Sri Lanka

Contacts and authenticity

du 23 Août ​au  12 Septembre 2023

we added to this itinerary  long time ago:

  1. -visit of a plantation of rubber tree and  latex workshop. missed

  2. -visit a traditionnal coir workshop (making coconut ropes) 

  3. -visit an Angampora school during a training missed

  4. -visit a kitul harvesting and processing missed

Here is how was our trip :

  1. Puce Day 01 Wednesday 23/08/23 Reach Colombo at 09:00 am  Colombo -  Puttalam - Mihintale

    1. - Lunch suggested by the driver in Hela Bojun Hala (Gov. project to help villagers) - Chilaw: not good and very expensive (2260 SLR for a rice & Curry for 3) Sanka let us pay his meal (753 SLR). This will happen twice, he just waits for me to pay, until I ask to have two separate tickets. We remained vigilant. It's true that 300 SLR per meal is not much, but we have already paid for his meals in the contract which includes the driver's costs. Maybe he thought we wouldn't notice. Indian drivers do this frequently, hence our vigilance.

  2. In Sri Lanka it is rare, only Somarathna in 2009, did it. It's not a problem for us to share the costs of meal with a driver, if it's our choice, if it's automatically imposed, it doesn't work.

  3. Puce We wish to visit the village of Sirambaidiya (Puttalam) where live a traditionnal Kaffir Community .

Discover their cultural heritage. We were hoping to meet Sherin who acts as a guide, residing in Sirambiyadi. She represents the Kafirs, she specializes in preserving the oral history of her people.

The driver contacted them the day before to prepare for our visit. He may have had contact with Sherin.

Arriving in the village, we did not expect them dancing and singing, but they did. Friendly welcome, pretty village, warm people, all of African origin.

22 families live here, descendants of slaves imported from Mozambique by the Portuguese. Some other families live in the Batticaloa area. They are proud of their culture and want to preserve it by maintaining ties and traditions. Sometimes, to earn some money to help families, they perform a traditional show in hotels.

Unlike France and some other countries, this community resulting from slavery cannot attack the land which welcomes them, Sri Lanka not having been at the origin of their transplantation and the Portuguese having left for a long time.

We would have liked to ask them a lot of questions to understand, for example when the Portuguese left the island, why didn't they return to Mozambique? When the Portuguese left, did other colonizers (English or Dutch) take over by keeping them in slavery? When were they officially freed? What is the current status in Sri Lanka?

Before leaving we let them a donation. The village is not far from main road, by a small path in sand.

Contact: Sherin Alex 077 975 0429 Sirambi Adiya - Puttalam - Thanks to Sherin,Juliet, Olivia, Lina, Peter Louis, Sajith Gayan, Justine. 

  1. Puce Overnight in Eco Hotel Black and White (normaly rate 8000 SLR BB) The owner was in Colombo. Nobody told us they have two categories of rooms. Nice rooms in front reception and pool,(13000 SLR BB) low class rooms in the entrance on the side (8000 SLR BB). Without knowing our booked room was low room. A/C didn't work well, room not very clean, TV set out of order. Cables hanging. We didn't want to stay there one more night, next time.

  2. Puce Day 02 Thursday 24/08/23 Anuradhapura - Jaffna by costal road

Nice road looking like a desert. Very hot, everything was burned. 45° outside, the A/C of the van fails and doesn't work until Kandy...Every day we arrive at our destination completely soaked.

  1. - On the road, we encountered police officers almost every 5 km. They stop cars to try to collect backchich. And it works. One of them stopped us and said the driver was going too fast. He was traveling at 50/55 km/h on a desert road with no trafic. No radar, no evidence of excessive speed. But in Sri Lanka, the police are always right. He said "you're in town", even though we were in the middle of the desert! He claims a backchich of 3000 SLR. If the driver refuses, he confiscates his license. The driver is then obliged to pay a fine to the nearest post office, and to present the receipt to the police station where the racketeer depends. To avoid these steps, the driver negotiates and ends up giving the police officer 1500 SLR. It is one of the scourges of Sri Lanka, corruption and abuse of power by civil servants.

There are so many police on the roads that we wonder if a quarter of the population is not in the police, another quarter are Buddhist monks, another quarter in the army. A quarter of normal people remain.

We wanted to see the Sangupiddy bridge. Sanka doesn't know. Like many drivers, this is only the second time in his career that he has gone to Jaffna!!! So what can they show to tourists in this area? We stop at a bridge, small but steep. No one seems to know about Sangupiddy bridge, people say it was destroyed by an explosion. Meeting with a Muslim family. We learned later that we were on the Sangupiddy bridge. Maybe we are the only ones who know...

Overnight in Dayanithi Guesthouse (rate 9000 SLR BB), nice villa outside, very poor inside. Very simple and small room, very poor furnitures. Far from everything. They don't serve meals. Need to go in town by car if we want to eat. Nice team, but rates too expensive for the confort and location.

  1. Puce Day 03 Friday 25/08/23 Jaffna

  2. Puce visit Jaffna Market. It was nice to see the awakening town, bit people look so sad...We expected to try Modakam (mothakam Jaffna sweet dish) as the bridge nobody knows ! 

  3. Puce Then we spend the day on the road going from Charity Beach to Point Pedro, Varatharaja Perumal temple, Dambakola Patuna Kovil, Keerimalai Naguleswaram Kovil, with hot water springs close to the ocean, simple pool for local tourists, KKS beach and his luxury hotel run by the army, Tobaco plantations, Fishermen village and then Point Pedro.

We tried to visit the Prabbakaran family's house (Vampady lane). it was authorized until recently, it is now prohibited by the army, for fear that it would revive a movement which is not really extinct.

Jaffna is disappointing when visiting South India, its population is much less welcoming than the Tamils of South India. But we can understand...

  1. Puce Day 04 Saturday 26/08/23 Jaffna - Mihintale 

  2. - We had to find a new hotel for the Mihintale stage. Black and White was not correct. Sanka suggested one, dear. We suggested another one, he doesn't like it because he doesn't have a free room for the driver. Finally he suggested calling the owner of Black and White (a friend of his) and asking him to give us a room in front of the pool for 8000 SLR BB. Mangala accepted.

  3. - Road to Mihintale, where we arrive in the middle of the afternoon. Sanka suggests taking a nap or enjoying the swimming pool before going to see the sunset on the meditation rock (Aradhana Gala). A group of excited men, apparently V.I.P. given the presence of military personnel at the entrance, noisy, drinking alcohol, listening to loud music, invaded the pool. There was no question of going swimming or resting.

  4. Puce Visit the Rock Monastery for sunset. CRowdy, lot of people. It's Saturday. The queue to climb the meditation rock is impressive. Although some seem to adopt the opportunistic behaviors of Westerners (especially when driving their big cars), we are always surprised to see how much better educated and more respectful people are than the French.

The monkeys are very aggressive and attack anyone who carries a plastic bag. Pilgrim buses are decorated like Christmas trees or perahera elephants. Then visit Rock monastery for sunset. Pilgrim buses decorated like Christmas trees or perahera elephants

  1. Puce  Overnight in Black & White. We get a room in front of the pool. Best quality, but no TV. The cables are cut and hanging on the wall. Mangala comme to see us and apologize. Mangala is a nice man but his young team is a little "olé olé". He confirm the room will be 8000 SLR for us.

