18 December, 2016

Guide to travel to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is not so well known in many ways. Many people do not know about its culture, beauty, and fantastic option for travel, sight seeing and unwinding. I wonder why Indian people rave so much about Goa. Sri Lanka offers something that no Indian destination does. It is rated as one of the best destination in South East Asia. It has heritage, culture, nature, wild life, beaches, architecture, everything. It is one small country which has coastal region, rain forest, tea estates and world heritage properties. It is lush green. The only other place, where I have seen this kind of widespread greenery is in Switzerland. Sri Lanka has vast spans of greenery and hence pure air that I could breathe after coming out of gas chamber like Delhi. It is extremely clean and very peaceful. In fact, it is a great destination to come to for unwinding.
British ruled the country for many years. Hence, they speak English but they also have influence of Asian culture. The majority of population is Buddhist. But they also have Hindus, Christians and some Muslims.
Many households have Buddhist statues where they start their day with morning prayers by burning candles, incense and offering flowers to Buddha. Every full moon day is a holiday for them and they have special celebrations then. Their biggest festival is in the month of May when they celebrate birth and enlightenment of Buddha.
They do not have extreme and harsh weather. Throughout they have mild weather.
It is considered as “developing country” but I was astonished to see how well developed it is. Their highway was fantastic and one of the best I have seen.
It is a small country with hard working people. The population of the country is only 20 million. Certain parts are really rich with lot of natural resources- gems, carvings on wood, etc.
It is extremely safe for women. In fact, they respect women a lot.
There is lot of tourists and hence lots of hotels that are generally full during their peak season.
Due to their weather, they have so much flora and fauna. They have certain variety of orchids that are not available anywhere else in the world. Their tea is world famous. Everyone knows about Ceylon tea. The also grow black tea, green tea, herbal tea. The locals prefer tea and not coffee. They are also known for their spices- cinnamon, etc. They also have gorgeous natural silk. Another thing, everyone buys from here is dinner sets from Noritake. For some reason, they are very cheap here and yes they are original.
The crime rate is really low. As I mentioned earlier, it is a very safe country. There are very rare instances of pick pocketing, theft, road rage, etc.
The mother tongue of people of Sri Lanka is Sinhalese. The second popular language here is Tamil and then also English. Everyone knows English. The words of Sinhalese are so similar to Hindi e.g. paani (for water) and many more.
Many people are in business of import and export.
The tax % is very high here. I noticed at the airport, many shops selling washing machines, refrigerators, etc. I was intrigued. Who would buy these at the airport? I was told many women of Sri Lanka go to Middle East to work. When they return with cash, they buy these from airport duty free shops for their homes. Because in these they get the things for half the price.
Auto Rickshaws, buses for public transport, etc. are all imported here from India.
It takes only 4 hours on a direct flight from New Delhi. The ticket prices are so cheap. Everyday there are lots of direct flights coming from India. There is lot of nightlife in Colombo. There are ample number of clubs and pubs. The shops remain open from 9am -9pm.
There is big variety of choice of food available here- Indian, Thai, Chinese, Italian, Mexican- you name it and you have it. In fact, the middle part is famous for its organic and fresh fruits and vegetables. The coastal area is well known for its seafood.
In 2004, the country had worst natural disaster- Tsunami. 30,000 people died and there was a huge loss of property.
The country had a civil war for many years but now it is all over.
I stayed in the best property in Colombo called Kingsbury. It has a beautiful view of Indian Ocean and a sky lounge on its rooftop with an amazing view. It is considered culinary capital of Sri Lanka.
The hotel has 5 restaurants, 3 lounges; spa, 32 metre long swimming pool, fitness centre and a banquet hall and they were ALL chock-a-block full. There seemed to be lots happening in the hotel. I saw few Bollywood actors, some wedding functions, families who had come to dine. This is an amazing property to be in.

Lot of development and construction going on in Colombo.

View from my room.

The breakfast buffet in the hotel is supposed to be the longest buffet of any hotel. It was really delicious.

Special packaging for water bottles.

It is Christmas time. I love the festivities in the air. Christmas is my favourite festival.

Went for morning walk/jog by the beach amidst clean and fresh air. People in the city are quite fitness freaks. I saw runners, people on bike, groups of Yoga and some even doing Tai Chi.

High Commission of India.

The railway track goes right next to the sea. Must be a nice view for people in the train.

Colombo sightseeing bus.

On the sky deck of the hotel. It has a beautiful view of the city.

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