite word is 'visceral,' and you can find out more about her at www.jennyadamsfreelance.com.

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