Friday, 3 September 2010

Sri Lanka, a terrific spot for wildlife, cuisine and culture

Sri Lanka is once again a terrific spot for those in search of some sub-continental wildlife, cuisine and a welcoming culture with the end to 25 years of conflict and the devastating tsunami, states CNN Go in a report published yesterday (1 Sep).

The writer Carmen Jenner explains that Sri Lanka is now ‘experiencing a resurgence’, and adds ‘nowhere is this more visible than in its capital Colombo and on the road to Galle’.

The airport is a duty-free haven for white goods and demonstrates Sri Lanka’s industrious side, a strength that propels them forward and beyond their hardships, she explains.

The CNN Go writer advises travelers not to be too conscious of looks in the humidity and tells them to ‘throw out that mirror and flop down on a beach instead; Unawatuna Beach in Galle is always a popular choice’.

The writer explains the ancient history of Sri Lanka and outlines several historical locations that tourists could visit.

Sunset over Sri Lanka's Unawatuna Beach

‘Trek to the Cultural Triangle spanning from Kandy (116 kilometers north east from Colombo) to Polonnaruwa (140 kilometers northeast of Kandy) to Anuradhapura (100 kilometers northwest of Polonnaruwa).

There is a round ticket that can be purchased at the town museums or entrances of these sites or at the Colombo Cultural Triangle Office (11 Independence Ave, Colombo, tel. 011 267 9921) or the Cultural Triangle Office in Kandy (Palace St, tel. 222 2661). The World Heritage City and the hill-top capital of the Central Province is Kandy and hosts the Tooth Relic of the Buddha in the Sri Dalada Maligawa, the holiest shrine in the Buddhist world.


Sri Lanka’s ancient capital Anuradhapura reveals Sri Lanka’s former glory with its massive dagobas (domes), the sacred Bo Tree (the world’s oldest recorded surviving tree) and architecture dating back to the third century B.C.’

‘The grand medieval capital of Polonnaruwa showcases the well-preserved ruins of palaces, imposing Buddha sculptures, monastic complexes, and a massive artificial lake called the Sea of Parakama. Sixty-seven kilometers east of Polonnaruwa is the sacred complex of Sigirya, an enormous rock that rises 200 meters with palace ruins on the top and luscious gardens at its foot. Heading 116 kilometers south of Colombo is the fort town of Galle, famous for its Dutch-colonial buildings, artisans, and its tres chic reputation. Unscathed by the tsunami and with continued foreign investment, the fort houses some of the country’s most prized real estate’.

Carmen Jenner also explains the rich flora and fauna in Sri Lanka.

‘Those seeking an interlude with Mother Nature’s creatures have a plethora of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries hosting the illusive leopard. However, there are regular sightings of elephants, monkeys, squirrels and butterflies throughout any journey on the island, and on occasion hedgehogs can be seen walking on leads by their owners. ‘On the road from Colombo to Kandy is the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, which is a breeding ground and orphanage for wild elephants, and plays host to the largest herd of captive elephants in the world.

• Yala National Park, Monaragala, Kataragama
• Kosgoda Turtle Conservation Project, Galle Rd (beachside) just north of Kosgoda, tel: 091 226 4567
• Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage, Rambukkana Rd, Kegalle

Elephants keeping cool at the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage

Read more: From Colombo to Galle: A Sri Lankan travel revival |

Elephants keeping cool at the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage

The writes also says that ‘foodies’ from all over the world are ‘clambering to learn how to reproduce the curries in their own kitchens’ as ‘this land of tea bushes offers a cuisine so fresh and tasty’.

‘Cooking schools demonstrate the difference between Indian and Sri Lankan curries, which have a larger spice base and use subtler cooking methods’.

Carmen explains that the best way to enjoy Sri Lankan dishes is to do away with the utensils and eat it by hand.

‘As quoted by chef Peter Kuruvita of Flying Fish fame in Sydney, “To eat Sri Lankan food with utensils is like making love through a straw.” Learning how to eat with only your right hand is a practiced craft but once mastered, you won't want to go back’, the writer says and lists a range of restaurants and cooking classes that tourists could go to.

The capital Colombo is ‘brimming with culture’, she adds and explains how the city of Colombo can be experienced.

‘Offering plentiful dining options, it’s mandatory to have high tea or a cocktail at sunset at the Galle Face Hotel. Across the road, the Galle Face Green heaves at dusk over the weekends as kites frolic in the breeze. Shopping zealots will notice the mall culture hasn’t caught on -- yet. Department stores, galleries, and gem shops are bountiful and the adventurous shopper will lose themselves in the Pettah Bazaar.’

There are trains between Colombo, Kandy, Anuradhapura and Galle and the planned domestic flight schedule and new highways will reduce some traffic congestion and traveling times, as well as opening up areas that haven’t been available to tourists until very recently, like Jaffna, Trincomalee, and their surrounds, the CNN Go writer states.

Sri Lanka can be visited year round and the monsoon season hits the south from June to October and from December to April in the north. Regardless of the time of year, the weather is hot and steamy, the sun is harsh and never go anywhere without water and sunscreen, the writer advises.

With architects opting for tropical modernism, air conditioners battle with the humidity in rooms that are at one with nature. Those flush with cash will flock to boutique hotels while those on a leaner budget should opt for guest houses, which also usually serve authentic Sri Lankan cuisine, the writer adds.