A Quick “Teaser” Snapshot of this Magical Country
The flight was long, but comfortable, and a three-hour stop over in Mumbia offered an opportunity to meet my fellow travellers who were on the same press trip to Sri Lanka with me just two weeks ago; a snapshot of the country’s food and people was revealed on the second flight from Mumbai to Colombo with the nation’s national carrier, Sri Lanka Airways, and we all loved what we tasted and saw……plates of spicy sambols, savoury pastries and small vegetable kabobs were served by the sari-clad female cabin crew and we were welcomed on-board with a word I came to hear a lot over the next nine days, “āyubūvan” pronounced as ayu-bowan, meaning welcome and hello, before being shown to our seats……
……today’s post is a teaser snapshot to whet your appetite for what’s to come; the nine-day trip I undertook in the beguiling country of Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) was a “once-in-a-lifetime” unique experience, and it was filled with draw-dropping stunning scenery, tantalising and tasty food, wildlife galore, adventurous experiences on water, road and in the air, luxury hotels, spiritual Buddhist temples and the local people who were warm, friendly and very welcoming made my stay extra memorable. Today I will share my itinerary, and some “postcards” from the trip to get you in the mood. I’ve also posted a classic Sri Lankan recipe for Pol Sambol (coconut sambol) which will be the perfect accompaniment for all the recipes I will be publishing on Lavender and Lovage over the next few months, all originating from this magical tropical island.
Before I share my postcard album and recipe, I’d like to give you a taste of the trip via the itinerary below……..
Sri Lanka Press Trip Itinerary
Day two: Muthurajawela Lagoon Safari; travel to Cinnamon Lodge Hotel in Habarana; Bullock cart ride in Hiriwadunna Gama with lunch in a jungle clay-pot restaurant; boat trip on the lake for a simple cookery demo and snack in a lakeside clay-pot jungle restaurant.
Day six: Trip to the top of Pidurutalagala – the highest point in Sri Lanka; Visit to Pedro Tea Estate and Factory to take part in plucking tea and tasting tea afterwards; lunch at Victoria Park overlooking Lake Gregory; local trip into town of Nuwara Eliya; Nocturnal Frog Watching at Jetwing St Andrews.
Day eight: Early dawn Whale and Dolphin watching boat trip in Mirissa; check into Lantern Boutique Beach Villas; Nocturnal Sea Food BBQ on the Beach with live music.
Snapshot Fact File:
Sri Lanka is an island with rich bio-diversity which is keen to promote eco-tourism via it’s wild-life parks, sanctuaries and centres; formally known as Ceylon, it has a melting pot culture with many different religions and peoples, although Buddhism is the faith that most of the islanders follow. The food is hot and spicy and if you are vegan or vegetarian, you won’t struggle to eat delicious food whilst on holiday here……the main protein is chicken, fish and seafood for non-vegetarian dishes, and the local alcoholic tipple is Arrack, which is added to Ceylon Planter’s Punch – a fruity but dangerously addictive cocktail. Although the country is small, it has the highest bio-diversity density in Asia, probably due to the fact that is an island, with many endemic species of flora and fauna. Sinhalese and Tamil are the two official languages, but, English is used a “link” language in government as well as being widely used in education, tourism and commerce.
As a food AND travel writer, I was keen to explore the country’s cuisine; the national dish is “Rice and Curry” which comprises rice and a selection of curries with sambols, chutney and roti bread. The Sri Lankan spice palette is mainly cinnamon, cardamom, roast and raw curry powder, curry leaves, cloves, nutmeg, chillies, turmeric and ginger, but pandan leaves (called Rampes locally) saffron, vanilla and pepper are also important in the Sri Lankan kitchen. Coconut, lime, pineapple, tamarind, jaggery, jak fruit and dried Maldive fish are also commonly used and I will be sharing many Sri Lankan recipes over the next few months. I hope that today’s “teaser” post will inspire you to come back to read all about my adventures and of course to visit this beguiling and beautiful country, the land of smiles, set in the sparkling azure waters of the Indian Ocean. Karen
Images: All images are my own
Disclaimer: I was the guest of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau; all flights, transfers, food, drink and excursions were included in the media trip I attended. All views and opinions remain my own and I was not paid to publish this article, although I retain the right to publish similar material on a commissioned basis with other print and on-line publications. With thanks to Udara from the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and Sunanda our driver who looked after us so well for the entire trip!
Pol Sambol Recipe:
For any help or advice on travel packages and tours in Sri Lanka, please email me via the contact form above, and I will put you in touch with the relevant tourism officers and/or hotel groups. Karen
Postcards from Sri Lanka Gallery:
My fellow travellers were: