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March 6th 2017
Published: March 6th 2017
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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;
Wave 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).


6th March 2017

Top of the list!
Ah lovely. When are you going? Visiting your 'own' country is always very special. That strange mixture of nostalgia and surprise. I am interested in your reading list too. Sri Lanka is also on our list. When? But then so is Tasmania......
6th March 2017

Re: Top of the list!
We leave tomorrow much excitement! I have very few memories of the place, so it should be very interesting. Hope your travels are going well xx
6th March 2017

At last!
Hey you two...was just pining for another vicarious holiday as the humdrum of suburban family life is, well, humdrum...You guys never fail to deliver! As you may know Benji had a fabulous Sri Lankan family day carer named Renuka and her Sri Lankan version of 'bolognese' sauce smelled so much better than mine ever will. In fact, 'pick up' each day was an amazing sensory experience that triggered great conversation! Look forward to your travel tales once more. Andrew, your song and talent is amazing. Closing my eyes and listening brought forth Bowie/Pink Floyd'ish flashbacks - WoW! Happy travels guys XX
6th March 2017

Re: At last!
Thanks Cinds, you always say the most wonderful things! Ah yes, I remember Joe telling me about Renuka and how he'd called her Renika for a while before she politely corrected him :) Hope you four beautiful people are well xx
6th March 2017

Been waiting for this one
Great to see you both are heading off again, and to a destination that is on our list; but then again most countries on the world are on that list. Shelley's grandfather spent WW2 in "Ceylon", and we have old film footage from the 70's when he returned there with Shelley's grandmother. A bit of a shame that he wasn't much of a camera man but it has given us the desire to visit one day. Bogged down with family dramas and life headaches at the moment so really looking forward to an escape through your words and photos.
6th March 2017

Re: Been waiting for this one
Thanks Shelley and Scott. Wow 70s footage is such a treasure! More of a treasure than the 70s baby photos of myself sporting that oh-so-not-cool bowl cut look :) Been wondering how you have been going...sorry to hear that things are still not settled. Take care xx
6th March 2017

Sri Lanka
Hey, you are back travelling!!Sri Lanka is also on my shortlist and I am thinking to go when I will visit India which is my next big and fascinating travel adventure..I always love to lose myself in Asia, it is something indescribable and one day I would love to settle down somewhere there. All the very best for your travels!!! ciao..
6th March 2017

Re: Sri Lanka
Thanks Marcos. It's been too long between trips for us! Sri Lanka is so close to India, it's a great idea to combine the two countries in one trip. We wanted to do it when we travelled in southern India two years ago, but ran out of time.
6th March 2017

Happy travels!
Bon voyage Ren and Andrew! Have a wonderful trip, and I can't wait to read your blog!
6th March 2017

Re: Happy travels!
Thanks Lori! We are so excited :)
7th March 2017

Can't wait to read about it...
Sri Lanka is on my list for my upcoming funemployment, which will probably happen second half of the year. I'm looking forward to reading about your travels, especially to the central highlands, and to the various sites where Duran Duran filmed their videos!
8th March 2017

Re: Can't wait to read about it...
Haha I know of the cafe where Duran Duran filmed 'Hungry like the wolf', but will have to research the rest! Looking forward to hearing more about your fun employment :)
8th March 2017

Sri Lanka
Very happy to see you on the road and blogging again! :) And what a destination! One that's been sitting on my list for quite a while now... Almost made it there in 2013... and this year as well but had to change plans in the end. I feel the trip there is coming though... might be later than sooner though... Still it will be nice to read about it from your perspectives - maybe it will push forward our plans on going there a bit? Can't wait to see your pictures and read your blogs! Enjoy!
10th March 2017

Re: Sri Lanka
Thanks Anna, it's so good to be travelling again! We are so glad we are finally here, especially after talking about it for so long. Hope the three of you are well xx
8th March 2017

Your short list
Sri Lanka has been on the short list for some time now so I'm thrilled you are finally there. How wonderful. Discovery and re-discovery is afoot. Excellent. My taste buds are ready for another excellent adventure with Ren and Drew. As always we can see this has been researched within an inch of its life.
10th March 2017

Re: Your short list
As you know, our shortlisting process is a very complex beast ;) There was a lot of research as usual, but less pre-booking than usual. The food has been every bit as phenomenal as we had been told it was! :)
5th May 2017

YAY, traveling again!
I've just started to catch up on your blogs this morning. I look forward to reading about Sri Lanka, as we would like to take Ella there to visit the town of... Ella! :) We've already visited the town of Dax in France... but I haven't yet found if there is a town called Deni anywhere in the world :( On another note, I don't know where you look for your books before a trip, but this is a great resource I use for books about different countries: Ella is in Spain with my parents so I'll have a feast of your travel blogs this evening after work! :)
6th May 2017

Re: YAY, traveling again!
Haha I'll keep a look out for a town called 'Deni' for you :D Ella is a cute little town, but it seemed to have more yoga studios and kale smoothies than locals. Thanks heaps for that link on books by country, it's superb and we will definitely use it :)

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