Category Archives: People

Sri Lanka is Open for Business

Sri Lanka is Open for Business

Lanka4me.com along with other tour companies has seen a huge decrease in future bookings taken, due to the Sri Lankan government giving incomplete and inacurate press statements to the worldwide media.

We would like to assure all our current guests and future guests that the unrest, which was only in 2 very small villages on the outskirts of Kandy has dispersed and only lasted a few days. Even the main tourist destination of Kandy was not affected even though they had to tolerate a curfew.

Therefore Sri Lanka is SAFE and is OPEN FOR BUSINESS.

On the 6th March 2018 the Sri Lankan government issued the following statement:

“Sri Lanka has declared a state of emergency for 10 days”
A curfew was in place in the central district of Kandy, where crowds from the Buddhist Sinhala majority attacked a mosque, Muslim-owned shops and homes.
The authorities feared retaliation after a young Muslim man’s body was found in a burnt-out building. Tensions flared after the death of a Buddhist man who was said to have been beaten by some Muslims.
“Four mosques, 37 houses, 46 shops and 35 vehicles damaged in the small non tourist towns of Digana and Teldeniya (which are on the outskirts of Kandy) due to the mob attack,”

Social Media

Upon this same day the Sri Lankan government decided to block social media sites such as Faceboook, Whats App and Viber for a period of 72 hours in order to dull the amount of fake news being shared on social media and to halt the communication between the gangs, or rumours that instill a fear psychosis or a threat to communal harmony.

4 days later the Instant Messaging sites we reinstated but at the time of writing, which is 6 days later, Facebook is still blocked within Sri Lanka. Most users of smart phones have installed VPN’s in order to overcome this problem.

So Why Go To Sri Lanka? What’s So Great About It?

The people!

Don’t take our word for it, read a blog post from one of our recent guests who were staying in Hikkaduwa and travelled around the island, this month.

It started on the plane, we flew Sri Lankan Airways.

The cabin crew who greeted us were beautiful smiling ladies in peacock saris proudly displaying luscious, brown, rounded midriffs. You’ve got to love a nation that doesn’t need to hide it.

Sri Lankan women are spectacularly gorgeous, all glossy black wavy hair, tropical colours and lovely smiles furnished with amazing white teeth.

 

It doesn’t stop when you get off the plane. Wherever we go we are greeted by genuine, warm smiles, of greeting. Even the men do it.  After 4 hours on a local bus, with flu, I got off with a song in my heart and just one thought.

 

 

 ” These people are fantastic!!”

I have never seen such concern for strangers. Every time someone less able to stand boarded our bus, chairs would be shuffled. There was a hierarchy of seat-needyness. The elderly were immediately offered seats, so were mothers with babies or children, so were older, and then younger, women. It was a joy to see. If the young woman preferred to stand then a seated gentleman would take her bags on his lap. Total trust, nobody was worrying about theft at all. Call me old fashioned, but it was wonderful to see.

 

Manners aside, the buses themselves are a joy. Glittering lights and music turn every bus ride into a special occasion. No blaring techno or horrible elevator music, just lovely Sri Lankan tunes played at just the right volume to be enjoyable, even to us. Maybe the Sri Lankans are sick to death of the same tunes every day on their way to work, but we think it’s cool.
The bus drivers and conductors are friendly and helpful. They don’t try to rip us off, they take the correct money and tell us when to get off. Sometimes they will go out of their way to drop us exactly where we need to be dropped.

It’s Not Just The People

The natural environment is spectacular. Huge powerful waves pound the pristine shore. Dense rain forests appear just a few meters back from the coast road and there are the cool hill country tea plantations waiting for us to explore.
The wildlife is incredible, so much diversity! Leopards, elephants, ginormous monitor lizards, marine turtles, even blue whales.

 

It’s all here!

Sri Lanka is the only place I have ever seen a wild sea turtle laying her eggs on the shore. It was magical.

You have the co-existence of Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and Buddhist faiths, the historic buildings, temples, forts and markets. Sri Lanka is immensely rich in history and culture.
Then stop and consider the recent past. A war ( 80-100, 000 deaths ) and a tsunami  ( over 30,000 deaths) devastated this country in my living memory and still, these people are the friendliest and most welcoming that I can think of. I’ve travelled so wide and so far, and I really think that this is a good as it gets.

Jan Verspoor and family – The Netherlands – March 2018

Christmas in Sri Lanka

Christmas in Sri Lanka

Preparation for this great day begins weeks before, as in any other country. The festive sound or annoying sound of fireworks waking you up at dawn every morning of December is the first intimation that Christmas is round the corner.