  2. Puce Day 05 Sunday 27/08/23 Mihintale - Manewa - Sigiriya

When it was time to pay, the young person at the reception gave me a bill for 10 000 SLR, while Mangala had agreed for 8,000 SLR. He said normallly the rate is 13 000 SLR, but he made a discount for local agency. Sanka rushed to reception and threatened to call the owner. The bill comes down to 8000 SLR. 

  1. Puce Road to Manewa : we wanted to discover Chena Farms and village, very old Sri Lankan traditional farming, a model of permaculture, biodiversity, without chemicals. A model for the planet rescue.

Traditional farmers in Sri Lanka practiced many rituals, religious and spiritual. For example, farmers believed that the person who started growing a Chena must be free from impurities, called "Kili" in the Sinhalese language. It was also customary for Chena cultivators to pray before starting their crops. A strong affinity with astrology also ensured that cultivation began on an auspicious day and time. Green vegetables, cereals, legumes were grown in a Chena. Unlike rice cultivation, the Chenas do not use the same plot of land repeatedly. Instead, they rotate plots, which gives time for the soil and forest to regenerate. It was also a collective approach for Chena farmers on a plot of land chosen to avoid the rampant clearing of land by individual farmers.

Chena was cultivated collectively; each village consisted of a Chena and each villager received a share. Before creating a Chena, a forest area is cleared and burned. Chena being a rainfed cultivation method, the seeds are sown a few days before the rain.

Chena cultivation is protected from birds and animals using a pambaya (scarecrow) and a takeya (rough metal object that produces loud sounds). A danduvata or wooden fence is installed around the chena and farmers sit in watch huts (Pela) to protect the crops.

On the main road to Dambulla, long and dusty road to Manewa. All the fields are dry because of the exceptional heatwave.  We met some farmers contact: T.B Gnanawathi  070 232 5389 - Manewa Ipalogama.

All are desperate for different reasons: 

  1. - With the heatwave, nothing grew, so no income. Most are forced to go to work in the city to have enough to support their families.

  2. - When some greenery grows, especially banana trees, suggar canes, cabbadges, their fields and gardens are destroyed by wild elephants.

  3. - The government does not help them unless they agree to grew single-cut GMO corn, which goes against their agricultural values.

  4. - Their children want to live in the modern world and refuse to do a job that doesn't earn a lot of money.

  5. - and of course, they do not benefit from tourism and its benefits!

We share some rare vegetable and fruit seeds for the day when the rain returns. They gave us papaya seed and margosa(neem) seeds.

In a few years, like the Zaï of Yacouba Savadogo in Burkina Fasso, the Chena farms will have disappeared.

Globalization and the greed it produces will have eliminated everything that can save the planet and humanity, destroying in 50 years what it took men centuries to build. The new generations have not understood that the future is built on wisdom and experience and not in a laboratory, even less in a bank . Too bad.

  1. Puce On the advice of a farmer, we visit an Ayurvedic doctor, practicing in the aera, renowned for repairing bones and fractures. People come to consult him from all over the island. You can meet him, talk with him, attend his consultations. People call him "Weda Niwasa", the welder.

Contact: Dr. R.M. G.G. Disanayaka, Dampalassagama, Maradankadawala, 071 250 8235

His waiting room is full of cripples whom his assistants treat with plants, bandages and bamboo splints.

  1. Puce On the road to Dambulla we wanted to visit again a small monastery that we love for its pretty setting: Sri Wanasinthe Rajamaha Vihara in Galkiriyagama, a few kilometers from Madatugama. Luckily the main road was under construction, so we had to take a small dirt road which runs alongside a canal and beautiful villages. Children bathe, adults wash clothes, all life is organized around this canal. Beautiful landscape. Looking like "backwaters" in sourth India.

  2. Puce Overnight in Goddess Garden. One of the best hotels encountered in Sri Lanka in this category, at a very low price 8500 SLR BB. The team is very welcoming, the rooms are luxurious, with private balconies. Very quiet place close to a lake, little bit far from tourism hysteria. Swimming pool is under construction, which could have an impact on future rates. An address to remember.

  3. Puce Day 06 Monday 28/08/23 Sigiriya

  4. Puce We try to find elephant bathing in the river to wash them with maout. No elephant bathing. The place where this takes place in Sigiriya is very touristy, (cafe, bar, parking), very different from the inner small river after the bridge in Habarana.

  5. Puce We wanted to visit again a weaving cooperative, Namalpura Handloom Village project, created by the government to help women in the region.

On the road we pick up a teacher who is going to her school. Her husband died after being bitten by a snake, her 15 year old daughter has cancer. What a karma !

6 years ago, all the handlooms were busy, around twenty women were working. Today there are only three women working, because the others no longer want to come because the income does not allow their family to survive. It will be closed soon.

  1. Puce On the road, short stop to discover a rice mill. Equiped with modern equipment, a couple grinds the rice of all the people in the aera. Some come with 1kg to 10 kilos for their personal consumption, others bring their entire production to sell. The rice is either simply removed from its husk, or ground into flour, or crushed.

  2. Puce Sanka suggests meeting a fairly exceptional carpenter-sculptor. We had already met one with Eranda on the from East coast to Kandt. We don't get the address. An old man who made all the woodwork of a monastery.  Both are interesting and talented.

Deepal lives with his family in "the jungle", a small house among tall trees. A very welcoming family. He works different types of wood, from teak to ebony, either to make art objects or to make furniture to order. We discover that a special license is required to transport certain type of wood.

And that wood represents 3/4 of the price of manufactured objects. When we were there he was making a cabinet of great beauty.

ContactK.M Deepal Jayasinghe, 130/1 Maha Kimbissa, Sigiriya  tel + 94 74 274 1589

or + 94 71 231 1589.

Deepal is educated, friendly, passionate. He works with his wife, listen Baila music, which we had already heard in the Kafir village, a mixture of Sinhalese lyrics and Caribbean rhythm., sometimes looking like Maloya or Sega rhytm from Indian Ocean.

We discover Clarans Wijewardama, Desmond Silva, two renowned Sinhalese Baila singers of the last century. Nice music.

This is the kind of family you could do a deal with by offering a family lunch. It would be an opportunity to meet very interesting people and it would allow them to have a little extra income.

Location: On the road from Sigiriya to Habarana, take a small road on the right indicating the Ali Adi lodge and Sigiriya Cottage, it's at the end of this road.

  1. Puce On the road back to the hotel we discover tobacco fields. We inquire whether Sri Lanka manufactures cigarettes or cigars. Apparently all tobacco is exported to India.

We meet farmers who grow eggplants and tomatoes. We take this opportunity to share the old and rare tomato seeds and melon seeds we have. The exchange takes place around a fresh coconut juice.  The day before they were attacked by wild elephants who ate all their bananas.

We discover that outside of Chena farms, many farmers use "dangerous" chemicals either to fertilize or insecticides and fungicides. When walking in the plantation, the farmer protected my arms so that my skin did not touch the leaves full of products. My skin risked being burned by the chimical !  I imagine what this can do to people who consume it every day!!!

