I am this kind of person that keeps both feet  on the ground and can realistically account the reality. I do not smile to every single person that I meet or scream enthusiastically “oh!, ah!” at the sight of any tourist attraction or native man and when I return  I do not tell that everybody were great and wonderful. It is not like this. However, Sri Lanka has changed my perception of the world and re-valued  my present life.

First of all, I was delighted by the nature, architecture and people I was also interested by its stunning history.  Ceylon has the shape of tear that flows down from India and this island drawn away approximately about 50 kilometre. The Indian Tamils has always desired for this island. The ethnic war, which lasted almost 40 years, between Tamils settled in the northern  areas since the immemorial times and Sinhalese people that form the majority on the island, seemed to be endless. During my three-month stay in Colombo I got used to the view of the barricaded consisted of sandbags on the roads and in the streets, behind which protruded the gun barrels to control the rucksack at the entrance of the shops and temples or the military strolling along the beach in full gear in spite of the intense heat. I stopped to pay attention to the battleships  set across the ocean, from which the army  through the huge telescope was observing people on the beach in order to select from that crowd the terrorist, who belong to the organization of the Tamil Tigers. When I was leaving Sri Lanka, there was no longer the army in the streets, no one stopped our tuk-tuk to verify the documents. Sri Lanka was finally free and ready for the new development, which had been stopped for the long time of the civil war.

Now this island can benefits and develops from tourism, because each place is a part of the Sri Lanka’s history with admirable buildings, uncommon wildlife and it offers extraordinary attractions for a stranger. For instance the Portuguese city Galle that is located on the southern of Ceylon, later taken over by the Dutch, will definitely charm everyone. While sitting on the walls of Galle Fort you can meditate on the  beauty and destiny of this place.  In the area of Hikkaduwa you can be delighted by the fishermen dressed in colourful sarongs that are sitting on the breakwaters and fishing. Kandy – a city located in the central, mountainous  part of the island is a kind of shelter from the omnipresent heat and at the same time it impresses with its beauty, next to that place there is The Temple of the Tooth Relic, which is a sacred place for the residents of Sri Lanka. Tourists are eager to go there during the feast Esala Perahera, when in solemn procession with dancers, musicians, Buddhist monks and specially dressed elephants, the Buddha Tooth is taken out of the temple and on the back of an elephant is driven around the whole city. Such an amazing spectacle is unknown for Europeans.  Further on the north there are the historical cities: Polonnaruwa, and further away,  Anuradhaura the oldest capital of the Sri Lanka that was founded in 437 p.n.e. I was really impressed by a mountain Sigiriya and its history. There are also curious details about turtles in Kasgoda, Pinnawela, elephants orphanage, tea plantations in Nuwara Elija. In short I can say that such a small island has so many attractions, more precisely I describe those places in my book titled “A tear in the Pacific-Sri-Lanka”.

Nevertheless, I must admit that the most I was interested in the common way of life of residents. I was surprised by the strong belief of Sinhalese in the Buddhist, the time they spend on it and the importance of celebrating the holidays connected with this religion, the worship of the Buddha in every free moment. They stop at the stupas and at homes have their own altars of Buddha, at which they stop very often so that to put a flower, or improve the napkin, leave a little part of the meal or stay there for a moment with folded hands in order to talk with Buddha. The stoic calm of Asians certainly comes from the Buddhist faith. Most of residents of Sri Lanka leads very modest life, which is caused by the political and economic situation of the country. The only variation for them is celebration and visiting Buddhist and Hindu temples.

I have not see there any theatres, cinemas, cafés, pubs, discos and as regards the restaurants, they can be find in the area of the higher range hotels. Once I founded a bistro I stood shocked in the street and only after a while I was able to believe what I had seen.  It happens in Colombo, near Thai embassy, where I was walking for the visa allowing the further journey. People that were in love were dating upon a high wall, near the Beira Lake, which separates them from the busy streets in Colombo and in different places, for instance: on the beach or in the courtyards of temples. The main place where old and young inhabitants  gather were just the temples with beautiful, splashed with flowers and green courtyards, in the centre of which is necessarily a sacred tree – Bo.

In their everyday life Sri Lankans are just like another people inhabiting Earth, which means they are different. They can be kind and smiling, but not always and not from morning to evening. They are tolerant as far as the faith and sexual orientation is concerned (Buddhists, Hindus, Islamists and Catholics live in harmony with each other). They believe that Buddha looks favourably on all kinds of love, if only it brings happiness to people and not harm others. Apart from that, they  are curious about the other parts of the World that do not know. Outside their country the most feasible for them are Maldives. Some of them go there to work, but they say that the Maldives are rather boring because there is nothing except some hotels and beaches and all this they also have at home. (It is still worth to pay a visit to the Maldives because this place will soon disappear under the water). During those few months on the island I lived in Mount Lavinia, at home of a young Pole, who was so captivated by the country and people of Sri Lanka that he decided to stay here forever. He works as a tourist guide and is really happy that he choose this place to live, but this is completely different story, which I described in my book.


Photo © Zofia Małecka



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