Our Managing Director Rory Pilkington recently travelled to Sri Lanka with his wife and teenage daughters.
They discovered resilient Sri Lankans proud to show off an island filled with natural wonder and fascinating culture, with some top-class luxury hotels to match.
Cultural Family Adventure
We wanted to spend time as a family but we also agreed that we would like to see as much of Sri Lanka as possible. It turned out that in Sri Lanka it’s easy to have a diverse holiday as there’s so much to see. Our 12-day itinerary ensured we climbed Sigiriya Rock fortress and saw the Dambulla cave temples, had a swirl around the tea plantations and hill country before dropping down to the coast to experience Sri Lanka’s beaches for some relaxed down time.
A highlight for us was the scenic two-hour train journey that crossed an aqueduct and curved its way around the bright-green tea plantations. My daughters were keen to sit in third class so they could lean out of the train windows and doors for the full immersive experience (and ‘that’ Instagram shot) and I’m glad we did. We were seated near a large family who were clearly in party mode – there was singing and drumming which only paused for curry-eating! We felt privileged to see a side to Sri Lanka where other tourists weren’t. We were also glad of our guide’s advice to get up at 6am to climb Sigiriya Rock. Although hairy at times, we marvelled at the crowd-free rock fortress and the expansive views over Sri Lankan countryside.
Through Sri Lankan Eyes
What really made our trip special was our opportunity to see Sri Lanka through local eyes. Our guide was incredibly engaging and patient with our numerous questions, and it seemed that no topic was off-limits. He also talked us through the many layers of Sri Lankan history which gave us a much deeper understanding.
We were also very impressed with the warm welcome and personal service we received everywhere we went. Sri Lankans are clearly incredibly proud of their country and we saw this from the meticulous leaf sweeping at Sigiriya Rock, our intricate tea plantation tour and the almost mind-reading pool-side service at KK Beach.
Rice and Curry
The whole family were bowled over by Sri Lankan cuisine. We were so taken by it that we joined a couple of cooking classes, one at Tea Trails Bungalow and one in the kitchen of Amanwella accompanied by the head chef. We learned how to make hoppers – the thin bowl-shaped pancake often served with an egg at breakfast, and the basics of rice and curry, a meal which typically showcases ten or more very different curries. We spent mornings visiting markets to buy our own herbs and spices that will help us recreate a Sri Lankan feast at home – I’ll report back!
I always like our family holidays to have an educational slant and this was no exception. But it helped that Sri Lanka and its people were so welcoming and eager to share their country with us. I’m sure we’ll be back.