Sri Lanka travel comes highly recommended for some winter sun. This tear drop shaped island at the foot of India is also renowned for its beautiful gems. Particularly sapphires. In fact Lady Diana’s engagement ring was made with gems from here. It didn’t take me long to find the gem shops and to spend many happy hour looking around them. I did make a couple of purchases too.
Shopping in Sri Lanka
Shopping is always fun in the Indian sub continent. Beautiful hand made things are so cheap. You can haggle in the markets for the best price and the locals will always ‘super serve’ you. They know it’s important to please the customer and after all, their businesses rely on them.
Shopping at its best is one of life’s great pleasures. It can be enjoyed at any age and in any state of mind (funds permitting) and is less harmful than many other common pastimes.
One great shop which is must visit when you are in the capital Columbo is Paradise Road. It sells the most gorgeous homewares at a much cheaper price than you will find at home. I love crockery and pots and plates and purchased some beautiful plant pots as well as a number of other items. All of goods are carefully and expertly wrapped at the Paradise Road wrapping station.
Exploring the land of Buddha
Heading out of Columbo on the next stage of my Sri Lanka travel experience, I headed off on a bone rattling four hour van journey up country. My guide, I was told had ‘perfect English.’ He didn’t actually have much English at all!
We left behind Negombo town’s Catholic Halloween parade. This strange demonstration saw righteous citizens in grand procession down the main street protesting against drugs, prostitution, cigarettes and gay people. It was a kind of catch all protest.
We arrived at Anuradhapura, home to the world UNESCO site of the Singhalese ancient city. I entered the land of BUDDHA. Buddha was a real person in history and was always striving towards Nirvana. More than 70% of Sri Lankans are Buddhist and there are around 6,000 Buddhist monasteries here.
This world heritage site has a lot of temples or STUPAs, A Stupa is a kind of giant circular mound where you go to leave offerings to and connect with your Buddha. The red stupa is over 1800 years old and is still the tallest brick built building in the world. It is a testament to the architectural intelligence of the ancient Singhalese.
Sri Lanka travel and the sacred monkeys
Around the stupas, devout visitors leave floral offerings to Buddha. The offerings are promptly eaten by the black faced gibbons who treat the area as their own private sanctuary. You need to wear a top which covers your shoulders at these temples. I forgot this fact and had to wander around with a towel draped over me like a sort of unconvincing superhero cloak.
The black faced gibbons are bold and unafraid of people. They swagger about the ancient monuments as if they are responsible for their construction and should receive respect accordingly. Cheeky monkeys turn on the water butt taps for a drink if they are thirsty and don’t bother to turn them off again! They are always in the market for a free snack from anyone. Monkeys like to file in line across the doorway of the ancient oriental library with absolutely no plans to pop in and increase their educational level. They remain blase about their ancient and venerated playground.
Sri Lankan travel – Negombo next
Next we set of to the city of Negombo on the West coast of Sri Lanka. It was raining as we entered the busy town centre with its yellow clock tower. The old Leyland buses are still running here. It is all pleasingly retro.