"Ayu Bowan Sri Lanka" Top 5 Page for this destination Sri Lanka by mafi_moya
Sri Lanka Travel Guide: 4,075 reviews and 10,383 photos
My Sri Lankan adventure is now over for the time being unfortunately, although I still hope to get back there some day soon. I lived in 'the resplendent isle' (as the guidebooks call it) for about 18 months and had a great time. But, like most places I suppose, I only realised how much I liked it now I'm not there anymore!
I miss the impossibly bright colours - of everything from the scenery to the sarongs. I miss the smell of freshly cooked lamprais and the constant chop-chop sound of the man cooking kotthu (if you've been to Sri Lanka you'll know what I mean!) I miss the glorious sunsets over the Indian ocean and that you can stare out over the sea knowing that the next piece of land is Antarctica! I miss 'wasting' whole days sat on Wellawatta beach with some friends and a bottle (ok several bottles!) of arrack, and the fact that Sri Lanka has the most public holidays in the entire world! Hey I even miss suicidal late night tuk-tuk racing through Colombo!
It's a wonderful country - unbelievably beautiful scenery, fascinating recent and ancient history, friendly people, great climate, and an intriguing blend of religions and cultures. As every guidebook ever written about Sri Lanka will tell you, the great explorer Marco Polo once described the island as the best of its size anywhere in the world. Arab traders referred to it as Serendip - an unexpected delight. For such a little country it's sure got a lot going for it!
The best thing about Sri Lanka is its variety. It's only a small island yet within a few hours of each other are splendid golden beaches, the famous hill country, the northern dry zone, lush rice paddies, and herds of wild elephants rampaging through the forests. There are Muslims, Christians, Hindus and of course Buddhists. Dutch, Portuguese and British colonialists have all been in control at some point - leaving a unique mix of influences.
Under the most recent colonialists, the British, the island was known as Ceylon and became famous for its tea, still one of the country's main exports. Upon independence the name Sri Lanka was chosen. British rule had encouraged many divisions and after independence the Tamil (mainly Hindu) minority suffered great discrimination from the Sinhalese (mainly Buddhist) establishment. Tensions gradually grew and erupted in 1983 when rioting in Colombo led to the brutal murders of many Tamils. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE - more famously known as the Tamil Tigers) were engaged in a guerilla war to establish a separate Tamil state in the north. The escalating war eventually involved India and the LTTE assassinated the Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The country descended into chaos, with even a bloody civil uprising in the south by the far-left Sinhalese nationalist JVP. Then in 2001 a Norweigan-brokered ceasefire was signed and has generally held since.
Peace looked (looks?) a pretty good prospect, everyone was very optimistic and tourists returned in their thousands. Then late last year a political crisis broke out and the increasingly crazy President Kumaratunga disbanded parliament and called snap elections. She won with a little help from her 'friends' (forming alliances with the JVP and other hardline groups) and the peace deal is looking a bit shaky. A breakaway LTTE faction and rebel in-fighting in the east hasn't helped and Colombo recently suffered its first suicide bomb attack in several years. Perhaps most worrying is the re-emergence and increasing public popularity of hardline nationalist groups like the JVP.
All of a sudden the general public feeling is a lot less optimistic than say a year ago. But most of the country is still accessible to tourists and there is an overwhelming desire for peace after two decades of war, in which 60,000 people have been killed. For most visitors the war and its legacy seems a million miles away and most people's experiences are of a stunningly beautiful country, a rich diverse culture, and extremely friendly people.
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