The tear-shaped island of Sri Lanka, resting in the Indian Ocean, has been home to many peoples throughout history. Settled roughly 30,000 years ago, this "pearl of the Indian Ocean" has seen its fair share of invaders, including the Indians, Portuguese, Dutch and British. The latter referred to the island as Ceylon, and used it for the mass cultivation of tea and rubber. The island is also home to a Buddhist majority, but also Hindus, Muslims and Christians, making trips to holy sites an eye-opening experience.
Sri Lanka recently faced dark times, as a 27-year civil war ravaged the country. Separatist Tamils in the north fought with the Sri Lankan army, leading to the deaths of more than 90,000 people (UN estimate). In 2004, the tsunami that devastated Indonesia hit the south eastern part of Sri Lanka, killing almost 70,000 people. The war ended in 2009 and the island has undergone a rebuilding process (both internally and externally), leading to amazing infrastructure developments. Currently, Sri Lanka is only South East Asian country to rate 'High' in the Human development index and has a literacy rate of 92%.
And yes, the food is amazing.
Rice and string hopper noodles join forces to scoop up as much curry as possible, made from lentils, jackfruit, coconut, fish and every other delectable item that could be conceivably added. Breakfasts include milk and cinnamon rice slathered with a curry and onion spread, while stops by the side of the road merit hearty servings of water buffalo milk curd (yogurt) and honey from the rich, orange king coconuts.
Our journey was all too short, as any adventure lasting a mere 9 days is sure to be. In the end, we managed to traverse the tea-laden hills of the centre by train as monsoon rains drenched everything we owned. After leaving the warmth of our beds at 2 in the morning, we
summited the 5,000 steps (actually) up the holy mountain of Sri Pada flanked by pilgrims. We encountered our fair share of monkeys, elephants and egg-laying sea turtles, felt monsoon rains drench everything we owned and relax on beaches as the waves tumbled over each other onto the shore. Framed by dark clouds, we walked through walled cities left from empire-builders of a time that is now a distant memory.
In the end, Sri Lanka was a great way to celebrate my quarter of a century on this wonder-filled rock in space!
All of the shots were taken on my Fujifilm X-Pro 1.