  1. Puce Overnight in Goddess Garden

  1. Puce  Day 07 Tuesday 29/08/23  Sigiriya - Kandy   

  2. Puce On the road to Kandy, stop to visit the large fruit and vegetable market in Dambulla. Dambula is the island's pantry. Most of the plants and fruits sold and consumed in Sri Lanka pass through Dambulla where producers, wholesalers, traders and shopkeepers meet. Tons of fruits and vegetables arrive to be bought and sold in an impressive ballet of trucks, day and night. I sell, I buy, I speculate: it's worth seeing at least once. The purchasing power of most Sri Lankans is at stake here .

  3. Puce In Matale, we take a small road which passes by Ukuwela, because we love its landscape, its small white stuppa in the middle of the very green rice fields. We stop at a small farm to buy nutmeg. An old couple was happy to sell and take some money. 1500 SLR for 20 nutmegs.

  4. Puce Arrived in Kandy we are looking for families who make traditional drums of different shapes, for different Sri Lankan music and dance groups.

A few kilometers from Kandy, there is a village where dozens of families specialize in the production of these drums. We observe that as with traditional farmers, no one wants to learn or take up the making of these drums. When the last craftsman has disappeared, these traditional drums will disappear unless China takes up the torch !

We meet the family of Prasanna Wijekamara, 120, Kooregala, Hodiya Deniya, 

Contact : 07 77 43 2077.

Prasanna, who learned the trade from his father who learned it from his father, removes the bark manually from the pre-cut trunks, then with his gigantic wood lathe, he hollows them out, and sculpts the exterior with sharp gouges. Women tan cowhides.

Piyarathna finishes the drums and adjusts the sound. Observing it is fascinating. He is inhabited by sound, he searches for the right sound and when he finds it, he seems overwhelmed with the pleasure of having achieved his objective.

Almost all types of drums used in Sri Lanka, depending on the groups, festivals, ethnicities are made here: the Gata Béra (Beraya) or Kandian drum, a double-sided drum which is played with one hand, the Mridangam, of Indian origin which is played with two hands, the Yak Béra or Low country drum, double-sided played with two hands on one side, the double-sided Daula played with one hand on one side and with a stick on the other side, the Thammátama double drum which is worn as a belt and played with sticks, the Udákkiya in the shape of an hourglass which is played with one hand while the other hand varies the sound by stretching the skin, the Hand Răbāna which is a tambourine. The majority of these percussions can be seen during the different Perahera.

A Gata Bera style drum is sold for 10,000 rupees (€30). Wood and other costs cost 7500 rupees. Prasanna earns 2,500 rupees (€7.50) per drum. In Kandy shops they are sold for 30,000 rupees, or even more.

The women make miniature replicas of these drums representing the 6 different main drums used in Sri Lanka. Real quality works of art, which they sell for 4000 SLR for 6 different pieces. 4 times cheaper than in tourist stores. Nadia bought some as gifts for her colleagues.

  1. Puce A few kilometers away is another curiosity, also destined to disappear: Diyatharippu  

Contact :  C.G. Gunasoma + 94 77 025 5693  n°104/A Kahambe - Pilimathalawa.

Gunasoma makes glasses from rock crystal. He cuts crystal slices which he polishes until he obtains the desired shape and correction. Then he adapts the lenses to the frames. He is helped by his wife who lubricates the crystal during polishing. The ideal is to come with a prescription from an ophthalmologist. If you don't have one, he tests your vision until he finds the correct correction. He learned the trade from his father who learned it from his father. Apart from his son who learned the technique and who does not wish to take over from his father, no one is interested in this technique. After equipping the Queen of England during her visit to Sri Lanka, with Gunasoma a centuries-old art will die. Creating glasses requires a high level of training and skill to transform a beryl gemstone into a fully functional vision correction device.

A pair of 15,000 SLR rimless lenses, a pair of 25,000 SLR frame lenses. It takes 5 full days to make a pair of glasses. We gave him frames and boxes of glasses that we had collected in France.

  1. Puce  We tried to find a Sesath workshop 071 074 4246, apparently it no longer works.

  2. Puce Overnight in Kandy Holiday Home. A pleasant, quiet hotel, with a certain charm, a little far from the city center and its perahera.

A few years ago a young team ran this place from the reception to the restaurant. Today the hotel is run by only one man, Darshana, contact : 072 348 8416  who takes care of everything: cleaning, recording reservations when there are any, reception, preparing breakfasts...

While the Sri Lankan owner lives in Switzerland he entrusts the management of the hotel to an indolent man (Ranjit) based in Kandy, who does not respond or respond too late to booking requests to the point of seeing cancellations accumulate. A local agency considers him incapable of managing a hotel.We saw the review.  Too bad, it's a nice place with an attractive price.

  1. Puce Day 08 Wednesday 30/08/23 Kandy - Inginiyagala  

We change the driver. Kapila provides the second part. We will realize later that we should have kept Sanka. and get Kapila for the second part.

  1. -Road to inginiyagala.

  2. Puce On the way, Kapila suggests visiting Heeloya village. Good road, very beautiful landscape.

The prettiest rice terraces we encountered in Sri Lanka. No machines here, everything is done by hand. It was cloudy. With a little sun it would be perfect. There are farms everywhere.

Several times before departure and after, Kapila suggested doing a day of activities in Heeloya. He suggests having breakfast and lunch with a local, then trekking, for 11,500 SLR per person. Finding it expensive and not having much time, we refused.

When we arrive at the highest point of the village with a magnificent view point, while we were taking photos, Kapila calls a lady on the phone. This lady arrives, made us sit for barely 10 seconds in an apparently communal room. She accompanied us for 10 minutes on a path through the forest showing plants that we have known for a long time: coffee trees, vanilla, pepper, cocoa trees, etc.

Back to the village, the lady offers us a tea. Kapila then says "you're supposed to tip" and suggests 1,000 SLR. He explains that it is a government project to help the villagers. Let the tourists come and pay....Tourism business!!!

A tip for what ? We did not ask for guidance, she guided nothing. If you come to my house, I don't expect a tip for a cup of tea!

Otherwise, as I introduce drivers to a lot of places they don't know about, I can also expect a tip or a discount.

She had some nutmeg drying on the floor, I suggested buying some, so she would get money for a good reason. She has a big farm, lots of land...poor, needs help! Blah blah blah....

Apart from the commercial side it is a good idea to bring tourists to this point of view, the landscape is really magnificent, but without a guide. Villagers can open a hut and sell tea or fresh water if they want to earn some money.

  1. - Arriving late in Inginiyagala. Kapila didn't book for boat safari next day as I requested.

He said "we'll see when arriving". Arriving late, the Wild Life Office is closed. We go to the main office. Somebody still there. The morning safari is overbooked. Second time this has happened to us!!!  Each time because of an indolent driver.  They will call us if cancelling.

We'll never come back to this place.

We inquire at the guesthouse about this safari, they have a private boat for the safari. We were supposed to see elephants swimming (crossing) from one island to another. It's a myth, it rarely happens. The safari involves cruising along the banks observing crocodiles, one elephant and some deer eating grass. Nothing is more exciting than the safari in the Pottuvil lagoon. That's a bit of a comfort, but it doesn't take away from the incompetence of some drivers.

