Sri Lanka
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[The Country] [Galle] [Hill Country] [Our view]
Next on our cruise, this country, formerly known as Ceylon has had ongoing strife for 15 years, but the government and the Tamil Tigers are now talking, and peace may be breaking out.

 

The Country 

Sri Lanka is a small island near the southern tip of India - very much like India from what we can tell.  Climate was hot  along the coast and very pleasant in the central mountains.  With 18 million people (same as Australia) in an area 1/2 the size of Illinois, it was very densely populated. People are friendly, although we found we had to be wary since we were over-charged whenever the opportunity raised itself.  Check what's below or see our Journal pages for Sri Lanka

Galle - This is the portSri Lanka tuna catch in Galle.jpg (25442 bytes) city that most cruisers choose since it represents a small diversion from the direct route to the Red Sea.  It is a Navy facility, and we had to squeeze by a defensive anti-submarine net, and tolerate dynamite charges set off randomly throughout the night to keep the Tamil Tigers from sabotaging Navy ships - fun it was NOT!  The inner harbor has 2 pontoons and mooring buoys, and yachts wove spider-webs trying to secure ourselves from the surge from ships using the port.  For 4 days, a bulk-carrier up-wind of us unloaded cement by the shovelful, and we collected buckets of it on our decks.  The port is very busy with tune fleets from around the Indian Ocean bringing their catch in daily.

The Hill Country - The middle of the island is mountainous, and any traveler should get away from the hot coast and enjoy the cool hills.  We hired a driver for 4 days and shared the roads with other suicidal maniacs on a drive along the south coast and then turned north to:

  • Nuwara Eliya - This is a quaint town with scenic mountains, souvenir shops, golf courses and resort hotels.  We stayed at The Hill Club, an old English colonial resort with sitting rooms, game trophies, and reading nooks.  It was a delightful break with hot water bottles in our bed at night (we needed them), and obligatory coat and tie for dinner for the gentlemen.  Clothing outlet shops offer seconds from LL Bean, ... and other notable names.

  • Kandy - The largest town in the hill country, Kandy has lots of shops and a few tourist attractions.  For Sri Lankans, the primary attraction is the Temple of the Tooth - a Buddhist temple that is reputed to store, and occasionally display, one of Buddha's teeth .  We patiently waited in the various queues and toured the temple, but only special dignitaries get to glimpse the actual tooth.

  • Kandalama Resort - In Sri Lanka tea plantation.jpg (17136 bytes) the middle of the bush this a 5-star resort offered the best food we have had for months, and beautiful surroundings.  We dragged ourselves in dripping wet and smelly from a long hike in a rain-storm but the staff was not fazed - they greeted us with fresh juice and tolerance.  

  • The Tea Plantations - Sri Lanka (aka Ceylon) is famous for its tea, and the hills are covered with neatly organized plantations.  All offer tours, and we visited one where they patiently explained the process that takes freshly picked leaves, and turns them into tasty Orange Pekoe tea in 18 hours.  

Our Views - We are glad we visited Sri Lanka, and the Hill country was beautiful and the tea plantations a delight.  That said, the country is very dirty and gave us a preview of what India is reputed to be.  The officials were corrupt, overcharging for the privilege of 'serving' us.

After an interesting stay, we set sail again - this time for the Maldives, an archipelago between us and Africa.

 

 

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