Back from the island holiday with a clear conscience – Low Calorie Diets Tips

A quick web surf added half a dozen cons to a list titled “Travel to Sri Lanka During an Economic Crisis”. Further doubts were fueled by intentional media vocabulary: explosive protests, travel advice for tourists and disrupted food supply chains. Then there were the amazed expressions of the airline staff at the check-in desk, who saw a ticket to Bandaranaike Airport, Colombo. And the final test was being questioned by uneasy fellow travelers about my awareness of the “awful situation” in Sri Lanka.

Take it from someone who has returned from a week-long vacation to the island nation and was only minimally impacted by the economic and political climate of the time – there is a reason not to tick Sri Lanka off your travel bucket list. The latest violence is a frustrating culmination of years of peaceful protests by locals across the country since 2019.

April saw seven days of boat trips through dense mangrove forests, bathing and feeding elephants, releasing baby turtles into the sea, watching sunsets on the beach and climbing centuries-old ruins. But I was a slave to Sri Lankan charm long before landing. An aerial view of the country’s natural landscapes revealed a dense cover of coconut groves, grassy paths, the meandering Mahaweli Ganga River – all surrounded by the Indian Ocean.

My road trip took in culturally vibrant Sigiriya, the hill station of Kandy, and culminated in the coastal towns of Bentota and Colombo. Sigiriya, synonymous with Lion Rock, was a 2,000-step climb that culminated at the ruins of a rock fortress built by 5th-century civilizations. The heartbreaking climb was rewarded with a panoramic view of the surrounding green and blue plains. Near Sigirya is Dambulla, home to the twenty-two-century-old Buddhist sanctuary, spread over five-rock caves. Although I feared another ascent the same day, this time in shoulder and knee covering clothing (as per temple mandates), the experience was soulful.

Rain clouds brushed the tops of coconut palms in Kandy. It was also here that I met Raja, an elephant from the Millennium Foundation, whom I fed, walked, bathed in a river and got hosed down for. Open to all visitors who wish to volunteer, this soothing experience is far better than visiting the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, a well-known tourist trap. Such antics have been repeated at Bentota, where the coast is dotted with conservatories tending to injured turtles and storing their eggs for the breeding season (March-May). I’ve been fortunate to be able to release week-old babies into the sea, although I was upset like a mom. Between action-packed days were moments of relaxing by the pool and sipping from king coconuts (South Indian yelnirhas nothing on it) and eating exotically spiced Sri Lankan curries in luxury resorts. I left the country sending a widely used “Ayubowan,” a Sinhala greeting that translates to “May you live long.”

Has the economic crisis affected my trip? The basic reality is that Sri Lankans are facing the setback of a declining economy. This crisis had led to large-scale but peaceful protests (not surprising for a country with a 70% Buddhist population) confined to the region around the capital and Parliament. On the only occasion I witnessed such a demonstration, 20,000 locals from nearby towns took part in an organized walk to Parliament, causing an hour-long traffic jam on the way to Colombo.

Yes, there have been major fuel shortages, and with gas and diesel prices soaring, large-scale inflation is imminent. Scenic drives through dense green groves of coconut trees were marred at times by miles of vehicle tracks alongside; everyone crawls to the gas pump. My rental driver, Jagath, would sometimes spend up to two hours after work refueling the car.

As the saying goes, one man’s poison was another man’s flesh: this means that this may have been the best time for a holiday in Sri Lanka. Crowds of tourists are being left behind due to unease about the political and economic climate and the fact that the Sri Lankan rupee has been devalued to half its value against the Indian rupee since March 2022. Somewhere here is a real case for responsible tourism. Among the many definitions, one stands out: tourism that respects the environment of the destination and generates economic benefits for local communities. The protesters are demanding a change of government, not a ban on tourists, who contribute a large part to Sri Lanka’s GDP. As the IMF urges Sri Lanka to tighten monetary policy and raise taxes, it remains to be seen whether skeptical holidaymakers from India and Russia will join the small groups of holidaymakers who have come to the rescue despite the latest updates. From staying at luxury resorts to buying tickets to preserve heritage sites and shopping from local vendors, every contribution counts. A luxurious island vacation with a conscience no longer has to be an impossible dream. So save this itinerary if Sri Lanka is ready to be saved.

Some practical tips for a future trip

Relying on self-preservation instincts and personal assurances from travel agents isn’t enough when every media outlet says otherwise, so arm yourself with these few suggestions:

Skip self-drive or public transportation due to fuel shortages and opt for a chauffeur-hire.

After you’ve decided on a resort to stay at, email them to check availability of backup generators.

Bring your own medication as pharmacies can remain understaffed.

Change money only at the airport or withdraw directly from ATMs if you run out of cash.

The international airport is quite a distance from Colombo, tick it off your list and visit all the protest free towns and villages that still offer the best of Sri Lanka.

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