On our way to the next destination, our driver pulled over for a quick check on directions and Maureen and I took it as an opportunity to take a look at the road-side stand.
At first glance, nothing was of real interest and then a bottle of honey caught my eye- this was the first we had seen honey in Sri Lanka. Which is odd, because it turns out that they add bananas and honey to pretty much everything.
Then just off to the right was COCONUT HONEY. The price seemed reasonable to us (80 rupees or $0.52 USD) so we ran back to the car to grab money- confirmed without the driver that he wasn’t ripping us off and that in fact, coconut honey was what we thought it was, honey from a coconut tree.
We had discussed going to Cinnamon Island, but I think our driver was well aware that cost was sometimes a thing to be considered on our end and instead- he drove around- pulling over often to communicate with the locals and instructed us that we had arrived but would need to walk a bit.
Hmmm- this doesn’t look like where I would board a boat to the island- but I’ll go with it.
Eshan, who informed us that his friend had a cinnamon farm, started to educate both Maureen and me as we walked through the Cinnamon tree fields.
I had just been reading the night before how it is not allowed for tourists to set foot on the actual plantains these days but all of the sudden, they were herding us through and what do you know?- our driver arranged for an up close and personal 1:1 cinnamon making tour!
So first things first. Grow trees. Then harvest them, prune or cut the trees down, and then soak the trees.
Once soaked, you scrape off the bark and then dry them.
Then scrape some more and then stuff, roll, and cut.
Once again, they attempted to overcharge us until our driver helped communicate a local’s deal. Fried rice for 100LKR and $1.50 USD for Maureen’s egg fried rice.
Eh- I think Maureen was okay with it but I was bored and wanted to explore some of the other offerings but for the price, under $1.00 USD, it couldn't argue too much.
I’m starting to see how the locals do this whole eating thing.
Approach the communal sink- wash hands and your own plates, utensils etc. and then load up on your carbs by eating with your hands. I’m almost decent at it, but rice without a curry is pretty difficult to eat with your hands.
Sri Lanka is known for its sapphires and apparently, if you go to the correct places- you can walk away with a great deal.
We arrived to open doors, literally and then welcomed to a quick tour on how they cut, clean, and create the jewelry onsite.
Then we moved inside to look at and become educated on all that they had to offer in terms of gems and pre-made jewelry.
In the end, Maureen had purchased a necklace that would be hand created and delivered directly to our resort. I had them create a ring for me, bring it to the resort and only after I agreed to the creation pay and enjoy it. I haggled them down to $30 USD.
Even if you have no intentions of purchasing these items- it is fun to be “pampered” for a bit.
The Galle Fort, or Dutch Fort as it is also known, is a fortification first built by the Portugese on the Southwestern coast of Sri Lanka. The initial fortifications, which were built in the late 16th century, were quite basic. However the fort underwent extensive modifications in the 17th century by the Dutch, making it one of the most important archeological, architectural and historic monuments to illutrate the European influence in South East Asia between the 16th and 19th centuries. According to a statement by UNESCO the site was recognized as a World Heritage Site for its unique exposition of an urban ensemble which illustrates the interaction of European architecture and South Asian traditions from the 16th to the 19th centuries which is the criteterion number four for such recognition.
If you have time, I do recommend checking it out- the water is gorgeous and the view is breathtaking.
Eshan was a great driver who really took care of us- he really truly made our trip what it was and full of many wonderful once in a lifetime experience. We would have never been able to see all the sights we did without his help and of course, he stopped the locals from ripping us off and educated us on the Sri Lankan way of life.
So knowing that his free time consisted of drinking and smoking- we got a bottle of the famous Sri Lankan Coconut Arrack to say goodbye to our driver.
Personally, I was not a fan - BUT everyone else seemed to enjoy it.
Not too much luck here- it was suggested we take a short walk and we would come across and a mixture of western and local favorites- but again, Maureen was not having it. She was missing her typical western meals. She had noted that if we found hoppers with eggs or fried rice, she would be happy and I found both, BUT she didn't have much interest in them.
I went with some of the local fruits- baby bananas, pineapple and papaya- and then made mauree and I a coconut rice dish for our home cooked meal.
Oh and check it out, the papaya did NOT have seeds inside?!?!