The first time I went to Sri Lanka we toured the island. It was supposed to be a group tour, but there were only a couple travelling with their granddaughter in the bus with us for most of the time. We stayed in Colombo, which featured a lot of colonial buildings and our first sighting (to be followed by many more) of the locals playing cricket on the maidan. Volleyball is the national sport, but cricket is the national obsession. I saw the cricket ground at Galle on a later visit but that’s moving on too fast. Our tour took us to the tea country at an elevation of over 6,000 feet in Nuwara Eliya. We were accommodated in an atmospheric relic of a tea plantation mansion. The tea was described as light in colour and delicate in taste. The mansion was cold and damp.

Kandy

At Kandy we were lucky enough to catch the annual grand Esala Perahera procession - the parading of the Buddha's Tooth. It's kept in a temple in Kandy - one of the most sacred Buddhist relics in existence. They carried it through the streets on the back of an elephant - in a specially decorated howdah.

Classical Rock Buddhas

A whirlwind tour involved the famous rock Buddhas of Sri Lanka, reclining and reposing, the Pidurangala Rock and citadel at Sigiriya, (vertigo got me here), Little Adam's Peak at Ella, and the cultural triangle of the Dambulla caves Mihintale, the old capital at Anuradhapura and Gal Vihara, the most famous Buddha at Polonnaruwa. We finally made it to the beach at Trincolmalee. We weren’t allowed to go any further north because we were near Tamil Tiger country. Out hotel was overbooked and they sent us to a smaller basic place down the road. We learned to eat authentic Sri Lankan curry, with heaps of chilli on the side, mixed with coconut to take away the heat of the chilli. Eventually, we managed to complain our way back into the right hotel.

Ayurevda in Sri Lanka

My second and third trips were to Ayurvedic establishments at Weligama and Beruwela. Each day I ate a vegetarian pitta and vata balancing diet (the curry was still quite hot and some of the vegetables were truly disgusting), had a massage involving orange knickers, wooden trays and a great deal of warm oil, was daubed with brown poultices, lay on a bed with acupuncture needles stuck all over me (an Indian lady jabbed them in and moved onto other prone victims, removing them in rotation) and glugged disgusting, specially brewed draughts of medicine. In-between, I dozed on a sunbed looking down on golden beaches and watching the sun set through thousands of waving palms.

Galle

I sneaked in a trip to Galle, the cricket ground, the fish market and some temples.

Giant Buddha

Another visit, the 39 meter high Buddha statue at the Weherahena Buddhist Temple  near Matara.

The clientele was mostly German - I did a lot of reading too.

Sri Lanka's History Goes Back a Long Way

  • Sri Lanka's documented history spans 3,000 years

Who Colonised Sri Lanka?

  • Sri Lanka was colonised by the British, along with India. It was known from the beginning of British colonial rule (in 1815) until 1972 as Ceylon.
  • Sri Lanka's recent history has been marred by a thirty-year civil war (until 2009) between the Sri Lanka Armed Forces, (on behalf of the Sinhalese majority) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam representing the Tamil minority

Is Sri Lanka a Poor Country?

Levels of extreme poverty run at about 4% of the population, which is low for a developing nation and good when compared with most of Asia.

Sri Lanka - Snippets of Information

  • Sri Lanka means Resplendent Island.
  • Tea is Sri Lanka’s principal export and it is the fourth largest exporter of tea in the world
  • Cinnamon originated from Sri Lanka. Most of the world’s cinnamon still comes from here
  • Thanks to the many waterfalls and rivers over 50% of the power for the country is generated by hydropower
  • Sri Lanka was the first country in the world to democratically elect a woman as the head of government - Simiravo Bandaranaike in 1960

What to See in Sri Lanka?

A New Millennium in Reethi

  • A see-in the new millennium beach break - 120 island resorts to choose from in the Maldives.
  • The flight to the capital, Malé was tedious. It was a very cramped charter plane via Colombo.
  • The seaplane from Malé to Reethi was far more acceptable - great views of the islands and reefs
  • Our island was tiny and could be circumnavigated in less than ten minutes.
  • We had our own strip of powdery white beach - it was peaceful and gorgeous.
  • The house reef was a few hundred yards too many away for comfortable access. The aquamarine lagoon was clear and shallow, so the swim wasn’t too daunting - until I disturbed an octopus who shot out of the water in front of me. My scream woke up every one dozing on their sunbeds. The sights were suitably rewarding when I finally arrived - the coral teemed with tropical fish and turtles. Swimming alongside a turtle is incredibly relaxing, they look so serene.
  • The food wasn’t great –it’s all imported of course. The island is much too small to grow anything.
  • New Year’s Eve brought live music and fireworks, with a flaming sign - Happy Last Second of the Second Millennium’.

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