14 August 2016

Sri Lanka: Land of great tea

We arrived in Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka for a short holiday. The Emirates flight was packed. About 400 passengers.

We thought most of the passengers were Sri Lankan workers returning home from the Gulf states but were surprised to see that they were mostly tourists and many Sri Lankans who have married Europeans. They were coming back home for a visit.

A clean and medium size airport was our starting point, a little bit of chaos at the immigration hall, because many passengers did not know that they had to pay visa fees upon arrival in a separate queue, and others who did not fill in arrival forms and were asked to return and fill them.

The taxis
One of the interesting facts about Sri Lanka is that you won’t find a big difference in exchange rates, taxi and car hire fees from one company to the other, this helps one’s mind to be at ease and stop wondering if one has been overcharged.

Our taxi driver, a young man from Colombo ‘ Itself’ as he called himself, drove us through a beautiful, green and clean highway. I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the standard of cleanliness on the roads.

Colombo is a very commercial city, hence there is not much to see. However, we managed to squeeze in a visit to the national museum of Colombo, where one can examine closely the history and heritage of this island that was colonised by the Portuguese, Dutch and then the British, with the latter leaving their trademark on the roads, hence driving on the left side of the road.

Gangaramaya Temple, another quick stop where we visited the Lord Buddha statue that is made from Jade. We also got to know that this temple is also a learning centre and through it many social projects such as an orphanage is taken care of.

As we kept driving through the busy roads, congested with cars and Tuck Tucks ( local taxis), I was now ready to leave this mayhem and start a journey to the real reason I was here for.

Adventure time
Throughout my childhood, I heard that the tea we drank came from Ceylon. Though the it is now Sri Lanka, the fact remained that I wanted to see this place and find the tea plantations that fed, and are still feeding the world markets with some very fine tea leaves.

It was time to move to the hilly parts of Sri Lanka with a promise of breath-taking views and cool weather. We were heading to Kandy. The driver, as all drivers do, tried to ‘ convince’ our group to make several stops, one included an elephant orphanage, we refused, we said we come from Africa, and we have seen elephants there, with a grin he accepted but he did not ask our opinion at the next stop, a spice garden.

Spice garden
We did not mind to stretch our legs a bit from the long drive. I love spices and their source is always welcome information. The walk in the mini gardens was great, with a well-informed guide who examines the visitors by looking at them and then shows you the exact plants that might suit your needs. The elderly being shown plants that have medicinal power to heal high blood pressure and diabetes.

Of course, the road ended with a shop where the simplest of portions were sold at such an exorbitant price that there was no other option but to leave empty-handed! Next stop: Kandy.



Post a Comment

Theme Support

Popular Posts

Recent Posts

Unordered List

Text Widget

Blog Archive

Powered by Blogger.