A snapshot of Sri Lanka

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Grandad
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A snapshot of Sri Lanka

Post by Grandad »

I thought I would follow up my snapshot of North India with a similar brief account of our visit to Sri Lanka in 1997. Sri Lanka, or Ceylon as it was known previously and Serendip long before that, is smaller than the island of Ireland and probably best known as the country from which most of our tea has come. It is true that much of the higher parts of the island are covered by vast tea plantations with their associated tea stations and tea factories. And the name Lipton is still much in evidence throughout the island. The people of Sri Lanka are friendly and most are very dark skinned. About two thirds of the population, approximately 10 million, are Buddhists with the remainder being a mix of Hindu, Muslim, and Christian.

Sri Lanka is a lush, green land with many rivers and waterfalls which carry the monsoon rains from the hills throughout the island. Kings as long ago as the 12th century had the forethought to construct many thousands of ‘tanks’ or reservoirs across the island to conserve the rainfall for the dry season with the result that Sri Lanka is eternally green. History on the island goes back to early BC and there are relics to compare in age with those we see in Egypt.

Apart from the production of tea, there are still rubber plantations, gemstone mines, and a continuing harvest from the sea that all contribute to the islands’ economy. This can only be a snapshot of our experience when we spent seven nights on a tour of the island; this was followed by a week at the coast and we opted to follow that with three nights at Mount Lavinia, the former Governors residence, now an hotel, to the south of Colombo.

I have decided not to make a slide show this time as it didn’t work too well. I will insert pictures in this text but will try to limit those to around a dozen. All I would say is that Sri Lanka is a beautiful island and I would recommend it as a holiday destination.

After our arrival at Colombo we had a journey of around 100 miles to the north east for our first night at The Kandalama Hotel near Dambulla. This hotel is built on the edge of Kandalama tank and constructed into a hillside to completely blend with its surroundings. There is an opportunity to take an elephant ride around the edge of the tank. The infinity pool at the hotel is amazing and it melds perfectly into the vista looking out over the tank. Sigiriya, The Lion Rock, is visible from the hotel and can be seen at the centre of the horizon. That was to be one of the points to visit the next day.
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Polonnaruwa was the capital through the 11th to 13th centuries. It covers an area stretching over several miles and is in a wild and overgrown state. Among relics that have been uncovered is the Gal Vihara, statues of Buddha carved into a rock face.
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Kandy is at the centre of the island in the foothills of the central highlands. The Temple of the Tooth is one of the most sacred Buddhist shrines which houses a gold casket that reputedly contains one of Buddhas teeth. There is a continuous queue of people who purchase floral offerings outside to bring with them before they look through a small door to view the casket. Outside the temple there are temple elephants always ready for visitors to pose for photographs.
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An attraction for visitors to Kandy is The Kandyan Dancers who perform at a small theatre. Very colourful with lavish costumes and on stage musicians.
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Climbing up into the hills to the south of Kandy brings you to tea plantation country. All very green with the hillsides covered with tea bushes as far as the eye can see. The ladies picking tea take just the two small top leaves from each branch and drop them into a basket on their backs. They pick around 14 kilos of leaves for the equivalent of 95pence (£0.95). This was in 1997 but I doubt if it is much more now. These are pictures of the water girl, a picker and a small area being picked.
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They take their basket to the tea station, that may be a mile or two away, where the leaves are weighed and they are paid for their labour.
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We went up to Nuwara Eliya where we stayed in an old tea factory now converted to a hotel with much of the old machinery still in situ. From there we went to a working factory to see the processes of drying, cutting and grading the tea. It is now partially mechanised but there is still a lot of physical handling of the tea.
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Sri Lanka is the land of the elephant. They are used as working animals, ceremonial beasts and some in the tourist trade. With so many elephants there will always be some animals that are unable to perform useful tasks. Back down from the hills we went to the elephant sanctuary at Pinnawela where animals with deformities, blindness, and orphaned are cared for. It really did seem to be a most caring place and there was no thoughts of putting animals down.
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Away from Pinnawela we took an ‘elephant safari’ in the jungle. A really good experience and I was so impressed with the sure footedness of our animal even when she was in water up to her middle. But I have always loved elephants. This is some of our party taking the lead. (There were only 10 in our party)
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One day we hired a car to take us to Galle to the south of the island. We asked our driver, Tissa da Silva, to show us some things that would be of interest to tourists. He was really very nice and took us to see these things, and others, and also helped to barter for good prices for lacework in Galle.
At a small gem mine we saw the miners lowering themselves down in a bucket on a rope. They were mining sapphires and moonstones which were polished and made into jewellery in small workshops near the pit head.
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There are many herbs and spices grown in Sri Lanka. This man is stripping cinnamon bark before it is dried and cut into the familiar lengths.
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This little workshop produces furniture with carved fronts for export. All done with a minimum of mechanisation.
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And this is a couple of stilt fishermen that we saw down the coast towards Galle. It is a traditional way of fishing from the beach.
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And my last picture is of the beach at our resort hotel. Beautiful white sands and very few people.
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This really is just a snapshot. I could have easily posted 200 pictures and written a short story but I hope this snippet will help you to consider a visit to Sri Lanka…..we really enjoyed our holiday on the island.


:gg:

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Re: A SNAPSHOT OF SRI LANKA

Post by Horus »

Another great travelogue from you Grandad and extremely interesting, :up you have certainly done the rounds of India and seen the sights. I bet you and Mrs G spend many happy hours reminiscing about your visits there and looking at your photographs, so thanks for sharing your memories with us all. :clap:
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Re: A SNAPSHOT OF SRI LANKA

Post by Kiya »

Thanks for sharing Grandad, it sounds like a most enjoyable holiday :)
I too would love to do the elephant safari :)
I watched a program a while back of the stilt fishermen, how they do it...beats me! between patience & hours waiting for a catch.

Lovely colourful photos :)

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Re: A SNAPSHOT OF SRI LANKA

Post by Grandad »

Thanks for your comments folks.....just something to pass the time yesterday afternoon.....I didn't have to scan the negs this time, I had done that some time ago. :)
:gg:

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Re: A SNAPSHOT OF SRI LANKA

Post by Ruby Slippers »

Fantastic, Grandad! I'm really, really enjoying these travelogues because I've become a bit of an 'armchair' traveller over the last few years due to one thing and another. Thanks for making an old lady happy folks! :lol:

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Re: A SNAPSHOT OF SRI LANKA

Post by Grandad »

Cheers RS :) Where else would you like to go in your 'Magic Armchair' :) I am sure somebody on here can oblige with a little picture story to take you anywhere you fancy.....How about a West Indies story LLL? I have never been there but am sure I would enjoy a visit.

A bit nearer home, we are doing a city break in Paris in a week or so. I expect most of you have been but we have not and as it is only 2 hours by Eurostar there are no excuses not to go. Will let you know how it goes. :)
:gg:

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Re: A SNAPSHOT OF SRI LANKA

Post by Ruby Slippers »

Has anyone ever been to China - or Russia? I'd love to read a Travelogue on those! :lol:

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Re: A SNAPSHOT OF SRI LANKA

Post by LovelyLadyLux »

Fantastic Grandad! Loved the photos and narrative. Super interesting. I've been asleep at the wheel and for some reason haven't scrolled down far enough to notice this category. Can't wait to read the other travelogues.

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