  1. Puce Overnight in Charitha Rest; + 94 71 453 0970 , n° 112 stores Road Inginiyagala, 6900 SLR BB. A nice Guesthouse in a nice village. Dhammika Saman, the father, manages the guesthouse with his son Charitha, Anusha the mother is an astrologer and spiritual guide, she consults most of people in the aera. The daughter Chamatka is studying. A decent price for decent accommodation.

  1. Puce Day 09 Thursday 31/08/23 Inginiyagala - Maruthamunai - Pottuvil by the coast

  2. Puce Morning boat safari in Senamayaka Samudraya, missed and canceled. 

  3. - On the road to the coast we observed many wild elephants, in the fields and in the plantations. It's a real calamity.We also observe that in the east and south of the country, practically all ponds and small rivers are infested with crocodiles, even outside nature reserves.

  4. Puce On the way to Pottuvil, we wanted to say hello to our friends (Hafeel family) who run a Handloom weaving in Maruthamunai. We bought them a lot of nice sarongs. It was a great welcome, they called all the family to meet us.

It was a big shock for us: all the handlooms in the area stopped. There is no more work, because raw materials imported from India have become too expensive, since Covid and inflation (speculation) and because the country prefers to import industrial sarongs from India. Hafeel sold his handlooms. He no longer has a job. Only Latheef - + 94 77 723 4312 - is still working, for how long ? They don't get any help. the only help they have comes from their community.

After meeting and speaking with several tour drivers, we discovered that during COVID, many drivers have been helped financially by former clients. Today we see that many people who work in tourism inflate their prices to cope with inflation, but also to earn more money.

This is not the case for most Sri Lankans who do not have the means to cope with or escape from inflation. In all towns and villages, many shops are closed, many farms are abandoned. Many people live on help from family or friends, often making just one meal a day, while the government lines its pockets.

Religious duty obliges, the monks seem to have suffered less from shortages than the population.

As in most countries (even in France) where the population is subject to austerity constraints by a wealthy elite, people turn to religion and gambling (lottery, trifecta, etc.)

The deeper we go, the more we realize how lucky we were to have known Sri Lanka before.

  1. -Then Drive to Pottuvil.

  2. Puce Overnight in Saneepa. 8000 SLR BB What change ! The interior looks like a small museum of traditional Sri Lankan objects, very interesting. We are the only guests apart from 3 tourist drivers who rent rooms. Anton is no longer there; he is replaced by a young man who does not speak English but cooks well. The exterior decoration is special: Nikson decorated the exterior walls with bomshells and military helmets. This is not a very good idea for a hotel.

  3. Puce Day 10 Friday 01/09/23 Pottuvil  

  4. Puce Kumana morning safari, with Jagath, jeep driver. Jeep 13 000 SLR, Park entrance fees and taxes 13000 SLR for nothing, nothing, nothing, except peacocks, crocodiles, one poor elephant, some deers and monkey. Like in India in tigers reserves, the driver stop the car: " listen monkey alarm call leopard is coming". But like the tiger, it never come. Monkey alarm call even became a joke between us.

A couple of French tourists we met in Haputale said same. It will be the last time in Kumana national Park. We saw more wild elephants in the rice fields and gardens on the road than in the park. We definitely think that Yale is the best one, although it is not worth the safaris in Africa.

  1. Puce After safari, we went to Okanda Murugan Devalaya, and Kudumbigala Monastery . Nice place to see, but we have to go fast, because they are in the park aera and the jeep driver is in a hurry to come back for next afternoon clients.

In each temple Kapila said "your are expected to give a donation". Each time I heard this, in my head rings the introduction to Pink Floyd's album Money. Feeling like we are being taken for a walking wallet.

There are enough Sri Lankans who earn a lot of money to donate. Unfortunately these are not the ones who give.

  1. Puce Overnight in Saneepa.The shock. Nikson come to meet us. He want to talk to me.

He said I booked the room in May, but since May the cost of life rise up in Sri Lanka. He said he first asked 8000 SLR BB, but now he has to ask us 12 000 SLR. He showed me his elecrticity bill as a proof. What a ripoff !  I answer no.  He tried to use the driver to convince me. No.

He do same with the driver. Kapila has a small room whit no window, no private bathroom, and have to pay 3500 SLR. The 3 others drivers who are in tourist room with AC, Fan and private bathroom paid 2500 SLR.  Sorry NIkson,  Saneepa will be the last time. I feel cheated.

  1. Puce  Day 11 Saturday 02/09/23 Pottuvil - Moneragala - Tissamaharama 

  2. - Kapila was expected to find a rubber plantation and latex factory. He didn't search.

We met a rubber plantation by chance on the way to Tissamaharama, close to Moneragala. Some women just finished to harvest the latex, it was too late. They work here every day, but early morning. If we had been there earlier, we would have witnessed the harvest, the weighing and the density measurement.

  1. - Stop in a small shop to buy some fruits and vegables. Have a talk with K.M Premawathi, who works alone to make live all the family. Her husband is sick. Like most women who run roadside shops, they are often the only source of income for the family. Apart from rare exceptions where they provide additional income.

It's not about feeling sorry for yourself, but about discovering a country outside of its bling bling sides. This sometimes puts things in their place, and allows us to approach a reality that many people ignore or pretend to ignore. The visit is more complete and inspires more respect than if we were there only to surf, hike or see whales or elephants.

  1. Puce On the road from Buttala to Tissa, we met three elephant as usual. We stop few minutes close to one. I talk with him. Generaly I am very scared with elephant and don't like to linger. Not this time. I feel very quiet. He came slowly to me and I gave him some fruits by the window directly in his trunk. He wait a little and we do again, friendly. Nadia tought some pictures because she can't believe it.

  2. Puce Then we went to Situlpawa Monestery. Lot of stairs. Lot of rain. The vue on Yale park is nice, but with a little sun it will be better. New meeting with two elephants, very friendly, it's a good day.

  3. Puce As on each of our trips, we wanted to go to Kataragama at Maha Devale for the evening poja. It's still so nice. Many things have changed, particularly in terms of facilities and sidewalks. It's always the same atmosphere, the same vibrations. There are always families who share their offerings with us. What faith...

  4. - We change a little our plan. Instead of staying two nights in Tissa, we will go one night in Haputale

  5. Puce Overnight in a unexpected guesthouse. La Safari Inn. + 94 71 186 0042. We choose it because of low rate and nice pictures on the web. Incredible, it's a real little paradise. Magnificent guesthouse in a large garden. The owners, Chandi and Ranjit are very kind and humble. The deluxe room 6000 SLR BB. Rooms are large, very clean with AC Fan and Mosquito net. The bathroom is very pleasant. The meals are excellent and varied at very reasonable prices.

They provide comfortable rooms for driver in the neighborhood for 1500 SLR. They have their own jeep for safaris, and go through an entrance where there are few tourists. We can rent the jeep privately or accept other passengers, which lowers the price. The price includes the jeep, picnic breakfast, entry fees to the park and taxes. A real good address to remember.

  1. Puce  Day 12 Sunday 03/09/23 Tissamaharama - Hambantota - Haputale

  2. Puce We wanted to see Kirinda again, Kapila finds it a big detour because we have a long drive to Haputale. Missed.

  3. Puce On the road to Haputale, we go to Hambantota to buy some Kalu Dodol in the family we used.

Contact: M.N.S. NIzamiya, n° 13 Jail STreet, Hambantota 077 897 1717. As in the Hafeel's family, they were happy y to meet us again. The daughter Sharfa is now married, she was here, but she lives in Colombo. We bought some Kalu Dodoll, the driver too.

