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.
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 port 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
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 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