I know that today that is neither unique nor uncommon – however it is something that I didn’t properly appreciate growing up.
The food is outstanding. You may dine on a traditional Sri Lankan meal of rice and curry that has been made with the locals special blend of exotic spices. I personally like to sometimes substitute the rice for a delicious alternative “carb” like hoppers, string hoppers or roti. There really is food for everyone – even a wimp like me who has never tolerated spices or chilli. The world seems very small when you get to Sri Lanka and realise that most delicacies have made their way into the country and been given an amazing twist.
The flights to the country are just the right length to give you a decent amount of time to sleep or watch a couple of movies and then stopover in (my preferred route) Singapore – where the world’s best airport keeps you occupied without having to spend a cent.
Yes – it is very easy to see why Sri Lanka was voted Lonely Planet’s 2019 top travel destination.
But what has compelled me to write – what I’m sure is starting to sound like a paid review, which it is not – is that I was in Sri Lanka at the time of the Easter Attacks. It was horrid, unexpected and above all else – sad. Sad for those who lost their lives and their loved ones. That sadness can never be removed and the lives of those taken must be honoured.
That honour must ONLY go to the lives lost, not to the attack itself – for that attack was not reflective of either the country, its people, the current climate or even the political situation in the country. The attacks surprised everyone. They didn’t make sense…. and they still don’t. But sense can never be made from random acts of evil.
However, what was equally important to me at the time – though not covered at all by the world’s media – was that the country’s response to the attacks was absolutely amazing. The security levels kicked in almost immediately – in a way that only a country that had overcome a civil war could activate. The freedom to move around as normal was only restricted at times of well thought-out curfews – that kept people indoors at night until the state of emergency of the country was under control. There was not a moment in and through the whole situation that I ever felt unsafe or concerned… and this is coming from someone who was in a Christian church service at the time of the attacks and was scheduled to lunch at the Shangri-La straight after.
Yes, airport security was a little more exhaustive but no more than travel to New York, London or Paris has been or still is and just like those Western cities, visits to places that could be possible targets for anything have had ramped up security. Yes, introduced as a result of the attack, but more in place because of a world we now live in.
So it surprises me to hear that one month on from those attacks, while the situation in the country is back to normal – back to the way it was when it was awarded that glorious honour of #1 Travel Destination in the World – that travel to this spectacular island has halted. What’s even sadder is that given how important the travel industry is to the nation, this sudden and rapid decline is adversely affecting the lives of so much of the population – people who make their living welcoming and serving visitors from all over the world.
Written by Sarla Fernando
Principal Consultant – SAF Media Consulting.
Regular visitor to the Paradise Isle
Yes ,If you are thinking of visiting our paradise Island but have some concerns about the recent incidents that took place, please read our answers to some of your current most frequently asked questions