  1. - On the road, we stop to taste a curd with Kitul. What a treat. The old couple, Priyalatha and Dayananda who sells this buffalo yogurt are desperate. Since the construction of the expressway, fewer and fewer people use the coastal road. They have fewer and fewer customers and therefore less and less income. The lady also makes very beautiful palmyra weaving baskets.

071 89 90 979

  1. - Crossing Tanamalwila, a town known for its cannabis cultivation and trafficking.

  2. Puce We stop at the end of Thelulla Colony in a small roadside restaurant run by Endika to taste a Belimal herbal tea. Very pleasant infusion of dried flowers known for intestinal disorders. Flowers of the Beal or Maja (aegle marmelos), a small thorny tree introduced by the English, whose fruits are edible. We tested the fruit, not great. Endika was a plumber. He wanted to change his life. He built his house and a small restaurant out of earth, with a floor made of cow excrement like in the old days. It's very rustic but modern and beautiful at the same time. He stops work every day at 5 p.m. to be there for his children. Great man.

We discover an original piece of music: MS Fernando - Galkisse Hotale Langa. Hilarious.

  1. Puce Before arriving in Haputale, we discover a waterfall that resembles Ravana Falls, with fewer crowds of tourists: Diyaluma Falls, the third highest waterfall in the country.

  2. - Kapila stops at a small local restaurant where he thinks the food would be good. There is nothing to eat apart from some not very appetizing roasts. Too bad

  3. - We tried to find a small restaurant we met in 2019, which sold tasty samosa, vadda. The New Russe Hotel, 19 Dambatanna road. He does not exist anymore. Same with the New Paradise, 9 Main Street, which made succulent egg hoppers. Is it another Covid blow?

  4. Puce Overnight in Leisure Mount View, very pleasant meeting with Hashan and his family. A quality hotel located on top of a tea plantation. Heavy rain, freezing wind, lot of mist. It’s 17°.

We were frozen. Everything was wet. Never saw Haputale like this. Hashan has set up a vegetable garden and cultivates organic vegetables which will be consumed in the hotel restaurant. We give him seeds from our famous old tomatoes. A new room has been built on the roof, it is very large with a huge bay window. Lounge area and kitchen area.

  1. Puce  Day 13 Monday 04/09/23 Haputale - Belilhuloya (Seelogama)

  2. - We expected to go to Lipton Seat to meet some tea pickers, a lot of questions to ask them. But the weather was not good to go there. The fog was too thick sometimes accompanied by rain.

  3. - Hashan takes us to a small Hindu temple for a blessing ritual. This confirms what we discovered: many Sri Lankans Buddhist practice poja and Hindu rituals at the same time. Often to ask for help or the fulfillment of a wish from the deities.

  4. - On the road to Belilhuloya, we stop at a small roadside store. Tired of spicy rice & curry and vegetable fried rice, we sometimes buy vegetables to make large salads in the evening (tomatoes, cucumber, onions, avocado, etc.) and fresh fruit. This sometimes gives us the opportunity to cook with our hosts (Saneepa, Belpeack). The driver seems to enjoy our salads which he garnishes with raw lady fingers. This is how we met Dayani 071 053 4047, in his shop with whom we talked a lot about the difficulties of earning enough money to support a family.

It was because of COVID, today it is mainly because of the speculation that we call inflation because it goes better, to justify an increase in sales prices, rarely in production. There are days when she can't afford avocados or passion fruit because they are too expensive. Who increases prices, the farmers or the middlemen? It’s always the same people who pocket! My grandfather said “it’s Toddy the little ones we’re spoiling.

  1. - We arrive at the guesthouse early in the afternoon. As there are no tourists, R.M.K. Dayas, the old guard, asks if he can accompany us on our visits to change a little from his loneliness.

  2. Puce We had to see the Pelmadulla Tampita, Kapila refused saying it was too far. Missed

  3. Puce We planned to visit a large cinnamon farm, with a well-made website and cinnamon-related activities: Gadimallahena Cinnamon Estate - Balangoda + 94 77 706 6203. 

The young owner Thisina Bandara is waiting to guide us on a scooter. His plantation is immense: 35,000 cinnamon plants.

Because of heavy rains, everything is stopped. There is no activity.

Unlike other cinnamon producers, we find that during drying, "legal" chemicals are added to prevent mold. For us it's not interesting cinnamon. We remember Indian spices contaminated with preservatives banned in Europe.

  1. Puce We wanted to see the Seelogama terrace paddy fields . In the rain, it's not very interesting and in terms of the nice photos, those of Heeloiya are much more photogenic. Perhaps in good weather and by taking a short hike inside the rice fields the views would be more interesting.

  2. Puce We planed to visit the Uggal Aluth Nuwara Katharagama Devalaya Hindu temple in Imbulpe. A temple with particular architecture, historically important, with a jack tree (Kos Ruppaya) several hundred years old at the front. This temple organizes a perahera every year which is third in importance after Kandy and Kataragama. According to written history, this temple was first built in 1382 by King Suriya. The current devalaya complex and its associated buildings were erected in 1582 by a king called Yapa Maharaja, 200 years after the original was built. King Yapa is said to have made a vow to the Jack Tree to build a new resort and town on the site if he wins the war against the Portuguese. 

At the end of the tour, the driver said "we are supposed to make a donation". Pink Floyd again.

  1. - We listen another famous cingalese singer. He is muslim but he sings buddhist songs better than buddhist : Mohibeen Beig (Baig or Beg) -  Buddan Saranan Gachchami.

We will discover in Wadduwa that this is the song that the monks sing at the end of the day, during the call to prayer as the muezzins do for Muslims.

  1. Puce Overnight in Belpeack Cottage - Delilhuloya - + 94 77 663 3182. Another guesthouse which belongs to an owner who lives in Colombo and rents his villa to make ends meet or pay off loans. An ordinary villa, in a garden, far from everything. Two bedrooms and a dormitory outside.

Like most guesthouses of this type, the price is very high for quality and ultra-simple comfort.

9300 SLR BB.  Dayas has the honesty to deduct the advance made by Eranda from 3000 SLR.

In the evening we prepare a salad with Dayas who is overflowing with kindness. The driver eats the salad and has rice prepared.

Having seen what we wanted to see and the price of the guesthouse being a little bit hight, we changed our plan and will return to Haputale next night, much cheaper and more comfortable.

  1. Puce Day 14 Tuesday 05/09/23  Belilhuloya - Haputale

  2. - Road to Haputale. New stop to Dayani small shop to buy fruits.Today she is happy, the avocados have gone down, she will be able to buy some for her store.

  3. Puce On the road the driver suggests seeing Pahantudawa Fall. A dangerous waterfall to approach because you have to balance on slippery rocks and in case of heavy rain you could be swept away by the torrent.

No one goes to see this waterfall, apart a few kids who drowned in it. She became very famous because a Sri Lankan couple made a sex tape which was distributed on social networks. Since then people have wanted to see the waterfall of lovers !!!

