Travel to me has always been an adventure,fun and a learning process. Travel by air may be quick and easy. By train could be filled with knowledge gathered through conversation with friendly fellow passengers but if it is by road; it could be possibly, the best way to know the country, its people and their way of life. My travel to SriLanka was one such experience. It was well planned by car. The route was through almost the entire country which I scheduled to be covered in about ten days with a day and a night rest at major towns. I had prepared myself with a map and would at times while driving check on Google if I was on the right route.
Sri Lanka is a naturally beautiful country. I would possibly not liked it as much as I did, had I traveled by train or bus, though that would have been more economical. Buses in Srilanka are not that comfortable and most of the time are crowded. Trains are crowded too and travel by first class though helps on comfort, does lag when it comes to accessibility to remote towns or villages or when internal transport at the places of interest were required. The Tuk Tuk could be of help but then they become expensive when you would not know your way. Traveling by car, therefore though a luxury gave me my most wanted independence, to do what I wished, wanted or chose to do, at my own time and pace but within the parameters of my planned schedule. I was therefore often able to stop at places which was not on my list of halts but which was of sudden interest. I did step out to sip tea or home made buttermilk in roadside stalls, go around markets and even had the opportunity to try out food in the many restaurants or hotels.
I at times parked my car under the shade of a tree or beside a waterfront, to watch the sunrise or sunset, I was able to experience the natural landscape and study the people going about their chores. I could even chat with them whenever I got the opportunity.
Thus traveling into places haunted by the war torn past, my preconceptions vanished and my eyes were opened to many hidden incidents, more stories of bravery, torture, sacrifice and facts. The more I mingled with the people and understood their life, I felt their love and passion, that they had for their homeland. I learned to respect their every feeling whether it be compassion, hate, agony or ecstasy. Srilankans whether it be Tamils or Sinhalese are simple people, very helpful and ones who loved life as well as ones who valued freedom and peace for the sake of their children.
Traveling through the forest and tea estates in the midlands, I learned about the luxuries of the Kings, their colonial masters and a culture set among the greenest parts of the island. The jungle routes were always interesting and the coastal highways or even the country roads led to places were the natives enjoyed their geography. I came across many coastal towns crowded with tourists,who were mostly European or from the far eastern countries. They were here to enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving or to voyage upon trawlers to watch whales, dolphins or to allow sunlight tan their skin.
The Jungle offered safari rides to see my childhood passion to run behind animals or enjoy the wild side of my character merge with the hardness of the landscape come true. The walk through broken down palaces and battered fort walls, spoke about the history of the past many centuries while the scary remains portrayed ambitions, pride, prejudice, betrayal, vengeance, defeat or victory. It raised questions as to why conquests or annihilation of the defeated could not ultimately yield peace.
The temples, stupas, relics and religious practices opened my eyes into the life of the variety of cultures, their Gods, beliefs, myths, more stories and their search for paradise.My drive through this wonderful country led me to discover the bountiful wealth of the sea. I witnessed fishing, strolled through fish markets , roadside dried fish stalls and got to taste native curry, soup, fries, barbecues, of fresh as well as dried fish based culinary. I had occasions to sit under the shade of trees while eating sandwiches, drinking my beers or while sipping the sweet water from tender coconuts.
My trip around the island was comprehensive, yet I could not for one reason or other make it complete. This land is full of everything and I must admit I did miss out many beautiful things. The beauty that is SriLanka is so very romantic and it keeps enticing me. I guess there are going to be no more misses in the future, if only you can understand what I mean.
Months have gone by but my memoirs of Srilanka has not faded. May be if you visited this emerald island you too would listen to your heartbeat and hear it ticking Miss it, Miss not, miss it, miss not. Miss….not.