|R running down a road in Sri Lanka: so lush!|
This was my first time in the Indian cultural world (if you don't count Singapore's Little India!) and it was fantastic. When I thought of Sri Lanka before going there I thought of the decades-long civil war, which with the images of bombings, massacres and general destruction is not a very positive impression. Or there's the devastating 2004 tsumani which killed over 35,000 people! Cheery!
But although Sri Lanka is obviously poor, it is actually a great place to visit. The people are warm and friendly, the scenery is extremely beautiful, the food is delicious, and the culture is fascinating. I was also pleasantly surprised by the amount of tourist infrastructure: we had no problem at all traveling around, hotels were numerous and up to Western standards, and thanks to their former status as a British colony, English speakers and signage are everywhere. It was similar to Thailand in terms of ease of travel, actually.
I was most impressed by the country's natural beauty, though we only had time to see a small portion of it (we only saw the west-central region). Above are the Central Highlands, where the tea is grown (in the distance are tea plantations). Here's the area right around the country's second-largest city, Kandy.
And here's photos from our drive from Colombo (the capital) to Kandy. So gorgeous!
Incidentally, the lower picture gives you some idea of Sri Lanka's issues: there is one highway in the entire country, and it is on the western seacoast. This means the only road between the two major urban centers is a two-lane country road, including many tuk-tuks which have a top speed of around 30 mph. The below picture is indeed of this road (we drove through that tunnel! though there is a small detour for the large trucks which also drive this way). As long as you're not in a hurry, it's fine!