  1. Puce Just before this waterfall, a superb modern and comfortable hotel, far from everything, with impressive rooms from 6500 SLR BB to 7500 SLR BB for family. It's called Citrine. 077 278 9965/ 076 526 1950. The owner is a gem merchant in Ratnapura, hence the name Citrine.

  2. - Meeting with S.G. Wijerathna, a farmer who carries a huge jackfruit on his back. He will share it with his neighbors. All our meetings give rise to exchanges lasting a few minutes or more to share moments of life.

  3. - We stop at the Janaki Kalutharanthi shop 071 049 8254 to drink guava and lemon juices. As in India, Sri Lankans drink lightly salted citrus juices. Her husband works in Colombo. She rarely sees him, in addition to her two children, she shares with her sister the care of their disabled parents. Life is not always easy! We stayed in touch and exchanged messages on Whatsapp almost every day.

  4. - Very pleasant little country road, there is finally a little sun. The children come out of school, all in white uniforms. We arrive early in Haputale. the driver is happy to finish early to meet a friend.

Finding the price of accommodation at Balpitiya Monastery exaggerated, in comparison with other accommodations and not being sure that the money will be used for the orphanage, we decide to cancel and change our plan. Unable to contact Madu, we send an SMS.

  1. Puce Overnight in Leisure Mont View. Nothing change : mist, wind, heavy rain, and 17°

  2. Puce Day 15 Wednesday 06/09/23 supposed road Haputale - Godakawela  Palleba - Tangalle 

  3. - We leave Haputale and cross Ella. Everything has changed so much, a lot of bars and restaurants like Arugam Bay, Kuta in Bali, Ventian in Laos. The same restaurants with the with the same decor, the same rattan furniture, the same “fusion” music, the same beers, the same red bull and coca cola, the same pizzas, the same burgers, the same tik tok generation... Even the Ambiante hotel has changed, its Rasta manager has disappeared. Too bad...

  4. Puce Stop at Ravana Falls, lots of locals and foreigners, lots of monkeys. Western women in crop tops and mini shorts, their guys in Bermuda shorts, tank tops and flip-flops. Because it is hot in the tropics they confuse Hawaii  and Sri Lanka. Not having the means to play nomads in the Bahamas, they do so in the countries of South East Asia.

  5. Puce Later, we stop to meet tea pickers. Unlike the majority of tea pickers who are Tamil, these are Sri Lankan. Which is rare. They are having breakfast, we take the opportunity to chat a little.

When we talk about salary, it's often the driver who answers! But is he well informed ? Some of them understood a little English and were able to respond. They earn 1,000 SLR (€2.90) per day, 5 and a half days per week if they pick at least 25 kg of tea by day. If they do more, it can increase the salary (1,500 to 2,000 SLR). On the other hand, they have no interest in being absent or getting sick. They earn on average 60 to 80 euros per month. What a tourist driver asks for per day!

They will say that they do not have the same costs, nor the same constraints, but the workers also have a family to support, rent, electricity, gasoline for their motorcycle, children's studies to pay for. . The only difference is that the drivers depend on the tourist flow and can sometimes go a while without working. What they hide is that in times of high demand, they earn in one season, what workers earn in three years. With a little common sense, they can see it coming!

How do they think small budgets can afford trips to Sri Lanka ?

It is interesting to take a close look at what is included in a daily rate of 60 euros requested by drivers. Few people agree to share their accounts!

From time to time, they maintain the plantations, like today. Their husbands work as masons, plumbers, carpenters, laborers, often in the city. Agricultural workers and road workers earn 2,000 rupees per day, or around 120 euros per month. A bank employee, a supermarket salesman, a teacher earn between 200 and 300 euros per month, sometimes more in Colombo.

The disparity in salaries between men and women is significant.

- Stop in a horrible Ella Mount Heaven hotel, for the Ella Gap view point on the terrace ! without interest. It was better in Ambiante.

  1. Puce Stop at a small local restaurant to drink a Belimal herbal tea: 7 mill post Ella road Wellawaya contact: 077 427 6225. They offered us a grapefruit, as big as a football. In fact the skin is at least 5 cm thick. We wait an hour for the batter for hoppers to be ready to have some egg hoppers. This made me want to try it at home. Sugath shows me which pan I should buy.

We will go to a supermarket to find it.  Be careful, some pans only go on gas, and those that go on electric hobs are often too wide, 18 cm. This results in hoppers that are too flared. You must make sure to take a piece that is 16 cm.

Kapila did not take the route initially planned. We realized this when we missed the visits we had planned:

  1. Puce Ammaduwa Devalaya Godakawela (Pelmadulla - Pallebedda road) Missed.

  2. Puce Koswetiya Sri Wimalaraya Pallebedda, missed.

On the road heavy rain, a lake overflowed and water invaded fields and road. People are knee-deep in water. Snakes  floting on the water. It was only after a 4 hours heavy rain. Imagine after 24 hours.

  1. - We reached Tangalle late, so we missed  Tangalle market.

  2. - When we contacted Kapila, we told him that we did not have accommodation in Tangalle. He replied that it was not a problem, he knows a lot of accommodation in Tangalle. We'll see on site.

Arriving there late, he suggests Villa Livye. We call from the car to see if there is room available, a woman answers in French. 13000 SLR BB. It's a bit expensive, but it's late and we're tired, we don't want to turn around Tangalle to look for something else.

  1. Puce We came in Tangalle because we wanted to go to Rekawa Beach for a night observation of turtles. We asked to the driver to contact them to know if it is ok or not. He didn't do.

He explain that it is not the good period for turtles observation, that there are one guide for 30 tourists etc...So we let's give up. Iginiyagala, Rekawa, Kumana, same song !

Turtles by night in Rekana Turtle Watch Rekawa, Rekawa road (near Buckingham Place Hotel & Spa )  

Sinhala, limited English:+94714112627 (same Whatsapp) English only:  +94713803472 (same Whatsapp) Missed.

  1. Puce Overnight in Villa Lyvie, hotel which calls itself Ayurvedic, route Mailagahena Purana Rajamaha Vihara - Goyambokka - Tangalle 070 558 8890. Beautiful villa with a lovely garden and swimming pool. Beautiful decoration. Beautiful bedroom and bathroom.

Everything is arranged with care, without being more comfortable than Goddess Garden in Sigirya.

On the Ayurvedic side, a doctor and a therapist trained in Ayurveda intervene. All treatments are very expensive (Parisian prices), with the obligation to do at least 8 massages and to accept other treatments!

It works in packages, each more expensive than the other. Here Ayurveda is more of a wellness course for “bobos”, far from the philosophy and art of living specific to Ayurveda.

Ayurveda is not limited to consultations, massages, infusions or contortions. It is a way of living, of breathing, of eating, of being in connection with the universe, others and oneself.

Behind a “new age” speech we see a well-established marketing strategy. As in many hotels in South East Asia, well-being has become a big business.

The owner is a French businesswoman. More commercial than hotel keeper, although she knows how to make the place attractive. She knows how to sell her stuff. But she talks so much that something sounds wrong.

For example, we were looking for quality spices and noticed that she sells spices that she says are quality. We ask her where she finds them, she replies that we have to ask Lyvie. We thought he was an associate. The next day while visiting the hotel we learned that Lyvie is a 10 year old niece who lives in France. When she gives the address of the store where she says she finds quality spices, we realize that it is a Cargill!

