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SMILES AND SPICES IN SRI LANKA

Welcome to the Ocean Front Hotel

Welcome to the Ocean Front Hotel

A man takes my backpack at the Ocean Front Hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka. “I am your butler,” he says. Mare and I look at each other, dumfounded. She has a butler too. They bring beers and fresh fruit to our room.

This is SO good!

This is SO good!

In the evening, they bring us prawn curry with many side dishes. The irony of having a butler lies in the stress it produces. I swear, he constantly appears and scares the crap out of me. I like him, but am trying to hide from him. I don’t think it’s supposed to work that way.

Street food...Rotti

Street food…Rotti

Talk about extremes…from dusty desert in Mongolia, to Sri Lanka during the downpour of monsoon season. The food…from bland, boiled/grilled hunks of meat (Russia and Mongolia), to curry and chili that form beads of sweat on your forehead. Bring on the lentils and prawns and vegetables!

The view from our room -trains and the Indian Ocean

The view from our room -trains and the Indian Ocean

About 22 million people live in this island country of Sri Lanka. Most of them greet you with a smile and extreme friendliness. They have endured a 33-year war that ended just 4 years ago…not to mention a devastating tsunami about 10 years ago. What lies beneath those smiles?

Galle Face Green

Galle Face Green

We can’t wait to escape into the jungles and beaches. First, let’s enjoy Colombo, with waves crashing against the seawall where commuter trains roll along. Friendly people roam in a park full of stands cooking the popular kotthu rotti, which in this case is made with a spicy chopped lentil cake, fried and topped with prawns.

Buddha above Kandy

Buddha above Kandy

At the train station, many people greet us with a smile and want to help. Despite some conflicting information, we successfully hop a train to the mountain town of Kandy, where we find a guesthouse along the Mahaweli River, the longest river in the country.

Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic on Kandy Lake

Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic on Kandy Lake

Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic, a tooth of the Buddha, is enshrined under six golden dagoba’s (caskets) in “The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic” which sits on Kandy Lake. We opt to not visit, as you cannot actually see the tooth. This temple was bombed during the 33-year war, thus the enhanced security.

Kandyan Dancers

Kandyan dancers and drummers

We opt instead to watch the Ragahala Kandyan Dancers & Drummers, with their show of colorful costumes, gymnastic dancing, and fire walking, in celebration and devotion to Lord Buddha.

Fire walkers

Fire walkers

The next morning, while enjoying some Sri Lankan breakfast (lentil curry, string hopper noodles, and chopped coconut chili), we meet Dahn, a freelance driver who agrees to drive us around Sri Lanka. Sort of a butler on wheels. Soon, we hit the twisty mountain road that climbs through tropical jungle towards the east coast beaches.    by Ron Mitchell

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ann Smith #

    The pictures are wonderful. This is a place I have always wanted to go. I would love to just sit in the temple. Thanks for giving me a taste of it. Love your descriptions. Ann

    August 3, 2013
    • Our pleasure, Ann. Many temples, Buddhist, Hindu, and even Mosques. I think we will see much more of this in India.

      August 3, 2013
  2. ma,pa and jackeroo #

    I think this is sooooo interesting..

    August 3, 2013
  3. Oh you just got me curious! Can’t wait to see the next post…mountains and tea! Sigh, turns out my August is going to be much slower workwise than I thought, everything slipping into September, so I could have joined you! Hmmmm. I find Sri Lanka so fascinating, have a former co-worker from there. Bucket list.

    August 3, 2013

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