( p.s travel should be interesting, vacations should be lovely)
23.12.2011 - 11.01.2012
Things in Sri Lanka that make me smile:
1. THE FOOD! String hoppers to mop up delicious curries. A table laden with eight different delicacies for dinner. Roti bread. Coconut sambal, soft cashew nut chilli dish, delicious fried short eats, fresh cuttlefish, curries so spicy they make even MY eyes water!
2. Crazy buses that don’t so much stop, as slow down to allow passengers to jump on and off, bus boys hollering the name of the destination drumming up business for a full ride.
3. Family relationships. Generations living under the same roof, everyone must be home for a hefty lunch and dinner, which has been slaved over for hours. A few days ago I was lucky enough to participate in such a family feast, and it is true string hoppers and curry do taste better when eaten with your hands ( providing they are clean)!
4. Open carriage trains speeding through rice fields and along coastline, plunging through hill country jungle while buskers hop on to earn some cash and men selling snacks board at each station.
5. The fact that unlike places like Thailand, Cambodia and even Laos these days, Sri Lanka is not overcrowded with tourists. Despite some resort towns , overall it has retained it's very unique culture.
]Things in Sri Lanka that definitely do NOT make me smile.
1. Sexual harassment( Refer to earlier post).
2. Racism/classism: Having lunch with two local friends and being treated with a definitive air of coldness and hostility by the Italian run restaurant. Having my friend’s brother come to visit me in my guesthouse, a remarkable well spoken, well dressed young gentleman who was made to wait outside while they interrogated first him and then me on why he was there.
3. Poverty: The desperation in the three wheeler man’s eyes, the fisherman shanty town, just a stones throw from the majestic Mt Lavinia Hotel.
4. Foreign Pricing: I actually agree that foreigners should pay more than locals, particularly for religious sites, where locals regularly come to worship on a regular basis, BUT 500-900% more is a bit steep. We are not all package tourists Sri Lanka, stop living in the 80’s tourist market.
5. Military and police presence always makes me feel a little nervous. Young men carrying big guns, military checkpoints and high security zones. As I overheard one Sri Lankan man at a party say, in lowered voice : "Off the record, Sri Lanka IS a police state".