  1. Puce  Day 16 Thursday 07/09/23 Tangalle - Ambalangoda - Bentota

  2. - After breakfast, when paying for the room, the price increased from 13,000 SLR to 16,000 SLR in one night. When booking from the car, with the phone on speakerphone, three of us heard the price of 13,000 SLR BB. This woman is so special that I didn't find it worth discussing. This confirms our impression of the day before. This is the third time this has happened in 2 weeks. Each time with people whose only objective is to make money. It's normal for people to earn money, but not by cheating, by scamming, by bullshit!

  3. Puce We discover that there is a handweaving cooperative not far away, a government project to help women, we will see, hoping that there is more work than in Namalpura.

Contact: Ruhunu Ransalu Center SitinaMaluwa, Beliyatha - 091 22 344 79 / 047 22 56 146 Manager Ira Nishanthi 077 62 59 9168. Around ten women work on old handlooms to make magnificent sarees. You can buy sarees and sarongs directly on site. On the side of the main road, a sign clearly indicates the location.

- Then Coastal road to Bentota. Why Bentota ? Because Kapila think it is better to have a step here.

  1. Puce In Dickwella, we had to see women who practice Beelaru lace weaving. We had no phone number or address. Kapila was supposed to search, he didn't. He still thinks we'll see there. He asks people on the street. Nobody knows what it is. We read that the lace makers are part of a lace house called Beelaru Randa.

A man on the street said he knows and offers to accompany us to show us the way. We drove 40 minutes on a small country road to arrive in a remote village. He says it's there. A woman brings a plant mat in very poor condition. She makes poor quality palmyra weaving. That's not what we're looking for. We saw better palmyra weaving close to Tissamaharama. Neither the man nor Kapila seem to have understood what we are looking for. It takes us 40 minutes to get back on the main road, disappointed. Missed

  1. Puce We were supposed to visit the Sunandaramaya Maha vihara in Ambalangoda. Kapila leads us to Deeralankara Damma temple saying it is there. We noticed that it didn't look like the one we were looking for. He says “it’s written on the sign” (we can’t read Sinhalese). We have already seen the Sunandaramaya Maha vihara in 2015 it was under repair and we wanted to see it finished. It is a very beautiful temple and monastery, with good vibes.  missed

  2. Puce We were supposed to visit a traditional Masks work shop and museum. Too late. Missed

  3. Puce We were supposed to visit the Bandu Wijesuriya Dance Academy, + 94 91 91 225 8948, depending of their program. Kapila was supposed to call them to inquire at what time the dance classes are. He didn't do. Missed

We wanted to see a family that grows and extracts cinnamon in a traditional way, a family that carves masks, a family that makes ropes from coconut fiber. Kapila called at the last minute an acquaintance supposed to know the area who accompanied us into the countryside to do a few visits.- The driver called at the last minute an acquaintance supposed to knows the aera and who accompanied us far into the countryside to make some visits.

  1. Puce For the production of coconut fiber ropes, he takes us to a large factory! We refuse to visit the factory saying that it is a traditional family method that we are looking for. Missed

  2. Puce He takes us to a semi-artisanal cinnamon workshop. Workers peel cinnamon sticks in a dark room, while another makes cinnamon oil with a still. The workers did not know the quality of the cinnamon they are processing, saying that it is the buyers who determine the quality of the cinnamon. They only sell to wholesalers.

  3. Puce He takes us to a sculptor who is just starting his work, he has a few objects. Very few masks and not very beautiful. Nothing to do with those that can be seen in Ambalangoda. He says he will open a store soon. We wonder with what! Missed

  4. Puce We booked the hotel Canal Villa the day before. When we reached the hotel à 06:30 pm, everything was closed. No light, nobody. The driver called the owner who came 15 minutes later.

We wanted to go away and find an hotel not too expensive.

  1. Puce We stopped in front of a hotel where there was light. We called the number posted on the sign at the side of the road. There are still rooms available at the "normal" price.

Overnight in Rockery Villa - Galle road, Alavathugoda, Bentota + 94 34 22 700 97 nice place, nice garden with a pool, basic room but correct, breakfast a little bit short. 9500 SLR BB. The waiter forgot to bring tea.

  1. Puce  Day 17 Friday 08/09/23  Balapitiya - Wadduwa 

Since we barely did anything that was planned the day before, we asked to go back. Kapila doesn't want to go back too far, probably because he has to return home to Kandy not too late after dropping us off at Wadduwa. So no return to Ambalangoda.

  1. Puce We just go to Balapitiya to see Balpitiya Purana Vihara. Nice temple, nice monastery with a style so different. A man tried to impose himself as a guide, we ignored him. He left.

The vihara is also known as Nayaka Pansala, it served as the headquarters of the Mulahandi sect of Amapura Nikaya. The interior of the temple resembles Dickwella Wewurukannala with many life-size scenes from the life of Buddha. A monk came and sat down at the entrance to the temple. As we got out, the driver said "you're supposed to donate." Pink Floyd again.

I remind him that we are not here to support the monks. It's funny because on several occasions he told us that he didn't like monks because they took too much advantage of people's gullibility.

Next to the temple, the discourse hall resembles a church. The front facade as well as the doors and windows of the room are inspired by the architecture of colonial churches. Inside the hall, two wooden staircases on both sides lead to a balcony which circles the inner hall. On the upper part of the facade is a British insignia with a date reading 2414, the Buddhist year.

Inside, three boys are undergoing school training to prepare to become monks. Like most Sri Lankan children, they learn Sinhalese, English and Tamil.

  1. Puce Before leaving Balpitiya, we ask to visit a cinnamon seller that we had known in 2019, he produces and exports quality cinnamon. G.D. De Silva & sons Uragaha road, Diggoda waththa, Ahungala - +94 77 736 9330. The owner remembers us. There are not many foreigners who come there. The number of employees has doubled.

We buy 500 gr of grade 5 + cinnamon, the best quality after Alba. 4560 SLR (13€)

Kapila says we paid too much. Nadia answer that he did not help us find cheaper. In France, 15 grams of untreated medium quality grade 4 (Madagascar) cinnamon costs between 6 and 8 euros, or 200 to 260 euros for 500 grams, 15 times more expensive.... Some drivers really lack information.

Along the way, we looked for small masks that we were supposed to buy in Ambalangoda where there are plenty and of good quality. We found 3 of them in a bazard, not very beautiful or in good condition.

We reached Wadduwa in the early afternoon

  1. Puce Overnight in Little Villa Wadduwa run by Chitra And Kalu, good and real friends of us.

+ 94 77 228 9601 Heavy Rain.

  1. Puce Day 18 Saturday 09/09/23 Wadduwa 

  2. Puce Day 19 Sunday 10/09/23 Wadduwa

The vegetable garden is now huge. Kalu produces all the vegetables, fruits and rice they need. He distributes part to family and neighbors. We meet lots of family members including Chitra's mother (103 years old)

We visit houses, land for sale. Most in very poor condition. Although very spread out, Wadduwa could be a pleasant village to live in, provided you avoid certain neighborhoods.

