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Published: March 6th 2017
We build the road and the road builds us... ~ Sri Lankan Proverb
Ayubowan and Vanakkam people!
It’s a well-known fact that the best way to combat the winter blues in Tasmania is to plan a trip. We had just got back from hot and sunny Mexico in June 2016, and we were really struggling with the blast of winter that Tasmania was spewing forth. On one of those cement-grey, soul-suckingly cold and sodden days, we decided that the next country we travelled to would have to be so hot that we’d only need one layer of cotton clothing at any one time! 😊
After marking its time on our travel list for the last 10 years, Sri Lanka had finally burst to the top of the shortlist. We wrestled with our shortlist more than normal this time, being torn between going somewhere ‘brand new’ as we did on our last trip to Mexico, or going somewhere that was somewhat familiar and getting to know it better. Sri Lanka won in the end due to the fact that even though it felt familiar, once we started doing even the most cursory of research we realised how very very little we really knew about the country. And of course the Sri
Lankan food played a rather big part in its favour.
Ren was born in Sri Lanka in the 1970s, but hasn’t lived or visited there since she was a child. So while this is a re-discovery trip of sorts for her, mostly it’s a mission to sort the myth and legend of the country (that migrant families usually carry of their birth countries) from the reality that exists today. For Andrew, Sri Lanka has always held an appeal for its island nature, misty hill country and uncrowded waves; and the affinity he feels to the Sri Lankan food that Ren’s family has introduced him to. However, most importantly for both of us, this is a trip to explore and support a country newly emerging from the aftermath of a savage 25 year civil war.
Sri Lanka is predominantly seen as a sun, sea and beach destination, and while these are major drawcards for us, we are also hoping very much to discover its forested national parks, mountains, ancient agricultural belts, tea plantations, history and modern culture.
Here’s a quick snapshot of Sri Lanka, a small South Asian island in the Indian Ocean. The population is just under
22 million, the capital is Colombo, the currency is the Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR) and the languages spoken are Sinhala, Tamil and English. The majority religion is Buddhism, followed by Hinduism, with small pockets of Christianity and Islam. The racial groups approximately follow the above religious demarcations with Sinhalese, Tamil, Burgher (Eurasian ethnic group) and Muslim (descendants of Arab and Malay traders) communities.
The geography of the country is dominated by the Central Highlands, which give way to southern and northern plains. The climate is predominantly tropical with little seasonal temperature variation (with the exception of cooler temperate highlands), and two complicated tropical monsoon seasons batter the small island at different times – the Yala southwest monsoon and Maha northeast monsoon. We will be traversing most of the island on our trip, which meant we had to carefully pick a month that would provide us with the best possible weather conditions across all areas. However, it is almost guaranteed that we will be hindered by rain at some point on our trip.
Over the last couple of months we’ve been compiling a joint list of all the Sri Lankan dishes we want to try – and it’s a
very long list! Some are dishes we love (albeit the Australian versions of them), while others are dishes we aren’t quite sure about and want to taste the authentic versions before making up our minds.
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Have bag, will travel! 😊
Ren and Andrew Travel viewing for this trip... My Sri Lanka with Peter Kuruvita
(2012); Wildest Islands - Sri Lanka Monsoon Island
(2013). Travel reading on this trip... Lonely Planet Guide Sri Lanka
; Rough Guide Sri Lanka
by Sonali Deraniyagala (Andrew); Ruins
by Rajith Savanadasa (Ren); Island of a Thousand Mirrors
by Nayomi Munaweera (Ren); Tamil Tigress
by Niromi de Soyza (Ren); Serendip: My Sri Lankan Kitchen
by Peter Kuruvita (Ren).
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