As I just said on my Facebook page, words cannot express how much we love Sri Lanka.
Seriously! It’s like stepping into comfy slippers. So good to be back.
The four of us have been sick with terrrible Malaysian flu for over a week now. Really ill, high fevers, sweats, shakes, chills, headaches and an awful lot of nasty chesty coughing. Enough to put me in a foul mood, usually, but even feeling like death hasn’t stopped me loving Sri Lanka to bits.
So Why Go To Sri Lanka? What’s So Great About It?
It started on the plane, we flew Air Lanka.
The cabin crew who greeted us were beautiful smiling ladies in peacock saris proudly displaying luscious, brown, rounded midriffs. You’ve got to love a nation that doesn’t need to hide it if they’re not super model thin. Sri Lankan women are spectacularly gorgeous, all glossy black wavy hair, tropical colours and lovely smiles furnished with amazing white teeth. ( Chef totally concurs with me on this!).
It doesn’t stop when you get off the plane. Wherever we go we are greeted by genuine, warm smiles, of greeting, of sisterhood or of curiosity. Even the guys do it. After 4 hours on a local bus, with flu, I got off with a song in my heart and just one thought.
” These people are fantastic!!”
I have never seen such concern for strangers. Every time someone less able to stand boarded our bus, chairs would be shuffled. There was a hierarchy of seat-needyness. The elderly were immediately offered seats, so were mothers with babies or children, so were older, and then younger, women. It was a joy to see. If the young woman preferred to stand then a seated gentleman would take her bags on his lap. Total trust, nobody was worrying about theft at all. Call me old fashioned, but it was wonderful to see.
Manners aside, the buses themselves are a joy. Glittering lights and music turn every bus ride into a special occasion. No blaring techno or horrible elevator music, just lovely Sri Lankan tunes played at just the right volume to be enjoyable, even to us. Maybe the Sri Lankans are sick to death of the same tunes every day on their way to work, but we think it’s cool.
The bus drivers and conductors are friendly and helpful. I’ve seen both do their share of cooing over cute babies, and even over my two boys, who sometimes stretch the definition of cute a little.
They don’t try to rip us off, they take the correct money and tell us when to get off. Sometimes they will go out of their way to drop us exactly where we need to be dropped.
And they smell good! Is that a weird thing to say? On the whole, I love a nation of soap users, in the mornings you can detect a distinct fragrance of soap on the air. There’s not many places you can say that.
Don’t get me wrong, there are sharks and touts about. We ran into a few today in Galle trying to sell us spices and gem stones, but it was so easy to extricate ourselves from their grip that it was no trouble at all.
It’s Not Just The People!
The natural environment is spectacular. Huge powerful waves pound the pristine shore. Dense rain forests appear just a few meters back from the coast road and there are the cool hill country tea plantations waiting for us to explore.
The wildlife is incredible , so much diversity! Leopards, elephants, ginormous monitor lizards, marine turtles, even blue whales. It’s all here! We’ll be trying our best to spot them all in the next few days.( we saw a blue whale! click here)
Sri Lanka is the only place I have ever seen a wild sea turtle laying her eggs on the shore. It was magical.
You have the co-existence of Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and Buddhist faiths, the historic buildings, temples, forts and markets. Sri Lanka is immensely rich in history and culture.
Then stop and consider the recent past. A war ( 80-100, 000 deaths ) and a tsunami ( over 30,000 deaths) devastated this country in my living memory and still, these people are the friendliest and most welcoming that I can think of. I’ve travelled so wide and so far, and I really think that this is a good as it gets.
( You can read about Sri Lankan history, the war and political situation, very briefly here).
Stay tuned, see if anything can pop my bubble. Will I be able to maintain this level of absolute joy at being here for the whole month, I do hope so!
Want to read more about Sri Lanka?
Here you can read about how we saw a blue whale on our first ever whale watching trip out of Sri Lanka. Or you can click here to read why I think Mirissa, Sri Lanka is Paradise.
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Thursday 23rd of April 2020
Thank you very much for all your love for my country and particularly it's people and GALLE.My home town.
From Rajith / Surgeon from Galle
Alyson for World Travel Family
Thursday 23rd of April 2020
Thanks Rajith. Hopefully Sri Lanka will be able to open for tourism again soon.
Sunday 30th of October 2016
Great website and blog. Any recommendations for family (with 3 kids, 7,10 & 11) travelling at Christmas ? We're trying to find somewhere (hotel/guesthouse) that might have a Christmas party etc. Thanks,
Monday 31st of October 2016
Most of the bigger hotels will have something special on for Christmas Gavin. I've done it in Goa but never Sri Lanka. Mirissa is our favourite spot on the coast, the kids always ask to go back there, they love the waves and being able to play on the beach in the evening while grown ups eat and drink. Nice feel to that place. But it will be busy, you'd better book.
Sunday 24th of January 2016
Unfortunately this page seems to have become a platform for racist hate speech. We were contacted by police yesterday, they suggested we remove the comments. So, reluctantly, we have. We encourage free speech, but this time, our hands are tied. Peace. We love Sri Lanka and most Sri Lankan people we meet are extremely charming. I grew up with a Sri Lankan family, their children were like brothers to us, their mother cared for us, our mother cared for them so it's very sad to read these comments.
Wednesday 1st of August 2018
Alyson, internet based hate speech against Sri Lanka is a well organised system. You will see it in action when ever Sri Lanka is given a positive take in an international platform. It is what we have inherited from the 30 year war in which international lobbying played a big role. Don't let it colour your view of normal everyday Sri Lanka.
Come again - or as we say in parting in Sri Lanka , "'gihin enna!" - go but come come back!
Saturday 10th of October 2015
My husband and I plan going to Sri Lanka at the end of Nov for 4 days. We are indians who have been in the US for over 30 yrs. We want to really enjoy and live in nice hotels and clean places. We love history so want to go Ramayan specific places. Thx
Elizabeth (Wander Mum)
Wednesday 2nd of September 2015
I can't wait to go! Thanks for sharing your passion for the country and its people x