Geoff and Jamie’s Sri Lanka

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Contents

  • How to Get There
  • The Cultural Triangle
  • Travel Considerations
  • Geoff’s Recipes
    Geoff and
  • Jamie’s Itinerary
    Growers Markets Locations

Located at the southern tip of India, Sri Lanka is an exquisite, pear-shaped island afloat in the Indian Ocean. Miles of palm-fringed beaches encircle a surprisingly diverse landscape of dense jungle and mountain highlands. It is home to a people rich in history and cultural traditions, and presents the traveller with many unique opportunities.

A 20 year civil war has kept the west at a distance – however a cease-fire established in February 2002 is still successfully in place, creating peace and a sense of hope amongst this gentle Buddhist nation.

Largely off the tourist trail, Sri Lanka remains a charming and unspoilt Asian destination. And there is no better time to visit than NOW!

How to Get There

A number of airlines and travel agents provide packages to Sri Lanka. Geoff and Jamie chose to travel with:

  • Singapore Airlines
    Phone: 131 011
    Flights every day to Colombo – departing Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane
    Current cost from $2099 economy
    Flights 3 times a week from Perth
    Current cost from $1785 economy
  • Connaissance Travel
    Web: www.connaissanceceylan.com
    Phone: 0011 94 1 685601

Travel Considerations

  • Visas – you will require a visa from the Sri Lankan Consulate before embarking on your holiday. A visa will cost $60 per person, and take approximately 1 week to process.
    Address: Level 11, 48 Hunter St, Sydney 2000
    Phone: (02) 9223 8729
  • Vaccinations – a number of vaccinations are recommended when travelling to Sri Lanka, namely Hepatitis A, Typhoid and Diphtheria. These often need to be administered well in advance of your departure date, and are best discussed with your GP or local vaccination clinic.
  • Best time of year – taking into account the two different monsoon seasons that sweep the island, it is generally recommended to travel between December and March in the south west region, and during May to September on the north east coast.
  • Current Advice from DFAT – it is recommended you check with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade before commencing a holiday in Sri Lanka. Current advice for Australian travellers can be found on the DFAT website on: Web: www.dfat.gov.au. Click on ‘Countries’ and scroll through to ‘Sri Lanka’ There is also valuable general travel information on this website.
  • Books – the ‘Lonely Planet’ series produces a guide to Sri Lanka. ‘The Insight Guide to Sri Lanka’, published by APA, is also an excellent source of information.
  • The Sri Lankan Tourist Board – for a comprehensive insight into the many experiences available to a traveller in Sri Lanka, visit the website of the Sri Lankan Tourist Board: web: www.lanka.net/ctb/

Geoff And Jamie’s Itinerary

Colombo

The island capital, Colombo is a chaotic Asian metropolis. Geoff spent his time at the Pettah, the central market district, while Jamie paid his respects at the magnificent Kelaniya Temple.
The South-West Coast

This region is the most established tourist district on the island, and features a seemingly endless stretch of palm-fringed beaches. While in the area, Geoff and Jamie stopped at Bentota, visiting the wonderful private estate of Geoffrey Bawa, and spending the evening at The Triton, a hotel designed by this great architect.

Location: in Ahungalla, 9 64041 triton@slt.lk
Web: asiatours.net/srilanka/hotels/triton.html

Their next port of call was the historic harbour town of Galle. Geoff made an early morning trip to the bustling fish markets, while Jamie spent the afternoon discovering the unique European architecture of the old quarter.

Their final destination on this coastline was the superb bite-size retreat, Taprobane Island. Located just off the coast of Welligama, it offers an unusual alternative to hotel accommodation.
Booking details: web: www.thesunhouse.com

The Hill Country

Nuwara Eliya and the surrounding central mountain region is what is known locally as ‘the hill country’ and is the heart of the Sri Lanka’s tea industry. Geoff and Jamie spent a day on a tea plantation and visited Dambatenne, the magnificent historical estate of Sir Thomas Lipton, located outside the tiny township of Haputale.

