Imagine a place full of endless tea plantations. A place where you feel like you’re in Tom Waits’ song, “All the world is green,” full of green tea bushes and coconut palms. A place where it’s always spring. A place where tea pickers work hard for a few dollars per day. This place is Sri Lanka, and I have the photos to prove it.
Imagine a place where a smile is all you need. A place where kind words are worth more than material things. A place where people are warm, friendly, and positive.
Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multicultural society with two main ethnic groups — the Sinhalese and Tamils, both originally from the Indian subcontinent. Thirty years of war and a horrible tsunami are behind them, and the Sri Lankan people are the real treasure of the island. Their kindness leaves you speechless. They taught me how to live in the moment — not caring about tomorrow or the past. They taught me how to live my life fully, with love, an open heart, and a willingness to help those in need.
Imagine a place where you can see herds of wild elephants roaming free. Elephant families with adorable babies. Young males playfully establishing who is the most dominant. Don’t visit the elephant orphanages — go see them in the wild where elephants live peacefully with monkeys, leopards, birds, crocodiles, and deer.
Imagine a place full of ancient ruins and archeological wonders. Places of historical and religious significance. Visit Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya and learn more about Sri Lanka’s turbulent history. Places full of monkeys who rule the ruins of ancient kingdoms, always ready to steal your food or sunglasses.
Imagine a place where you can see old Portuguese or Dutch forts in almost every city. Sri Lanka was occupied by several major colonial empires that each was the dominant power in the Indian Ocean at one time. The colonists built Western styled forts, of which the most remarkable is the old Dutch fort in the city of Galle.
Imagine a place full of Buddhist temples. Sri Lanka is one of the world’s oldest Buddhist countries and temples are all over the island. Temples where you can see monks and people praying to Buddha. Temples where you can feel the positive spiritual energy. Don’t miss Dambulla caves, the most well-preserved cave-temples on the island and Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites that houses the sacred tooth of Buddha.
Imagine a place where you can step back in time with a train ride. A place where the train rides are one of the most scenic and beautiful journeys in the world. The trains are old and slow, but that allows you to enjoy the beautiful views of green tea plantations and local villages.
Imagine a place full of breathtaking views. Climb Adam Peak, Little Adam Peak, Ella Rock, World’s End, or Sigiriya and enjoy some of the most spectacular “green” views of your life.
Imagine a place where even the fishermen are extraordinary and unique. The practice of stilt fishing, the traditional method of fishing in Sri Lanka, started during World War II when food shortages and overcrowded fishing spots prompted a few clever men to try fishing on the water. Nowadays “real” fishermen rent their stilts to people who pose as fishermen — actors for the tourists. Making a living off of fishing is hard, so many fishermen find it more profitable to work in the tourism industry.
Imagine a place where life’s a beach. A place where the days are ruled by the sun and moon. Where the ocean is calling for you to jump in. A place where you can spot magnificent whales, pods of playful dolphins, or green sea turtles. A place where you can relax and forget the rest of the world.
Imagine a place with the most delicious cuisines in the world. A place where you don’t count your calories. A place with hundreds of exotic flavours and spices. Rice and curry, hoppers, kottu rotty, lamprais, pittu. Fruits of all kinds of shapes and colors. A place where a coconut can be bigger than a watermelon.
Imagine a place full of unforgettable moments. A beautiful, magnificent place. A place that feels like home. A place you know you’ll visit again.
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