Sri Lanka-a travel incentive
Sri Lanka – a travel incentive
I decided to write this motivational article to advise potential travellers what to expect from people, food, and what are the unwritten positive and negative habits in Sri Lanka. I also advise how to live cheaply and well in this beautiful country at least for a while. This article is only an addition to my full report on Sri Lanka, and I wrote it to encourage white explorers to travel.
People of Sri Lanka
Generally people of Sri Lanka are nice and I never encountered any danger. However, whilst being there I felt like a walking pound sterling, as it seems to me that every conversation comes down to money. Even though I’ve been to many countries, I have never met people as hungry for money as in Sri Lanka. Besides, Sri Lankans are very curious and ask me a lot of personal questions every time they meet me. First they want to know where I’m from and what my name is. Then if I’m in Sri Lanka for the first time and if I like it, and what I think about the people. Then comes a series of very personal questions; whether I have a wife and children, and if so, then how many. They also want to know where I work and most importantly how much I earn. They are able to ask all those questions within one minute, and when they no longer have ideas for other questions, then they get to the point. They ask whether to get me a room for a double price, of course. They want to sell me paintings or point to a restaurant, and when I give them all only negative answers, then they want to sell me marijuana or a woman.
Whenever Sri Lankans see a white man they are a delighted, because for example for a coconut which costs no more than 20 rupees, one man wanted to sell me for 50 rupees. My advice is to be nice to them but very firm, because without strong character you can quickly lose all your money there by overpaying each time. When entering a bar, many times I had to argue first, because for me the price was often double. The Sri Lankans themselves are nice though. For example, they always bow to me and hand me items in a very polite manner, calling me ‘sir’. They also have sense of humor and one can always make a deal with them. I think that Buddhism also plays a large role there, what means that they are always peaceful and kind.
As always however, the exception to the rule are the rickshaw drivers, who cannot be trusted in anything under any circumstances. It is the same in India. There, auto rickshaws have a reputation of fraudsters and thieves, and are associated by the Indians with everything that is worst. Therefore this profession must be performed by people with a very crooked morality. Generally the people of Sri Lanka are peaceful and hospitable and they have a sense of humor, but on the other hand they can seriously test the patience of white travellers. The subject of money and constant cheating is sometimes hard to handle. People in Sri Lanka can be intrusive and tiring.
Food of Sri Lanka
Whuilst exploring Sri Lanka for almost a month I had the opportunity to try local food, which is very rich in flavours and colors, and therefore I decided to write a separate chapter about it too. In my experience, rice is the basic ingredient of all dishes, because it doesn’t have to be imported. Added to this are vegetables in many flavors and fish, chicken or egg. As before in India, Sri Lanka also has a lot of curry and biryani. I would say that Sri Lankan cuisine is rather spicy, although still not as spicy as Thai or Southeast Chinese cuisine, where in my opinion chilli was the main dish. In Sri Lanka, local spices guarantee a wealth of flavours. Usually these are curry, chilli, cinnamon, coconut milk, garlic, and dried and grated seafood. When I ordered lunch, it was usually a plate or banana leaf of rice with spicy vegetables and dal on the sides; the only mild dish.
In summary, the food is similar to that of India but depending on the state of course. In all restaurants and cheap bars my plate was always covered with disposable foil and my cutlery was scalded. Another Sri Lankan specialty is roti, which is vegetables or an egg with spicy or sweet vegetables wrapped in a pancake. It’s a pity that they were always kneaded and served with dirty hands, and sometimes they were put on a dirty trash bin. Another variation of roti is parhata, a pancake without any additives. When I was by the ocean many times I ate many kinds of delicious fish; usually with rice, vegetables, and coconut shavings.
Fruit are a very good dessert. These are mainly mangoes, coconuts, papayas, durians, rambutans, wooden apple and jackfruit; although there are also apples, mandarins, pineapples, several species of bananas and grapes. Each of those fruits have its own unique taste and appearance, and they make a very good dessert. I described many of these fruits in more detail in my Thailand report when I entered Hat Yai. Sri Lanka is also a home of many sweets. In addition to chocolate milk, ice cream and very good yoghurts, there are many sweets unique to this island. The first one I came across was a halap, a mixture of honey, flour and coconuts wrapped in a leaf, and having the consistency of a hard jelly.
Another specialty is dodol, a jelly cake with rice, coconut and milk as its main ingredients. They also often throw nuts and chopped fruit into it. Generally, most sweets in Sri Lanka contain rice and coconuts, because there are a lot of these two ingredients. Many dishes are also fried in coconut oil. When I climbed Sri Pada, at the very top the monks offered me samapose, which are kneaded, sweet balls; also prepared from coconut, milk and nuts. Another delicacy is appe, which is a cheap and quick snack for 10 rupees. This is another type of pancake whose only ingredients are coconut milk and rice powder.
