FOR Lindsay and Robyn Dann of Shepparton this was a chance to catch up with some old friends and experience the culture and food of a very interesting country.
Their destination was Sri Lanka, a country of contrasts with a history dating back to its British origins and a full on dedication to the game of cricket. They were joined by Shepparton couple, Bill and Kathryn Carroll and friends now living in Dubai, Andrew and Gabby Van Newton.
Flying into the capital Colombo, they headed for a beach resort for a few days R&R and then onto Galle with its fabulous old fort and of course cricket ground.
It was here that they visited a crocodile and fish farm. The fish were for eating, the crocodile for handbags.
You could sit with your feet in a pond while the fish would mass around your feet removing any dead skin. It was at once pleasant and a bit ticklish.
From Colombo they took the local train to Kandy. It was an interesting trip. The train is open-sided and the fare was just under $2 for the three and a half hour trip. It was great with wonderful scenery and at each stop along the way hawkers would join the train selling everything including an array of food.
You could choose from freshly cut pineapple, mango with cinnamon (Sri Lanka is known for its cinnamon), corn with salty butter, freshly made rice curry and chilli fritters and pappadums and they loved it all.
Arriving in Kandy they took a local bus to their villa. It was an old British manor fully restored, the accommodation was great the food very good (the owner was also the chef) and the city itself a fascinating place to explore.
Kandy is famous for its Buddhist site including the Temple of the Tooth. It is said to be the tooth of Buddha and is always popular as a religious temple. During special festivals, people come from all over Sri Lanka to celebrate.
Kandy is surrounded by mountains and tea plantations and a biodiverse rainforest. In the centre of town is a large lake and people love to walk around it of an evening. A must do is a visit to tea plantations and meet with the local women harvesting the crop.
Catching the train they travelled on the return journey to Colombo, where they wanted to visit a special restaurant. Known as the Yarl, the restaurant was voted by TV chief, Rick Stein as having the best curry and the specialty of the house is Jaffna chilli crab.
Lindsay says the food was great but the restaurant wasn’t exactly high end. The tables were stainless steel, the plate was a banana leaf and the napkins were made from newspaper.
While in Colombo they also visited the Cricket Club Café. The café is stacked with cricket memorabilia used by famous cricketers dating back to the 1940s, there were items used by such names as Sir Donald Bradman, Ray Lindwall, Shane Warne, and Arjuna Ranatunga to mention just a few.
The café walls were covered in old newspapers from the 1930s, with photos and posters honouring the past.
But all good things must come to an end. The holiday was over and it was time to fly home to Australia and Dubai. Lindsay would like to thank Kate Mudford of Escape Travel in Shepparton for arranging everything.
Lindsay says he can recommend Sri Lanka as a great travel destination. The people are very friendly, you feel very safe and the food is really great plus there is so much to see and do.
Until next time,