Kandy and Surrounds

Kandy, located at the centre of the island, is Sri Lanka’s historic capital, and considered to be the most beautiful city in the country. Colonial architecture, antique bazaars and numerous Buddhist temples attract locals and foreigners alike.

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
       
Located 30 kms outside Kandy in the town of Kegalle. It is the world’s only elephant orphanage, and is a must-do destination on anyone’s itinerary!
Open: daily from 8.30-5.45, requires a small entrance fee. Don’t miss the feeding and river bathing sessions.
Phone: 35 65284
 
Ranweli Spice Garden

Geoff and Jamie enjoyed a terrific afternoon at this unusual garden. Located in the quiet community of Matale, you can pick up a wonderful selection of fresh spices to take home.
Open: daily, with free entry
Address: 99 Kaudupelella, Matale
Phone: 66 47339
 
The Cultural Triangle

Located in the central northern plains of the island, this area is recognised as the ancient precinct of Sri Lanka, and showcases the remains of several significant early kingdoms. With many archeological sites to discover, Geoff and Jamie chose to visit:

Sigiriya Rock

Rising 200 metres above the ground, this colossal rock fortress is well on the way to being classified as the 8th wonder of the world. With the ruins of a palace on top, and an expanse of elaborate water gardens surrounding its base, it should definitely feature on every traveller’s Sri Lankan itinerary.

Sigiriya Rock is open daily from 7am-4pm, and requires an entry fee. It takes approximately 1.5 hours to climb.

Polonnaruwa

Literally a ghost town, Polunnaruwa features the ruins of an extensive 12th century kingdom. One of the most significant structures of this archeological site is the Gal Vihare, a collection of 3 enormous Buddha statues carved into a granite rock face.

The ancient precinct of Polonnaruwa is open daily, and requires an entry fee. While exploring this fascinating region, Geoff and Jamie stayed at the unique jungle resort of Kandalama, another Geoffrey Bawa masterpiece.

Address: Kandalama Road, Dambulla.
Phone: 722 23475
Web: asiatours.net/srilanka/hotels/kandalama.html

Geoff’s Recipes

‘Malu Abuthiyal’ Fish Curry

Fish curry, a Sri Lankan staple, is a general term for an enormous range of fish dishes that are eaten on the island. Religion, province and season all influence the local cuisine. This is a curry typical of the south-western coastal region, and is often prepared over an open fire in traditional clay pots.

Ingredients

  •  700-800grams Snapper or King fillets (cut into chunks)
  • 2 medium onions – either brown or white
  • 4 stalks of curry leaves
  • 5 green chillies, thinly sliced
  • 2 dried chilies, broken into pieces
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons each of garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon of tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • juice 2 limes
  • 2 cups of water or fish stock

Method

  1. Put the following ingredients – onions, curry leaves, chopped chillies and cinnamon – into a heavy saucepan and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
  2. Then add; garlic and ginger paste, tumeric, chili powder, curry powder and chopped tomatoes
  3. Cook for 5 minutes
  4. Stir in water or stock
  5. Add fish fillets
  6. Cook this for a further 20 minutes, and then add coconut milk and the lime juice
  7. Cook for a final 2 minutes, stirring the coconut milk through well
  8. Serve over a bed of fragrant rice, with an selection of Asian condiments.

This recipe will serve 4-6 portions

Prawn Pol Sambol

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of grated coconut – fresh if possible
  • 5 dried chilies, crushed (approx 1.5 teaspoons)
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 3 green chilies, finely diced
  • 2 limes – juiced
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 table spoons dried shrimp

Method

1. Soak the shrimp in water for 15 mins minutes, and drain excess.
2. Pound or blend to a fine consistency
3. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well

Serve as an accompaniment to curry, particularly fish dishes.