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Sri Lanka Travel Tips: Passport!

I have a secret. I love to torture my friends with mosquitos, mismatching silverware and terrible service. But it’s all for a good cause, the cause that is food (!!!) at my favorite restaurant in Sri Lanka. It’s so mosquito infested, so lacking in air conditioning and decent decor that only a fool would pick it every time. And I do, it’s delicious! Join me?

Here are some fabulous places to eat, drink and stay in Sri Lanka: Read the rest

STAY: Kandalama Hotel (P.O Box 11,Dambulla 5230, Sri Lanka) was designed by a powerhouse of Sri Lankan design Geoffrey Bawa. The architecture is breathtaking, carved into the rockface with bathrooms of clear glass walls onto the cliffs. It’s an Eco/Luxury/James Bond hotel with monkeys parading the cliffs. Though the Kandalama is fueled by bio mass from local gliricidia trees, the sustainability focus does not dampen the glossy digs. I am already booked in for my honeymoon …

EXPERIENCE: Sri Lanka boasts a few literary giants so it’s fitting that the country hosts The Galle Literary Festival celebrating the cream of their crop. The Festival takes place every year in the southern coastal port city, which in itself is a world heritage site. Accusations around diminishing press freedoms have coloured some previous events but ultimately the forum continues to attract the greats of the literary world and is a reflection of Sri Lanka’s diverse culture and love for literature.

Pinnawella Elephant Orphanage (Rambukkana Road, Kegalle) is surely one of few places you can hand feed baby elephants in a country where Buddhist culture reveres the animals. Many of the animals are also involved in the numerous Poya celebrations (national holidays) as well as the Galle annual Elephant Polo Tournament.

PEOPLE WATCH and EAT: Colombo’s restaurant scene is split between classic favourites and an emerging stylish swell, attracting both expats and locals in equal measure. The Gallery Cafe (2 Alfred House, Off Alfred House Gardens, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka) regularly appears on the world’s best bar lists but its the phenomenal diabetes-in-a-bowl dessert offerings that really hit the spot.

CLIMB: Few places are inspiring at 5 a.m. but Unesco Lion’s Rock fortress Sigirya is one of them. The giant rock houses several caves with paintings that ignore biology (seven-fingered women pointing towards the sacred Kandy Temple) but make up an immense gallery with the stone as the canvas. The mirror wall (polished so intensely that the ancient king Kashyapa could admire himself when walking past) has lost its sheen but the view at the top of the fortress is dazzling.

DONT JUDGE ME: Preparation for dinner at Green Cabin (453 Galle Rd | Kollupitiya, Colombo, Sri Lanka) is a military affair. Mosquito dodging long pants? Check. Mosquito spray? Check. Willingness to accept non-matching cutlery and haphazard service? Check. To be honest cutlery is surplus to requirements. Flex your fingers and eat with your hands. On each visit I ease local friends into my ‘But I am visiting I get to choose the restaurant’ argument as they cajole me into visiting the fancy Japanese places with menus loaded onto iPads or the vast five star hotel buffets. But I just want Green Cabin, it is authentic Sri Lankan food. It’s love and passion in a cashew nut curry, don’t fight the feeling.

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