… Prepared by Dr Robyn Dawson TMA Member Burnie, Tasmania
Here I am sitting poolside somewhere between overheated and hot just from the exertion of walking from the hotel room up through the reception and dining room of this magic old English colonial hotel with a romantic story to keep you on the edge of your seat. I will have to leave you there for another time.
As I look across the inviting pool of Mt Lavinia Hotel to the rolling surf where the Arabian sea meets the Indian Ocean, to the skyline of a bustling city, I give away my location as being in Sri Lanka. With almost three weeks behind me in this land of contrasts I am reluctantly packing to catch the early morning flight to Singapore.
Ones first impressions are that at least 2 things are missing here …
- Seagulls which are replaced by a plethora of noisy black ravens, even on the beach, and
- Road rules. One sees many and varied modes of transport with “L” plates. I am not sure what they are learning except survival. You can do anything if you have a horn!
We started and ended our time in five star luxury that thrills the wallet, but spent 15 days on an Intrepid tour that covered all the major historic places. These included Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Kandy, Colombo and Dambulla, each with their fascinating mix of ancient kingdoms, Portuguese, Dutch and English influence. Most of the lodgings were 2 star but clean and acceptable. Cheap tasty meals made up for reduced aesthetics and lack of fluffy white towels.
Just when almost “Templed” out our guide took us trekking through beautiful cool mountain tracks to the tea plantations and cascading waterfalls to stay in an original Managers Bungalow. We were entertained by our guides with local music (one of those special moments in the life of a traveller).
We visited spice gardens; saw a turtle rehabilitation centre; climbed 200m to a citadel in Sigariya; and then spent 2 days at a beach in pounding surf. We learnt to eat without knife and fork and not to roll our eyes when rice and curry where being suggested yet again. I wonder if my new found skill will go down well at home.
Another special occasion was when our guide, and now friend Bruno, took us to a family friend’s home and we all helped to cook a lively meal and learn the differences in curries, and how to make coconut cream and milk. His wife also joined in – we were family now.
Considering some of the off beat places we ate at and the prevalence of many stray mangy dogs and monkeys we were grateful for good advice from our travel doctor before our departure.
So now the thoughts of home and work are fast becoming a reality, we say goodbye. There is still much to explore here and while peace prevails here we promise to return.