Despite the fact that nearly 70% of population are practicing Buddhism while another 15% of people are Hindus, only a 7% of Sri Lanka’s population are Christians It is celebrated by Christians and shared by non-Christians in true Sri Lankan style.

It is said that the very first celebration of this festival was perhaps introduced to Sri Lanka (early known as Ceylon) by the Portuguese who ruled Lanka From 1505~1650.then the Dutch who ruled from 1658~1796 followed by British who ruled from 1815~1948.

The festivity spreads through all shopping centres all over the island. Even the small wayside boutiques in the heart of the country come out with their small festive décor. Homes are cleaned and painted, new clothes are bought or stitched and decorations are hung.

Hotels and commercial establishments are given a facelift around mid-November with seasonal decorations, and an interesting fact is the emerging trend of utilizing natural materials such as twigs, jute, leaves, etc, to create a natural but visually stunning Christmas ambiance.

The 25th of December is a public holiday and the midnight of 24th of December Cathedrals, Churches and little Chapels all over the island Christians attend “Midnight Mass”.

Christmas day finds people visiting relatives ,friends and neighbors to share with them the seasonal cake followed by a lavish spread of lunch or dinner.

Since Christmas is followed closely by the New Year sales. ‘Sale’ signs can be seen in almost all shops, with attractive price reductions being offered.

Spend Christmas in Sri Lanka

Should you opt for a tropical Christmas in Sri Lanka, you can be sure that it will be a most memorable one with all the trimmings of the festive season. Take your pick out of all the scenic locations Sri Lanka has to offer, and celebrate Christmas there. All Hotels indulge their guests with a fantastic Christmas spread, carols, dancing and other seasonal activities. It will be just like home but with a number of new experiences thrown in.

Contact us with your requirements and we will include them all and much more in your Sri Lanka tour package. In addition the New Year’s Eve dances in Sri Lanka are something special, so be prepared to party your way into the New Year in style!

Speaking with the locals

Speaking with the locals

Sinhalese  known natively as Sinhala is the native language of the Sinhalese people, who make up the largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka, numbering about 16 million.

Sinhalese is also spoken as a second language by other ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, totalling about four million. It belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages.

Sinhalese is written using the Sinhalese script, which is one of the Brahmic scripts, a descendant of the ancient Indian Brahmi script closely related to the Kadamba alphabet.

Sinhalese is one of the official and national languages of Sri Lanka. Sinhalese, along with Pali, played a major role in the development of Theravada Buddhist literature.

Here’s just a few words that you can use, that I’m sure will impress the locals:

  • Machang – mate (around the island you will come across a bar chain called Machang)
  • Aiyo – Oh No!
  • Lassanai – beautiful
  • Dickie – trunk of a car
  • Keling keling – straight on (very handy when you are in a tuktuk)
  • Wama – turn left
  • Dacuna – turn right
  • Colour lights – traffic lights
  • Slippers – flip flops
  • Paining – pain (for example: My arm is paining)
  • Hari hari – ok

Enjoy speaking to the locals, they will love your attempt!

4 Great Minds come together in Negombo

When four great minds come together they create something that is simply authentic, different and a total success.

That is what happened with a new bar and restaurant named Toro (which is Spanish for bull) ideally located opposite the Jetwing Sea hotel in Palagathura which is Negombo Beach North.

The four great minds are:

  • Krishan (the owner) who has many years experience as a local caterer and a chef. He worked at Rodeo for many years.
  • Chanaka (Head Chef) who was the Head Chef at Rodeo for over 20 years.
  • Madusanka (Head Barman) who has gained experience by working at the Cricket Club in Colombo.
  • Geeth (Head Waiter) who is very well known to many Negombo residents as he previously worked at Serendib for many years.

Toro Bar & Restaurant has only been opened for about 4 months but is already established itself as one of the top venues in Negombo due to its great food, unique and imaginative menu, good value, great bar service and cocktails and friendly welcoming service.

The bar is frequented by many local families as its a safe and friendly place for women to come, many aircrew (especially the Emirates team as they stopover at the Jetwing Sea which is opposite) and foreign visitors to the area.

The atmosphere is friendly, mixed and there’s always great music and every Friday you can expect live music and feel free to dance if you want, there is plenty of room.

The décor of the place is modern with wooden pallets making up the walls and the ceiling. Modern lighting and wooden tables, some low down and some high up, spotlessly clean toilets and attractive bar area.

