Since the Tamil Tigers surrendered and the Sri Lankan war ended, Sri Lanka is a nation on the move.
On arrival at Colombo, a new airport greets visitors – a facility loaded with tourists and transit passengers, courtesy of the national airline's efforts to turn the country into a regional air hub. Then there's the new (toll) highway from the airport to Colombo city, symbolic of the tremendous improvements in road infrastructure of the last few years.
The tourism industry is also participating in the country's rejuvenation.
During my visit in January 2015, I visited a pristine beach area in the Western Mannar District of Western Sri Lanka. The Indian Ocean coastal district was contested by the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan Army during the country's 26 years long civil war. Due to the conflict, people moved away from vast areas in the country creating 'green zones' into which tropical flora and fauna naturally migrated.
|A flowing stream near our guest house - where many locals swam and bathed|
I stayed in a 'shack' less than one hundred meters from a spectacular beach. Green jungle surrounded us everywhere. There were few human residents and certainly no tourist hotels in the vicinity.
Each morning I awoke to birds chirping. In the early morning stupor of half sleep, it felt as if the birds were hovering only a few inches away from me. In the nearby jungle were peacocks in the wild and monkeys shaking trees to get at breakfast.
Apparently, our camp was even visited by a family of wild elephants on the first night. Somehow, I slept through the ruckus created by exploding firecrackers lit to drive the unwanted guests away!
|My 'bedroom' at the hut. Note the invaluable mosquito net above my concrete bed.|
The entire stay was unrivaled by anything I have experienced hitherto. Though there was one small irritant – or shall I say many small irritants? Mosquitoes!
I have never genuinely been afraid of dengue fever or malaria … until I reached our 'camp.' With the number of mosquitoes buzzing around, I came to appreciate the power of the small (female?!) disease carrying insects buzzing around like kamikaze fighter aircraft! (Clearly, early explorers of deep, dark tropical jungles in Africa and Asia were crazily brave people, venturing into such zones without mosquito repellent lotion is nothing short of crazy!)
For a city boy more at home inside a subway train than a jungle, Sri Lanka always provides energizing and new experiences (despite the mosquitoes!). Now that peace has taken hold, I anticipate more unique travel adventures in Sri Lanka during the coming years!