Sri Lanka, ‘a very special island that travelers from Sinbad to Marco Polo dreamed about’
“A very special island that travelers from Sinbad to Marco Polo dreamed about. A place where the contours of the land itself forms a kind of sinewy poetry.”
Thus travel writer and Los Angeles-based attorney Julie Kessler quotes our own wordsmith Romesh Gunesekera in the Honolulu Star Advertiser, after her whistle-stop tour of Sri Lanka.
She adds: “This mango-shaped island nation of Sri Lanka has become South Asia’s symbol of rebirth … an intrepid traveler’s trifecta: rich culture and history, a plethora of flora and fauna, and pristine coastlines.”
She starts in the capital Colombo with a walking tour of the Fort area and its Colonial-era buildings, including the restored Old Dutch Hospital, with its restaurants and shops.
In the nearby Pettah bazaar “there are four main streets: textiles, flowers, bling and spices. It’s a crowded, colorful, commercial mecca in all of its chaos”.
And then a complete contrast—Wilpattu National Park “known for its leopards and sloth bears — we had several sightings of both from our open jeep — but also has a mind-boggling number of birds”.
Followed by the ancient cities of Anuradhapura, home to one of Buddhism’s holiest sites, the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, a holy tree said to have grown from part of the tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment.
On to Kandy and Polonnaruwa, one of Sri Lanka’s eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, and Sigiriya Lion Rock, the heart of the brief, fifth-century Kassapa kingdom.
And finally Galle, where “colonial-era churches, clock and bell towers, small shops and restaurants within thick walls make for an inviting stroll”.
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