Sri Lanka and Dubai

Sri Lanka and Dubai

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Last year I traveled to Sri Lanka, the jewel of the Indian Ocean. Few islands in the world offer the diversity that exists in Sri Lanka: ancient ruins, green hills of the tea country, palm fringed beaches, colorful religious festivals, colonial legacies, and an astonishing variety of flora and fauna.

I flew on Emirates Air from San Francisco to Dubai where I spent a few nights to break up the journey. Dubai is a fascinating must-see city. From Dubai I took a direct flight to Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka, In Colombo one is introduced to history through mixed architecture from the Portuguese, Dutch and British.

We drove to the famous Cultural Triangle. There are several stops:  an elephant orphanage, the giant rock fortress Sigiriya, a World Heritage site and Minneriya National Park, home to large herds of wild elephants.

We began in Anuradhapura, the first capital and the center of Sri Lanka. Abandoned after an invasion in 993 AD, this World Heritage Site has some of the tallest dagobas, remains of palaces, monasteries and temples.

Dambulla most captured my imagination. Also a World Heritage Site, it’s cherished for its richly painted cave temples where King Valagam Bahu took refuge from invasions in the 1st century BC (that’s right - the 1st century!). Among the highlights 2000 year old frescoes and a colossal figure of the recumbent Buddha carved out of living rock some 15 meters long. There are delightful monkeys playing all along the way.

Kandy was the last bastion of Buddhist political power against colonial invasion. The palace, shrines and British period buildings have special character while the Buddha’s tooth relic lends religious importance to this historic highland capital.

We took a lovely train ride to the “teaside” town of Hatton. Here you can enjoy the art and science of growing and harvesting some of the world’s finest Ceylon teas. You will find charming Tea Trail Inns with all the amenities of the English countryside - a lovely area to relax, hike, ride bikes, swim, play tennis or croquet.

Then off to the South to Fort Galle. This ancient trading post was an essential port of call for Chinese, Persian, Arab and Indian traders. Today one can visit lovely Dutch and Portuguese landmark buildings and the fort itself. From Galle it is a two hour drive to one of the many picturesque Southern beaches.

The best time to go to this tropical island is between December and March but Spring and Fall can be lovely and less crowded. I found the people to be warm and welcoming, Approximately 85% of Sri Lankan’s are Buddhists.

Please call me if you would like more information and are interested in traveling to Sri Lanka.