Mirror UK travel correspondent Nigel Thompson writes that “Sri Lanka is a gem of an island where the friendly people are just one highlight in a holiday that offers an extraordinary amount of things to see and do.”

He adds: “Our Sri Lanka getaway had delivered on so many levels and with so many sights we’d treasure—and in excess of 1,000 photos between us. But the fondest memory is the delightful people on this gem of an island.

“If you meet nicer, more welcoming and friendly folk, please let me know.”

Nigel and his wife were enjoying a whistle-stop tour of the island that included leopard-spotting in Yala National Park, the elephant orphanage near Udawalawe National Park, and some great hotel stays.

They included the three-star Chandrika in Tissamaharama and “the entirely excellent Vivanta by Taj hotel in Bentota, on the southwest coast, 40 miles from the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo”.

Nigel was especially struck by the latter’s Palms restaurant, which “does a fine buffet with the array of Sri Lankan curries a real standout, whereas the Sea View (it was dark, so no sea view) delivered a succulent steak. But our favourite was the Oriental Chinese with its fabulous, spicy, sizzling platters”.

Other highlights included a visit to the award-winning Handunugoda tea estate near Galle “famed for its rare virgin white tea, based on an ancient Chinese tradition where the emperor employed virgins, wearing silk gloves and using gold scissors to cut the leaves into a gold bowl.

“A strict process was then followed to produce a brew untouched by human hand until it reached the lips of the drinker and which was (and still is) considered particularly beneficial thanks to its high levels of antioxidants.”

The next day, he and his wife “managed to raise ourselves from our sunloungers to walk into the local town, Bentota, and Aluthgama beyond.

“Then, for reasons we never really understood, we carried on walking the four miles in broiling heat and humidity to the Kande Viharaya Buddhist temple.”

Read the full report here.


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