Sri Lanka · 8 Days · 13 Moments · March 2016

27 March 2016

In Nuwara Eliya we decided to take the train through the tea plantations and wow, was that a great idea. The verdant fields, the misty fog and the sound of old fashion train cars. I know my brothers-in-law Jeff and David would love this ride. We also drove part way, no real destination and lucky us we came across a most visual Hindu parade by local villagers. There were young men with hooks on their skin suspended on pole, apparently a gesture of pay back for some good fortune or luck, or a sacrifice in the hopes of receiving good luck.

24 March 2016

In Kandy, another ancient capital city, we met Chef Jeeva of the Cinnamon Hotel group. A native of Kandy, he's quite an accomplished chef. He did a cooking demo of dahl curry, chicken curry and great bean curry. The secret ingredient is once again the freshly squeezed coconut milk and exacting execution of spices and herbs. I just love the Sri Lankan ways with pandan, ginger, lemongrass and all those aromatic spices!
It's so fascinating to climb hundreds of steps in the hot humid sun then enter a cool, dark cave and greeted by meticulously hand carved Buddhas, all different sizes and styles. Like other places of worship, the cave temples in Dambulla are revered by locals including uniformed school children of all ages who've come to pay their respect.

23 March 2016

The reclining Buddha in Polonnaruwa is what first captivated me to Sri Lanka.
It must have been an intriguing city when Anuradhapura was at its zenith during the 3rd century BC. Surrounded by dense forests, this ancient capital was adorned with palaces, stupas, monuments and monasteries with 20-foot long stone bins used for serving curries and rice. Think 3rd century BC foodservice buffet.

22 March 2016

Dambulla is part of a region called the Cultural Triangle consisting of ancient cities including Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa founded between 3rd century BC and 993 AD respectively. What a treat to be seeing these UNESCO Heritage sites without the usual crowds. This place is truly special. Very hot about 38C but it was worth climbing the thousand steps to see.
The Heritance Kandalama hotel is such a special property tucked on a hill in a forest jungle. I fell in love with string hoppers (rice noodles)and apam (rice flour pan cakes) and had to learn how to make them. In the afternoon dozens of monkeys came by to visit our room!

21 March 2016

I've read that Sri Lanka has one of the world's most dense elephant populations and I can hardly wait for the safari at Yala National Park. This visit to the elephant orphanage on the way to Kandy is a great warm up. Wonder if we will get to see this many in the wild?
The Negombo fish market.

20 March 2016

Lucky us our live introduction into Sri Lankan cuisine is through the eyes of Colombo's top chef Dharshan Munisada of Ministry of Crab - don't you just love him already - among several of his renowned restaurants for which he's received top awards for being among Asia's Top 50 restaurants. He's such an amazing thoughtful chef and his passion is to put Sri Lankan cuisine on the map. But back to his mud crab (a fat variety revered for its sweet flesh) that comes to the table bathed in aromatic black pepper sauce that simply can't be devoured without an oversized bib! It was maybe the best crab preparation I've had. But just to be sure, we need to go Ministry of Crab again before we leave.
Temples. Temples. They're everywhere, well attended, revered and cared for. Even for a visitor, it's sanctuary of calm and inner peace.
Day 1 in Colombo. Got up late so only caught a glimpse of the wholesale section of Petta Market.
Also lucked out with our first hotel in Colombo. The former residence of British governors and a Sri Lankan prime minister, this 10 room boutique hotel is a gem. Amazing service and classy touches throughout. No wonder Prince Charles and Camille chose to stay here recently.