I am writing this blog retrospectively and as I do so I look out of the window at the kind of grey, bare, biting November day that inspires travel-related daydreams of a holiday to Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is so vibrant. Not just vibrant in the sense of colour, spice, sun, and tropicality but also vibrant in the sense that the country is changing. Fantastic hotels are springing up, Living Heritage Koslanda by way of example. Interesting new excursions are bursting on to the scene – walking around the capital city with a hugely knowledgeable local guide (a doctor and an engineer, no less) opened my eyes and totally changed my perception of Colombo that, in large part owing to the civil war that ended in May 2009, had all but completely hidden its charms from its visitor.
Now there is a buzz in Colombo that demands one’s attention. Wonderful old department stores, such as Cargill’s, are being renovated and the Old Dutch Hospital now boasts designer shops and magnificent eateries. The chilli crab I ate at the ever popular Ministry of Crab hit me for six. It was sublime.
Away from the capital the country is as sleepy and as scenically splendid as I remember it from my previous visits but you can now see more of it and, importantly, see it in style. The old favourite hotels are still there and still excellent but they are now facing more and more competition which is healthy and good for the traveller.
Now is the time to visit Sri Lanka.