The Pearl of the Indian Ocean

Sri Lanka (also known as Ceylon) was once upon a time known as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean”. It’s a beautiful island south of India (some of my friends call it the Tasmania of India, made me laugh the first time I heard that! πŸ™‚ Both funny and insulting at the same time! I do love Tassie so it’s hard to be insulted too much). Sri Lanka has a long and interesting history, which I won’t go into here. To read all about the history, from royalty to European rule to internal conflict which has held the country back, head over to WikipediaΒ and Google.

With Christmas Holidays fast approaching (how quickly has the year gone??), it’s time to plan your getaway. Sri Lanka is the perfect place to visit in December, it’s their rainy season so it’s not too hot, and really the rain will disappear 5 minutes after it starts. From beaches to tea plantation to safaris to UNESCO sites to ancient ruins (okay, you can honestly not get all of those in any other country as tiny as Sri Lanka) it is truly the one stop place for any experience you can think of (even for action junkies with white water rafting available). And of course there is the wildlife that will happily ignore you and wander around wherever and whenever.

Let’s talk about the food here. Well, if you love spicy food, Sri Lanka is the place to be. And if you love fusion food, again you have it here. Being on the trade route Lankan food has had influences from Portugal to China, and of course they have their very own local Chinese community, and the Chinese food here is quite unique.

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My family left Sri Lanka when I was seven. It took us 10 years to make our first trip back, and since then, I’ve been lucky enough to go every couple of years. Every trip I discover a new favorite place, a new shopping spot, or a new restaurant that I love visiting. Due to the conflict that has plagued Lanka for so long, it had remained largely untouched by tourism. With every peace treaty during the conflict periods, expats rushed into visit their family and friends, and once the conflict started the visits dried up. With the conflict ending in 2009, there has been a change in the demographic of visitors to Sri Lanka.

On my last few recent trips, the flights have been at least 30% tourists, which is great to see! From young adults of Sri Lankan descent coming without their families for their first visit ever, to tourists from every corner of the world. It’s amazing what a few years of peace can do to bring tourism back into a country which has remained untouched for such a long time.

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Sri Lanka being in Asia, is perfect for the budget traveler, with low cost accommodation, and the cost of living being fairly low once you take into account currency translation. The Lux traveler can throw their money at exclusive resorts, with amazing service. Also the fairly good understanding of English from the locals makes it easy for English-speaking tourists with no knowledge of the local language to navigate around. I have never felt unsafe nor felt that I would be the target of pick pockets. Although I am from Sri Lanka, the locals are quite good at picking up the expats πŸ™‚ So from their point of view I am as much a tourist as anyone else.

With so many visits to Sri Lanka under my belt I feel lucky to have the chance to write about such a special place. Keep an eye out for the upcoming posts on top tourist places and local secrets.

Happy Trip Avenging!

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