8 Things About Sri Lanka

Prior to the wedding, we definitely raised a couple of eyebrows when we said we were going to Sri Lanka for our honeymoon. I guess it’s not really a conventional holiday destination (much less a honeymoon destination) and understandably so, due to the 25-year Sinhalese-Tamil civil war that just ended in 2009. 25 years is a long time away from tourism, so I suppose people didn’t know much about Sri Lanka apart from all the bad press. But the war had ended, and it was time to rediscover Sri Lanka.

Now that I’ve been there, I’ve come up of a list of 8 things you (may or) may not know about Sri Lanka. They’re mostly my first-time impressions of the country, but I’ve snuck in some facts as well. We were only there for a week and quite honestly haven’t as much as scratched the surface so not all of the below may be accurate — but hey, first impressions count for something right?

  1. Being so close to India, I wondered how similar things were going to be in Sri Lanka. To the untrained eye, the people probably look the same. To the untrained palate, the food probably tastes the same. So where do the differences begin?

    I haven’t been to India but I once had an Indian colleague who told us quite frankly that India still has a long way to go in terms of how women are perceived. I really do want to visit India one day because I love Indian food and culture, and I truly believe that not all Indian men are sex maniacs or male chauvinist pigs, but at the moment I’m finding it hard to get past the sex crimes that’ve recently been making headlines.Well, it turns out that Sri Lanka and India are worlds apart — and even Indians who visit Sri Lanka are attesting to this (read about their accounts here and here). Not just in terms of safety (which I’ll be elaborating about in the next point), but in other aspects as well.

  2. Speaking as a female traveller, Sri Lanka felt safe — or at least the places we went to were. I did not feel at all feel threatened by the men there — not in the major city of Colombo, and not in the small town of Hatton. They did not stare inappropriately, or do anything that made me feel uncomfortable.

  3. Sri Lanka’s population is largely made up of Sinhalese (mostly Buddhist), followed by the Tamils (mostly Hindu), the Moors (Muslims — descendants of Arab traders who settled in Sri Lanka). A sizeable minority of Sinhalese and Tamils are Christian.

    A Sinhalese man stopping to pray to Buddha while passing by the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy.

    A Sinhalese man stopping to pray to Buddha while passing by the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. I loved to see their devotion. No matter where they were going, every time they passed by a statue of Buddha or a place of worship they would stop to pray — even if they were outside the premises — and be on their way.

  4. The places we visited were impressively clean! Of course there is going to be rubbish, but there was little to be seen. No beggars on the streets, either.
    Kandy Lake, Temple of the Tooth, Sri Lanka

    The perimeters of Kandy Lake. No trash to be seen here.

    Sri Lanka

    One of the train stations on the way to Hatton. Some trash on the tracks, but none to be seen at the station!

    Hatton, Dickoya, Sri Lanka

    I think this was in Hatton? The town may seem a bit old, but it was definitely kept clean. Can you spot a man sweeping the streets?

  5. Sri Lankans I had the pleasure of communicating with were mild-mannered, respectful and polite.

  6. There are many national parks in Sri Lanka where you can find leopards, elephants, barking deer, birds, and other wildlife. If Africa’s a tad too far, consider Sri Lanka — it’s touted as one of the best safari destinations outside of Africa.

  7. I was nervously getting ready to having to haggle over tuk-tuk fare in Colombo, but it turns out the tuk-tuks there are metered. Hurray!

  8. I did not see a single person smoking in Sri Lanka, which was FANTASTIC because I have low tolerance for cigarette smoke, and an even lower tolerance for inconsiderate scums (can you tell how much I hate them?) who like to smoke along the pathways and in public areas, without any glimmer of remorse poisoning everyone’s lungs with deadly second-hand smoke.

    Seriously I could write an entire book about how much I hate these people and I don’t care if you’re offended because if you are, it only means one thing: you know you’ve been inconsiderate. Seriously, of what consequence is the bruised ego of one inconsiderate smoker versus the act of putting many others at risk of disease?!

    I especially abhor it when I see parents smoking around their young children.

    Since we can't outlaw tobacco, we should implement this. Hey if you want to harm your own health, harm yours alone!

    Since we can’t outlaw tobacco, we should totally implement this. Hey, if you want to harm your health and stink up your clothes, don’t subject others to it!

    In Sri Lanka smoking and consuming alcohol in public places are punishable by law. I’m not sure what the parameters for ‘public places’ are, but I sure didn’t come across anyone smoking during our entire week-long trip. Great job Sri Lanka! Sorry to end off the list with a bit of angst, but I tend to be very….impassioned about these things.

So there you go. Now you know a wee bit more about Sri Lanka!

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