Feel relaxed with lots of large wall fans to cool you down. There is a vast array of drinks to choose from. From Lion beer, Apple cider, cocktails, milkshakes, Calsberg, Corona to Chilean wine by the glass.

Madusanka can serve up both the quickest and the meanest mojito in Negombo. Its great value with Lion beer just 420 rupees or Gin and tonic (with ice and lime, which is a rare thing in Sri Lanka) for just 500 rupees.

The menu is a mixed of Sri Lankan and Western and can be suitable for everyine including vegetarians and vegans. Steak Panini sandwich, (700 LKR) Prawn & Avacado wrap,(600LKR) Beer batter fish with home made chips and salad, (950 LKR), Freshly made pizzas, Seafood. Chop Suey and even delicious Traditional Sri Lankan rice and curry. The menu has been devised by Krishan and Chanaka and their joint vast experience is shown in their dishes and presentation.
If you have any questions then Geeth will be pleased to answer them.

The owner Krishan is very proud of his new venue. If you ask to see the kitchen he will be delighted to show it to you. Here you will find one of the largest and cleanest kitchens in the country. Very impressive and offers peace of mind about the food.

 

 

So if you are visiting Negombo then head North along the beach road, with the sea on your left hand side and get youself down to Toro Bar & Restaurant.

Why not stay at one of our many highly recommended guest houses in Negombo Beach North such as Anne Residence (from $18 a night) or Shannon Rest (from $20 a night), these two properties are only a short 5 minute walk to Toros.

Portuguese Surnames

Portuguese surnames and titles are very common among the Sinhalese

Sri Lanka’s first Prime Minister, Don Stephen Senanayake, bore the Portuguese title Don as part of his name.

The arrival of the Portuguese on Sri Lanka’s (Ceylon) shores in 1505 had a profound impact on local society and the Sinhalese.

For one thing, the Portuguese title of Dom, originally applied to nobles and churchmen. Caught on by undergoing a slight change to Don to precede the proper names of local men. Its feminine form, Dona, applied to ladies of very high standing  local women, especially of the south.

J.W. Bennett noted in his work, Ceylon and its Capabilities (1843), how the Sinhalese of his day still aspired for Portuguese names and titles. Adopting names such as Don Louis and Don Christoffel. “German Barons” he says, “are scarcely less plentiful than Ceylon Doms and Dons, and the latter appendage is just as easily assumed as the former title”.

The Portuguese also left a very large number of their surnames behind.

Although this does not mean that those who bear them have Portuguese ancestry. Rather, these surnames seem to have been adopted by their forebears when they converted to Christianity, possibly taking after the names of Portuguese godfathers. Such Portuguese surnames were called alukunna from the Portuguese alcunna, which in turn had derived from the Arabic al-kunya.

While common Sinhalese surnames like:

Almeda, Cabral, Costa, Dias, Silva, Perera, Fonseka, Fernando, Pinto, Rodrigo, and Salgado are pretty straightforward Portugues.

There are others that have undergone slight variations such as:

Aponsu (Affonso), Livera (Oliveira), Grero (Guerrero), Peiris (Peres), Nonis (Nunes), Gomas (Gomes), Mendis (Mendes), Suwaris (Soares), Sigera (Siqueira), Pigera (Piqueira), Tisera (Teixeira), Thabrew (D ‘Abreu), Doluvira (De Oliveira), and Salpadoru (Salvador).

Many of these Portuguese names have lovely meanings.

For example, take Silva (of the Woods), Costa (Sea Coast), Perera (Pear Tree), Oliveira (Olive Tree), and Correa (Place covered with Carriolas plant). Yet others are diminutives, like Pinto (Chick) or suggestive of a heroic tradition, like Guerrero (Warrior).

The Sri Lankan Piggy Bank

the sril ankan piggy bankWhen it comes to saving, Sri Lankans have a lower saving rate than other Asian countries. Compare for example the Sri Lankan saving rate of 23%, compared to that of Singapore (53%), and of Malaysia (33%). India and the Philippines also have a higher saving rate of 31%.

Reasons for this could be the low average salary of say 20,000 to 30,000 rps (US138 to US207) per month. However it may be down to the fact that the civil war taught people to look at surviving through the day on a day by day basis where the immediate presence far outweighed thinking of the future. Given that the war ended in 2009, that is only a mere 9 years ago. It may take many more years, and perhaps the next generation to change that mindset.

One thing Sri Lankans do like to do though is party.

