Crazy, alternative travellers guide to Sri Lanka with survival tips, customs,
culture, food and drink.
PART TWO..... Back to Part
Cinemas: Make sure
cinemas are air-conditioned. The usual
fare is cheap imported naughty films, overlong Hindi films and locally produced
films of variable quality.
Breakdown of projection
equipment is common and often comes as a relief. Females should not visit
cinemas unescorted. Cinema posters are painted by colour-blind artists.
(Right: Sri Lanka's answer to Laurel &
Newspapers in Sri Lanka broadcast everything other than the news! This is
largely because they are State-controlled and the independant newspapers get
bashed by the Government. Editors
are appointed by the Government. A number of former editors and correspondents
now walk with the help of crutches. Officially, there is of course "Freedom of
The Government controlled "Daily News" is a good laugh. A favourite Sri Lankan pastime is to
count the number of times the President is mentioned on the first page. The
political cartoons are not funny.
Daily News is also known as the "Daily Fart".
Don't miss the matrimonial columns of any
Travel Tip ! Toilet
Copies of the Daily News
make good toilet paper!
Parks: The Galle Face
Green is a popular sea front park. It is anything but green.
The Vihara Maha Devi Park (formerly
Victoria Park) is worth a visit when political rallies are taking place.
Don't forget to wear a helmet and a flak jacket. A gas mask is also recommended on days when the local police practice
tear gas throwing. Join in the fun and shout "Jayawewa!" or
"Bungawewa!" depending on the mood of the crowd. It is considered bad
manners to shout "Parippuwa"!
Bars and Nightclubs:
Find out before hand if a particular establishment is patronised by Members of
Parliament or their sons. Warning! Avoid these. Drinks are expensive and watered down except when
inspectors from the Excise Department visit. Ask for drinks from the same
bottle as served to the inspectors.
Food and Drink
Tea: There is no doubt that Sri Lanka produces the best tea
in the world (e.g. Dilmah Tea and Mlesna Tea). Unfortunately, if
you ask for 'Tea' you will get a cup of hot tea with powdered milk and three
teaspoonfuls of sugar per cup. You could stand a teaspoon in
this! If this is not to your taste ask
for 'plain tea' which also comes with three teaspoonfuls of sugar but without
the powdered milk concrete.
These are a Srilankan
staple but not usually available in four star hotels (see recipe). Don't ask
for them if dining at the Hilton, Grand Oriental or the Galle
Face hotels as you might be thrown out! The best Malupaans may be found near DeSoysa Circus in Colombo
(opposite Eye Hospital) or at the Salgado Hotel, Kalutara.
Arrack: An amber coloured spirit of variable quality and
strength often watered down in hotels to protect the liver. A slight flavour
and aftertaste of kerosene is normal.
Travel Tip ! Getting
Drunk On Poya Days
Liquor is not officially
sold on Poya (full moon) days. Just stock up before hand like the locals
Sri Lanka is a major producer of buth packets. Invariably cheap, they consist
of rice with various types of curries wrapped in thin polythene (Sili-Sili
Kola) to form a packet. Warning! The polythene is for wrapping purposes only and is
inedible. Look out for
large colourful signs advertising buth packet outlets (see pic) or ask a local.
A buth kade is a small eating house usually of shack like
construction with a Coca-Cola sign. Don't let this put you off from trying out hoppers and string
Sadilin's daughter's Petti Kade
Travel Tip ! Free
Free meals are available
at all Government Hospitals and in fact most patients are in hospital
for the free meals. They can't be seriously ill if they can eat! Try this only
in sheer desperation, as hospital food is probably the worst food in the
country. If getting admitted to hospital don't complain of diarrhoea or
vomiting as they will put you on 'No Diet' which is the Sri Lankan
equivalent of 'Nil by mouth'.
Mlesna Tea was named
after Saint Anselm who allowed his name to be used
Mlesna Tea is one of the good quality teas to come from
Sri Lanka after the tea plantations were largely nationalised
Gems:Everyone in Sri Lanka is an expert on gems. Unless you are an
expert yourself it is best to buy gems and jewellery through the Argos
catalogue or some other British outlet. If you still want to buy gems in Sri Lanka go to a Government run Gem
Corporation outlet. The staff are only there to collect their salaries and so
be patient. WARNING: Gems sold on the beach are quartz ('white
sapphire') or fragments from a broken bottle of Milk of Magnesia ('blue
sapphires'). Broken beer bottle fragments make nice Topaz or Emeralds depending
on the colour.
Lanka has the highest number of public holidays for any country with the
possible exception of the Pacific Island of Bora Bora.
group wants its own holidays and the full moon day (Poya Day) is also a
Lanka celebrates its own New Year's Day in addition to the more conventional
1st of January.
In addition to all these Sri Lanka has public holidays on the following days as
Birthday of Gerardus Mercator March
Day March 8 Constitution Day, Norway May 17 National Day, Luxembourg June 23 Death of Jim Reeves July 31 World Population Day July 11
Day, Bolivia Aug 6 Death of Rohana Wijeweera Nov 13
Jim Reeves The
death anniversary of this Country 'n' Western singer is a public holiday in Sri
Plans to introduce a
'Portuguese Day' to commemorate the first arrival of the Portuguese in
1505 is on hold. All international
cricket match days are holidays as well!
Mastering the language
Sinhalese: Sinhalese is not a
difficult language to master although the alphabet has 250 letters. Most were added to make the language difficult.
For instance there are two of the
letter L and two of N. There are also two Ñs. Sadistic schoolteachers just, to make life difficult
for school children, introduced these in the 1950s. It is perfectly possible to
get by without most of the letters in the official alphabet.
Further Reading About Sinhalese
Dictionary .......................... How to pronounce Sri Lankan
names....... Sri Lankan Nicknames...................................
In its great
wisdom the Sri Lankan Garment decided to create a mini Niagara
Falls in Colombo as a tourist attraction. What happened was that a hole appeared in
the road as a result of chronic bad management. Instead of filling it the
authorities decided to make it an attraction. So here we are. Why bother to go
to Canada to see the real thing? We have got it in Colombo!
(Photographer/photo manipulator unknown)
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