Will Sri Lanka be a colony again ?

by Monica Nilsson
Sri Lanka
Coastline

My husband and I spent 7 days in Sri Lanka for the first time in beginning of December 2018.I had put together the itinerary myself and was for the first time a little bit anxious how it was going to be.Will it work? Would the contacts be reliable and was it silly not using an agency. I have travelled in 63 countries over the last 30 years and only a handful of these travels we have used an agency, so why wouldn’t even this one work. Luckily it did, almost perfect and according to the schedule and plan. We started in Colombo and had booked us for at the colonial classic nice hotel Galle Face Hotel by the sea, which is a wonderful hotel and I looked forward to this stay very much. https://gallefacehotel.com/What I didn’t expect was to see when we arrived that this beautiful hotel is now surrounded by sky scrapers, landfill, a new harbour and extreme exploitation.All of this mentioned is owned by China in one way or the other.

Construction

Hotels and condos, the new harbour owned by China. They are even planning and construction a new “island” made of landfill from the sea, which looks like a new Marina Bay in Singapore, or Pudong in Shanghai, if you look at the drawings for this 5 year plan. China has also done the new highway and major other roads. OK, at least it is good for the labour and that people after all these years with war now have work. We thought. What we learned is that since the economy for many years during the civil war was so bad in the country, many workers have left already seeking work elsewhere so now China brings their own people to work on the constructions. This is quite sad. You get the feeling even more that China with the country’s even stronger economy is ruling ports, roads and hotels in Sri Lanka and also in Africa. Anyway let’s not talk more about politics. The people in this country we found to be very friendly and helpful and of course, they good speak English (as it used to be a British colony). We had a great time and took a 2 hour tuk-tuk ride in the city, went out walking by our own and enjoyed the hotel’s fantastic restaurants the first few days.

Train Station

After spending 2 days in Colombo we had hired a driver who came punctual to pick us up at the hotel and drive us down the coastline to Galle Fort. It is very nice there and along the way we saw some touristic resorts and beaches and we made a stop at a turtle sanctuary. A man took care of turtles that he found on the beach that was injured from fishing boats or other accidents. He kept them in pools. It was a very simple place and sometimes you have doubts about places like that in poor countries, because people do everything for money and to get entrance fees but I truly hope all of it was true and real and that no turtle was purposely harmed. We came back after a full day to the hotel and enjoyed the nice Mexican restaurant by the beach that belonged to Galle Face Hotel. A very cool place with great interior and we just loved it.Next adventure. Day 3 was to go by train from Colombo to Kandy. We went to the train station a bit early with our pre-booked tickets that was delivered to the hotel from this company https://visitsrilankatours.co.uk/ This train ride was in first class and had air conditioning and the journey took around 3.5 hrs. The schedule was exactly on time.

Amazing

Amazing and we said to each other: How often does this happen nowa days in our home country Sweden? Unfortunately many would agree with me – not so often. In Kandy we had a 2 hour walk in the late afternoon after arriving to our hotel Mahaweli Reach https://www.mahaweli.com/We could see along our walk that many people were about to build new houses and renovation new homes for themselves, right by the rice terraces. Kandy is a lovely little place by a river and we had just a one night stop here to avoid travelling on the train for more than 6 hours. The final destination and goal for this train journey was in fact Nuwara Eliya and to see and live close to the tea plantations. Many friends told me that Ella is even more beautiful but that would have been another 2-3 hours on the road or tracks.

Hotel View

We felt that what we did was more than enough actually. I had found this great place called Luxe Wilderness https://www.booking.com/hotel/lk/luxe-wilderness.en-gb.html and we had 1/2 of the house to ourselves. This yellow, 1.5 year old house, sits on top of a hill overlooking the highest peak in Sri Lanka and it was a new experience. The manager greeted us when we arrived and showed us around the house, he was very helpful and service minded. In the evening we had to go down to the village to a restaurant and the man suggested Grand Hotel, which was a good choice. Grand Hotel was Christmas decorated almost like in the Chevy Chase movie. There were lights and trees and Santas everywhere. t looked like most tourist groups stay here. The journey back to Colombo we choose to do by a private hired car and it took about 6.5 hours. The first hour along the beautiful tea plantations is magnificent and just amazing. The roads are very good almost everywhere. Better than most in Thailand in fact.

Rice Field

Whatever and whoever made them (in this case China) the people of Sri Lanka I think are grateful for. The one thing that concerned me was – again – pollution. You are in the most beautiful of nature you can find in this part of the world and yet the air feels polluted. Diesel trucks and buses use cheap fuel which give back smoke and exhaust and everywhere in the evenings or early mornings fires are to be seen. Individuals burn all household garbage and the air gets very polluted. It is really sad to see when infrastructure and community service not work properly in poorer countries. The other thing that was annoying and in this part Thailand is way better. Everyone out on the roads is constantly on the horn. The buses are the worst. Biggest vehicle wants to be ahead even if it is obvious traffic jam and not much to do about it more than to be patient; they still give you this very long and very loud, angry honking. Leave the way, I have to pass you! Like the buses were an ambulance or an emergency vehicle. In some way and at the same time we started to laugh about this because it seemed so silly and meaningless. No one can really move much in traffic jam situations unless someone is dying and needs to pass.

Citadel

In Thailand you seldom hear this noise and in Sweden it is banned unless there is a real danger situation. We have other noise in Thailand that we feel annoying, e.g. motorbikes. Cars are usually quiet and drivers are patient and tolerant towards each other. Silence and unspoiled nature is more and more luxury nowadays and when you find that peaceful feeling you just want to close your eyes and “be in the moment”.We will not forget Sri Lanka as one of many places on earth to be grateful for having experienced if only for a week. We finished this week just like we started with the last night at Galle Face Hotel. The nice man who drove us there 6 days earlier came on the spot to pick us up also. All worked very fine. Reliability, honesty and trustworthiness are a must in the tourist business and I can say that our experience here was 10/10 in feedback. Well done and good for you and the Sri Lanka people and for all of us visiting you. May your country forever from now on live in peace and harmony!

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