  1. Puce Kalu shows us the village life, the market, the artisans. He took us to a family that makes traditional coconut fiber ropes, contact ; Nayan Kumara n° 53/1 Pondahha Mulla West, - 076 431 2798 . Several famlies do the same work in this street, a road which runs alongside the railway after the station.

We find gestures encountered in South India. As coir ropes are less sought, they also manufacture on the same principle, silver plastic ropes that people buy to fence their fields or gardens.

We have been to the rice mill  - Sanka Grinding Mill - run by an old man H.M. Perera contact : 0 38 229 6457. Kalu brought some rice from his garden to make the flour needed for the egg hoppers. Chitra taught me how to make egg hoppers, and I taught her how to make a real Neapolitan Pizza

Kalu took us to see the fishermen, who leave in the morning on fragile boats violently shaken by the waves. He took us to meet the men who harvest the toddi by walking on coconut fiber ropes stretched between the palm trees. We visited land and houses for sale for the day....

  1. Puce Day 20 (Monday 11/09/23) Leave around  09:30 pm to the airport, checkin at 12:00 pm

Tuesday (12/09/23) Boardind and take off 03:00 am

Our feeling :

After reading the odometers of both vehicles, we covered 1972 km from Colombo to Wadduwa.

We ate only in small local restaurants with meals between 150 and 400 rupees per person (0.44 to 1.16 euros). Why pay 1400 SLR for a vegetable fried rice in a guest house or more in hotel when you can have the same thing for 400 SLR at the restaurant next door.

It was a very enriching, very profound and at the same time a little disappointing journey.

  1. - Enriching because we were able to touch the Sri Lankan reality a little closer, because we met lots of interesting people with whom we took the time to discuss, to understand better.

  2. - Enriching because we were able to see people, traditions, gestures that future generations may no longer see.

  3. - Enriching because this time again we were able to discover a culture that deserves to be known and protected.

  4. - Enriching because we feel good in this country that attracts us. But will this appeal to us for much longer? - Enriching because everything we have seen brings us back to ourselves, to our own questions, to our place in the world.

  5. - Disappointing because the disappearance of a country's traditions and values is a sign that something is wrong in this world.

  6. -Disappointing because we regret what happened with Eranda. We don't understand why this got out of hand. Misinterpreted email exchanges on both sides ?

  7. -Disappointing because as is the case in many countries, too much tourism kills tourism.

Contrary to what is often said, it is not mass tourism that is dangerous, large tourist buses only pass through, often superficially, they rarely leave indelible traces. For example, they generally eat in their hotels where they are served international buffets, sometimes with a local speciality.

On the other hand, generations Y and Z, fed on the internet and social networks, are doing real damage to the culture, traditions and authenticity of a country.

Because of “influencers”, scouts of globalization in search of likes and easy income, destinations are promoted “in place to be”. It’s true that they no longer see themselves as tourists, but as “digital nomads”! Teleworking and selfies predominate.

Hence a concentration of individuals generally addicted to their digital tablet and their iPhones, to their burger, to their pizza, to their red bul, to their physical and narcissistic performances (selfies), sometimes to their "herbs", in places that will never be the same again.

Whether you are in Mirissa, Hikkaduwa, Ella, Arugam Bay, you will find the same restaurants with the same decor, the same music, the same food, the same activities, the same "drunken and smoky" parties as in Kuta, Ventiane, Ubud, Hoi An, Sapa, Goa, Phuket or Ko Samui etc...

With a limited social and food culture, they export their way of living rather than temporarily adopting a new one, imposing their habits on the countries they colonize.

We have seen a lot of small local restaurants (those that existed and those that are in the making) transform into ersatz McDonald's,Pizza Huts and others BBQ. Local youth, loyal to their parents' values, end up finding pizza, burgers attractive and rave parties exciting.

- Disappointing because we see that young driver guides who have a good reputation, with many positive reviews and many customers end up being overwhelmed by the fever of the business. Passion gives way to performance, they seek to satisfy customers in order to have a good opinion and in turn increase their customer base. Sharing the magic of the country seems less of a priority than getting good reviews. Some prices are becoming indecent in comparison with the country's standard of living. We are not in France or Paris!!!

  1. Puce Sanka, our first driver was efficient, we did almost everything we planned. He inquires beforehand to find the places or people we want to see. He was friendly, considerate, respectful. He sought to make us discover things that we had not anticipated.

We have two little criticisms to make to him:

- He did not attempt to repair the vehicle's air conditioning while we were in the middle of a heatwave

  1. - He's a bit opportunistic: if we hadn't said anything, he might have had his meals paid for throughout the trip.

  2. - Every time we give something to someone, they ask us for the same thing for themselves. For example, when I shared vegetable seeds with farmers, he asked for some for himself. When Nadia offered perfume samples to the women she met, he asked for some for his daughter or his wife. He likes to find out what we have programmed to retrieve contacts for his other clients.

  3. - Apart from these two complaints, Sanka is an interesting driver and guide to do a program, even off-track in Sri Lanka. He is someone we recommend.

  1. Puce Kapila, The second driver is friendly, modern, cool. Maybe too cool !

He is so kind and friendly that one can hardly blame him. His kindness + the magic of Sri Lanka makes you forget the rest. How can you criticize someone who is so nice?

And yet, despite his kindness:

  1. - He is indolent: he takes his time, does not try to anticipate. He will see on the spot, and if nothing happens, it's not his fault, it's because we're expecting things that don't exist or that no one knows.

Initially we gave him the excuse that he only had our project 4 days before our arrival, which didn't give him a lot of time to plan.

But Sanka also had our project 4 days before our arrival, he had practically everything organized.

With cool customers, Kapila is quite lax. He doesn't worry, he takes his time. He believes that if we keep smiling it is because we must be satisfied.

He is a procrastinator, someone who puts off “we’ll see” until later.

Someone who waits until the last minute or leaves it to chance. Without ever worrying.

  1. - Result: unlike Sanka with whom we did everything we planned, with Kapila we barely did a third of what we planned, because he didn't try.

  2. - He spends a lot of time on the phone. A little in the car, a lot at each stop. As he speaks in Sinhalese, they must not be foreign customers !  He watches cricket matches and videos! In the evening if he wants but not during work!

  3. - He likes when people tip and donate. We know that in Sri Lanka it was traditional to leave tips and donations everywhere and for anything. We have noticed that fewer and fewer Sri Lankans are tipping.

As for donations, these are generally offerings that people make to obtain or thank the fulfillment of a wish. It is also a form of “consensual racketeering” practiced by Buddhist monks and Hindu Brahmins. Knowing that they are necessarily maintained by the populations, even in times of crisis, people deprive themselves for the comfort of their religious. So why the foreigners?

Some drivers like to say that it is part of Sri Lankan culture. How can we explain that Sri Lankans who travel do not tip or donate when they visit another country and sometimes their own? Culture and values stop at the airport and the border of their city?

We give easily, sometimes too easily, when we think it is necessary and we are free to do so. Sri Lanka does not have a monopoly on solidarity which would rather tend to become a myth.

  1. - He is the most expensive driver I have encountered during my tourism career, except in USA. He initially asked for 70 euros per day. He agreed to negotiate on certain conditions.

  2. - He insists that we put a reviw on social networks. Although he didn't ruin our vacation, he did nothing to honor our schedule. Not wishing to harm him, we will not publish a review on a public site, but we will not recommend it.

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