SRI LANKANS: MAKING A complete stranger feel like household

Updated: 8/2/20 | August 2nd, 2020

I didn’t understand much about Sri Lanka before my visit. a lot of of what I understood was chosen up by means of the news as well as a few blog articles written by friends. Sri Lanka was a blank slate I was excited to fill in.

I discovered Sri Lanka to be a nation of luscious jungles, legendary waterfalls, sensational hikes, tomb Raider-esque archeological ruins, unattractive cities, as well as tasty food.

But the one thing that truly stood out was the people.

I know, I know. What a cliché, right?!

It’s the most generic thing to state in travel. “The people in this destination were charming as well as absolutely made the place.”

Everyone always states that.

Sure, you’ll discover that some cultures truly are a lot more outgoing as well as friendlier to strangers than others.

But Sri Lankans stood out in a method I’ve never experienced before.

They are the first, second, third, as well as fourth things that come to mind when I keep in mind my time in their country. I was surprised at exactly how friendly, curious, as well as hospitable people were.

As a traveler, although you want to be available to experiences with everyone, you likewise have to keep a wary eye out in buy to make sure you aren’t getting scammed or put in a hazardous situation. There’s a great deal of “gut-checking” on the road.

Take, for example, tuk-tuk drivers. having spent a great deal of time in Southeast Asia, I’m utilized to taking care of tuk-tuk motorists who badger you for a trip as well as regularly try to rip you off or take you to shops where they get kickbacks if you make a purchase.

In contrast, throughout Sri Lanka, I discovered tuk-tuk motorist after tuk-tuk motorist would sluggish down, ask if I desired a ride, as well as then, when I stated no, desire me a great day as well as drive off. No badgering! (OK, a small bit in Colombo, however that was moderate when compared to other countries.)

Moreover, I discovered the tuk-tuk motorists to be sincere brokers, providing me rates close to what guesthouse owners stated they must be. (I never believed I would utilize the term “honest” as well as “tuk-tuk drivers” in the exact same sentence.)

Then there were the locals who would technique me near a vacationer site or on the street. After years of travel, my preliminary believed when this occurs is usually: “Here is yet somebody else trying to offer me something.”

As they started asking me about where I was from as well as exactly how I liked their country, I was expecting them to get into “the sell,” however instead was shocked that they would then just desire me well as well as walk away.

Is this a trick? I thought.

Nope, they were just thinking about my experience of their country. It caught me off guard the very first couple of times but, after a while, I relished each chance to satisfy somebody new. every day there would be many interactions with people just delighted to engage with a traveler.

There was the household I stayed with outside Sigiriya who often cooked me a standard household dinner as well as supplied me with rides into town when none might be found.

And there was the lady who had the hostel in Kandy as well as provided me a huge hug as well as a kiss as well as told me to find back…after staying only one night! (She likewise did this to the other guests who were inspecting out when I was.)

There was the excursion motorist in Tissa who insisted on taking me out for beers to celebrate seeing a whole herd of elephants.

Friendly locals I satisfied on the buses used me food. One person who felt so sorry that I had to stand up for six hours said, “I would provide you my seat however I have a infant in my arms. I’m truly sorry.” as well as he indicated it. He truly was sorry he couldn’t provide me his seat. I mean, exactly how lots of people would make that exact same offer in the US?

But there was one experience that taught me the most about Sri Lanka as well as its people.

Before I arrived, I exchanged emails with a woman who worked in Colombo; her daddy was a Tamil journalist during the civil war as well as is now a member of parliament. “L” told me that she would be heading as much as Jaffna to see her household as well as that I was welcome to join. I instantly stated indeed as well as altered my travel plans. This was a possibility to satisfy some locals as well as get an insider point of view on the dispute that scarred the country for decades.

Sri Lanka is a split country, with the south dominated by Buddhist Sinhalese as well as the north by Hindu Tamils. After the British left the country in 1948, the Sinhalese managed the government as well as enacted a series of legislations that restricted Tamil involvement in Sri Lankan society. Eventually, Tamil protests turned fierce as well as a 26-year civil war ensued (ending in 2009).

Waking up early one day, I satisfied L as well as hermom as well as we drove to Jaffna, the major town in the Tamil north as well as the scene of a great deal of damage during the civil war. In the countryside, I couldn’t assist however notice exactly how barren the land was. There was bit lawn around, as well as lots of homes had been abandoned as well as delegated ruins. At different areas along the way, they explained that this once-fertile land was destroyed during the war as well as that lots of Tamils fled. (In fact, in spite of the war being long over, there are still over 90,000 displaced Tamils in refugee camps.)

“Are those people over there rebuilding the houses?” I asked.

“That’s the army building homes however most likely not for Tamils.”

“How come this area hasn’t been rebuilt?”

“Well, lots of people have left or were killed, as well as those who stay don’t have the money. Plus, a great deal of the records were destroyed, so not lots of people can verify their home is truly theirs.”

I persisted with my litany of questions. “How come this area seems so underdeveloped compared to the rest? Hasn’t there been a plan to rebuild?”

“The scars of the war are still here. For close to 30 years, we didn’t have gain access to to the outside world, as well as no, the government isn’t truly putting funds into development. We have an uneasy truce.”

Afterward, we went to L’s family’s newspaper, Uthayan, where we waited for the editor. This newspaper was the only Tamil news organization to make it through the war. The government tried to shut it down lots of times, however it handled to online on. In the primary room, you might see bullet holes from attacks, ruined computers, as well as graphic photos of the journalists who lost their lives in paramilitary attacks. There was a wall devoted to those who are missing — as well as most likely dead.

“Are things much better now?” I asked the editor.

“Sure. The battling has stopped, however that doesn’t indicate whatever is normal. It is still the exact same armed forces leaders as well as government officials in power. however things are moving in the ideal direction.”

“Did you support the Tigers?” I asked him, broaching the topic head-on. The Tamil Tigers were a trainee organization that turned from resistance fighters to terrorist group. Their defeat was what assisted end the civil war.

“The Tigers may have started with great intentions but, in the end, they ended up being as poor as the government as well as alienated the population they sought to support. So, no, I did not.”

L as well as the editor provided me a excursion of the newspaper, showing a lot more relics of raids, introducing me to personnel as well as editors who likewise worked throughout the war. The building, like the land we saw before, bore the scars of war. It was an eye-opening experience seeing the area as well as discovering about the dispute as well as exactly how it still impacts the people of the region.

***
As I took the bus to the flight terminal as well as got prepared to leave Sri Lanka, my mind kept going back to its people. regardless of where I was as well as who I spoke to, I was welcomed with open arms, treated as household as well as with kindness.

Sri Lanka was much better than I might have pictured it. Not since of all the gorgeous sites as well as fun activities however since the people made a complete stranger feel at home.

Book Your trip to Sri Lanka: Logistical ideas as well as Tricks
Book Your Flight
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You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the greatest stock as well as finest deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, utilize Booking.com as they consistently return the least expensive rates for guesthouses as well as inexpensive hotels.

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Want a lot more info on Sri Lanka?
Be sure to go to our robust destination guide on Sri Lanka for even a lot more planning tips!

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