Sri Lanka is a country I know very little about or to be truthful….. almost nothing at all. A country we used to call Ceylon during the different colonial times, from Portuguese and Dutch to British Empire and was renamed Sri Lanka in 1972 , Sri Lanka became independent from the British Empire already in 1948. There has been going on a terrible civil war for about 30 years, which ended in 2009. People have suffered enormously but the country has strived to become a much more stable nation and there’s a great sence of that the people in Sri Lanka today are a united people.
There are many different ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, the majority is Sinhalese and the second largest group is the Sri Lankan Tamils.
My story is not about politics, demographics or general issues in a society, but a plain and simple travel story, which will hopefully inspire you to travel to this beautiful island.
My family and I arrived very late at night at the airport with Thai airways from Bangkok, we were very tired so we were happy that I had organised our first 5 days with a travel agent in Colombo, who was overseeing hotels and driving for us. First surprise, the hotel we booked for 2 nights in Colombo turned out to be 1 night, so they put us up first night at this, really…….. not value for the money I’ve already paid for a better hotel….., anyway too tired to argue. The next day we went to the initially booked hotel, where we luckily got an upgrade to a bigger and nicer room, to kind of compensate the disaster of the first night. I never book my trips through travel agents, I usually think it’s better to organise myself, but in the case of Sri Lanka, everyone told me that renting a car with driver much easier than driving yourself and once you’ve booked a car and driver you can just make the agent organise the rest. But I think we learned after this trip that: don’t trust the agent! overall we are very happy with the trip but I will book it differently next time.
Our stay in Colombo was nice but short, changing hotels made us lose quite some time as well, but we had lunch at the Colombo Cricket Club, August was so happy and it was quite nice, very “homey” after that we had our afternoon tea at architect, Geoffrey Bawas former office, turned gallery and restaurant/café. very nice, very pricey…………. extraordinary cakes! A must visit.
Then we had to visit the Cricket shop in Colombo, our first day in Sri Lanka and that was our first thing on the list, entering the shop, a Swedish and two Frenchmen, the Cricket “pros” had a great laugh with us knowing nothing. August tried out his bat, gloves and he got a really great outfit as well, when it came to the “knocking-in” we were beyond lost, so we just called it and said that Augusts coach will probably have all that and be helpful to assist us in the process. We spent all our lasting cash at the shop, to Augusts amusement……….
The day after we left, direction: Kandy, the road there nothing much to see, getting closer to Kandy, the traffic gets bad and you’re leaving the flatlands and heading in to the more “Hilly” parts.
In Kandy we stayed at a small family Hostel, very nice and cosy. The restaurant was located on the 2nd floor outside on a terrace, so the mornings and the evenings were slightly chilly and misty, but absolutely lovely. The calm and cold were refreshing and at the breakfast, watching the monkeys in the surrounding trees were a delight!
We travelled further north from Kandy up to Dambulla, to visit the magnificent “Cave temple” , it’s quite unbelievable how they managed to bring all these Buddha statues up there…….. it’s quite a walk up the mountain and just tiring carrying yourself……
Tea plantations: driving from Kandy to Ella, passing Nuwara Eliya was beautiful, small roads as serpentine up and down the hills, we visited a lovely tea plantation in Gampola, The Store Field, they showed us around in the factory, there’s a mix of old, manual equipment with newer and more modern methods in the making of tea, but some of the old machines been there for almost a century and they still work just fine. The hotel in Ella had a stunning view and a very quirky hotel manager, when things just didn’t work properly he, very kindly, offered a bottle of red wine at sleeping time……… quite a laugh going to bed that night. The day after we headed to the beaches, to Unawatuna, I will tell you more about “The French Lotus” in an up-coming post…