I also think that I could write a separate chapter about coconuts, which are used in Sri Lanka for everything, and not only for food. There are several types of them in Sri Lanka. First of all, coconut is known to be a refreshing drink, which is very healthy and cheaper than artificial drinks. Coconut is also used to make oil, chips, alcohol, it is the basis of many spices and dishes, its remains serve as food for animals, and its fiber is used for brushes, ropes and other household items. Its shell is used in temples where breaking it brings good luck, and it is a tradition that the first food for a baby and a dish served at weddings is kiri bath, which is rice cooked in coconut milk.
Finally, coconuts are used in construction, and nothing is wasted. Strong coconut trees are used to make boards and frame houses and fences, and the leaves are used to make roofs and fences. They also serve as cheap souvenirs for tourists. I also think that what I wrote about them can be applied to any other country, where coconut trees are abundant at every turn. I mean India and Southeast Asia, where coconuts are a life-saving plant for many. No part of the coconut palm should go to waste.
The cultural heritage of Sri Lanka
For such a small island that looks like a teardrop south of India, Sri Lanka has a very rich ancestral cultural heritage. There are many spectacular temples in Colombo among picturesque tropical nature. There is also a very attractive and atmospheric Kelaniya temple complex in the outskirts of Colombo. In Sri Lanka there are also caves with Buddha statues and frescoes on the walls. One of them is Dambulla, hidden in the jungle. There is also the famous Sigiriya in Sri Lanka. A tall rock emerges from the tropical jungle, on top of which are the ruins of an ancient fortress and attractive frescoes of women.
Sri Lanka also has ancient cities of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura. It is an ancient world of ancient temples, Buddhist stupas and religious reliefs. The huge statues of Buddha carved in the rocks are a spectacular and breathtaking addition. I organized a several-day bicycle trip there. Besides, the cultural beauty is also found in other places. I saw a big statue of reclining Buddha, while climbing through the jungle to Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada). In addition, a traveller is accompanied by the surrounding exoticism. There are coconut trees, banana trees, monkeys in trees and waterfalls. There are coconut vendors everywhere, and stalls selling exotic Asian fruit.
How to live in Sri Lanka
I always want to go back to every beautiful country that I have already visited, and I always ask the locals for advice on how to do it in the best and cheapest way. People pay a lot of money for a very short vacation under palm trees, and when they’re there, they are robbed because they pay the tourist price. Here is my recipe for Sri Lanka, which is how to live 3 months or half a year and have minimal costs, living away from work, duties, bills and taxes. I can assure you that it is real and you don’t have to be rich to have a heavenly life by the turquoise, warm ocean.
Sri Lanka is more expensive than the rest of the Indian Subcontinent, except for the Maldives. I can’t do anything about the flight itself except buying well in advance, although it’s still not cheap. While I was there, I paid £411 for a flight with Kuwait Airways. The Sri Lankan government grants a visa for 3 months, which can be easily extended to 6 months.
From what I found out, I could rent a house with a kitchen, bathroom, living room and a small garden with a coconut palm tree for around £100 to a maximum of £150 per month, which is still a joke compared to the European prices. It would be a cottage very close to the ocean. When it comes to food, you should absolutely skip the restaurants and places crowded with tourists. Remember that local people also have to shop somewhere, and so next to every wonderful beach full of white people, within a few kilometers there is always a town of local people who buy at local prices, which are ridiculously cheap for us. A kilo of rice costs 60 rupees, pineapples and mangoes are 10 rupees each, and papayas can be bough for that price as well.
Apart from that, there are vegetables and the rest of the fruit, which are also cheap. If we don’t trust the sellers, we can go with a Sri Lankan colleague who will negotiate a fair price for us. Sri Lanka is a country of delicious fish. For example, a small cutlet in a restaurant costs up to 600 rupees, but at a fish market a large fish that would feed the whole family for 4 days costs 100-150 rupees. Of course, buying fish is not always necessary because I was fishing alone, and then apart from saving money, I also had great satisfaction. Fishing lines, hooks and lures are sold everywhere for a few rupees. You also have to remember to only use local transport.
This is how you can spend a little while living a great life. We don’t have to pay for the ocean, beautiful weather and palm trees. I also advise you to move from time to time because Sri Lanka is beautiful, but since we have a lot of time, we don’t have to hurry. Besides, Sri Lanka is not only about beaches and temples. A great attraction is the elephant orphanage in Pinnawala, where travellers can watch the elephants bathing. Noteworthy are also the sea turtle hatchery in Kosgoda, and tea plantations in Ella.
If someone thinks it’s still too expensive, I recommend South India. There, the flight, life and half-year visa are cheaper, and it’s also beautiful. (People in India also test patience.) You don’t have to be rich to make your dreams come true. All you need is willingness, imagination, a broad worldview, no addictions, resistance to political propaganda, and a little courage.
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