Tea and travel as veteran Aussie scribe enjoys all the delights of Sri Lanka!

Getting old is not everyone’s cup of tea, but there are compensations—like time to travel and see a world you were too busy weaving life’s rich tapestry to take much notice of.

So it’s doubly appropriate that veteran traveller Phil Hawkes has found time to visit Sri Lanka, land of Ceylon tea, and write a piece for Go55s, the magazine and website for ‘active oldies’ in Australia.

Phil’s trip is in part thanks to the visit by Pledge Holidays’s senior manager Shalindra Henegamage to Australia last year to spread the word about Sri Lanka’s boundless attractions.

Not just here for the cricket.

‘More and more Aussies arriving’

Says Shalindra: “Since a roadshow we did in Australia last year we’ve seen more and more Aussies arriving in our country, and not just for cricket tournaments.

“People want to experience our culture, our history, our sightseeing and of course our food. And they’re looking for a change from more familiar destinations”.

‘Sri Lanka has so much to offer’

‘He’s right!’

Says Phil: “He’s right! Sri Lanka has so much to offer, from its coastal attractions to the hill country packed with everything from tea plantations to ancient cultural sites and wildlife parks.

“And now, access is much easier thanks to Air Asia connections to Colombo via Kuala Lumpur, where a stopover on the way home is good for last-minute shopping.”

The hills are alive with tea bushes

Hill country

‘The hills are alive’ with tea bushes covering the mountain landscape as far as the eye can see. Tea tasting is on the agenda here with a visit to a factory; followed by a night or two at a British institution, the Grand Hotel which hasn’t changed much in 150 years except for the addition of air conditioning, not really needed in the cool climate.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress

The central region

Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya are must-visits, the former for its Buddhist rock carvings and the latter, a massive rock with a 5th century palace/fortress on the top which you can see in its well-preserved glory by climbing a mere 1,200 steps.

Yala has the world’s largest concentration of leopards roaming free.

National parks and wildlife

There are several places you can go for a safari-type experience to see elephants in the wild; and Yala has the world’s largest concentration of leopards roaming free.

The Owl and the Pussycat

Galle and the southern coast

This is where you can really relax for a few days at a stylish resort like the quirky boutique Owl & The Pussycat Hotel, just 10 km. from the old Dutch Fort area.



The capital is the logical place to do some last minute shopping for jewellery (sapphires in particular) and handicrafts before flying out…and an incomparable experience awaits at the venerable Galle Face Hotel.

Getting there

The easiest (and cheapest) way from Australia is on Air Asia X to Colombo via Kuala Lumpur. Try their Premium Flat Bed Class which is really good value if you have trouble sleeping sitting up on aircraft, and you’ll also be able to use their transit lounge in KL with free wifi, food and soft drinks (beer is extra).

Read more here.

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