When it comes to eating out and drinking with friends, they love to spend to enjoy themselves. Indeed don’t be surprised if they ask you to join in their festivities. Their hospitality is like no other. Whilst this may reduce the savings of some, it must also mean that others are lining their pockets.

The Famous Bottle of Smirnoff

1471904_544419895642529_447747922_nThis is something a visitor to Sri Lanka will most likely see while riding a tuk tuk. The scenario will probably look like this:

You’re stuck in traffic and, like most days at any given time, it’s hot, and you can see a traffic policeman up ahead directing the traffic. The tuk tuk driver reaches for a bottle of Smirnoff or another famous alcoholic brand. Screws the cork off and starts chugging straight out of the bottle.

You’ll probably wonder what’s going on. While you try convincing yourself that it’s not actually hard liquor he’s chugging out in the open.

Turns out, there’s no need to worry: drinking water out of glass bottles is, one could say, just as common as the mosquitoes.

If you work in an office, you’ll definitely spot multiple people with vodka and wine bottles at their desks. And while being drunk on the job might fit the exotic country label. It is definitely not acceptable in Sri Lanka.

They’re simply giving the finger to plastic and reusing glass bottles for drinking water.

Or in fact it has moved on from this as in some offices it’s seen as a bit of a status symbol to those drinking out of bottles like Grey Goose, Bombay Sapphire or Glenfiddick are seen as high earners.

Culture Shock Sri Lanka

10306182_625949334156251_784079371064773130_nWhen visiting a Sri Lankan home

Always take your shoes off (or make an attempt to) when you enter someone’s home. Sri Lankans never walk around at home with shoes on.

Its very common to see rows of shoes or flip flops (which by the way are called “slippers” in Sri Lanka) lined up outside the front door.

Also it’s not polite to point the soles of your feet at people. If you’re sitting on the floor, go cross legged or put your feet flat on the floor.

You will almost always be offered tea, and likely something to eat. By the way the tea will be the most sweetest thing you will ever drink in your life. It’s normal for Sri Lankan’s to have tea with 5 or 6 spoon fulls of sugar in. When you ask, “please no sugar”, firstly you get get a funny look and secondly they will put some in, anyway just for good measures.

It’s wise to accept this gesture as a sign of interest.  If you don’t want something, you will be asked a number of times – again, this is just to show hospitality.  You may need to be firm in refusing.

As you may have guessed by now, it’s considered polite to accept second helpings. A clean plate will be interpreted as a sign that you’re still hungry. Showing interest in a particular food, or in the food on someone else’s plate, may result in them giving it to you (learned from experience!).

People often have a siesta between 1.30-4pm, for between 1-3 hours. If you’re invited for lunch, you may be expected to leave promptly afterwards.

Gifts

Always take something when you visit a Sri Lankan home. Biscuits or a very small souvenir from home (such as a couple of pens or postcards) will be much appreciated. However, don’t expect people to mention or open the gifts, or even to say thank you. It’s not the done thing.

Give and receive with both hands to show respect.

The Sri Lankan Umbrella Thing

7-23-2016 5-00-47 PMSri Lankans like using umbrellas, and that’s just a fact.

You’ll see people walking around with umbrellas trying to shield themselves from the strong sun, and you’ll see them trying to hold onto them in the heavy wind and rain.

But the third and most fascinating one is young couples hanging out under umbrellas. With the umbrella over their heads creating privacy and a sense of personal space, young men and women innocently touch each other’s shoulders or hold hands.

You might not get the appeal since it doesn’t really afford much privacy, but it’s actually strangely cute!



The Head Wobble

6311286170_c6229297cf_oWhile visiting a new country is interesting and exciting, moving to one, learning to adapt, and understanding the culture can be challenging. Some things are very obvious and easy to get used to, while there are certain other things… well, you’ll probably never get used to them. (Hint: Rice and Curry. All. The. Time.)

Here’s one thing that is very typical for SriLanka‬, but can be difficult, confusing, or even flat-out weird to a foreigner.

The Head Wobble.

The Head Wobble is one of the first things a foreigner notices in Sri Lanka, and getting used to this can be confusing to say the least. While dealing with tuk-tuk drivers in itself can be frustrating and make you feel as if you’ve lost your mind, the Head Wobble doesn’t make it any easier. Confirmation that the driver knows a certain road or direction is almost always indicated with the Head Wobble, which can be frustrating for a foreigner – it’s not clear if the shake of the head is a ‘no’ or a ‘yes.’ You’re just left there expecting a verbal answer and feel ignored when you don’t get one.

Good Luck