off the record
The kindness of strangers
Since Malik J. Fernando answered our request for an interview almost immediately, this trip has been blessed by the inhabitants of Sri Lanka. The entire Dilmah Tea team made filming easy, even before we arrived at the plantation. Rivendell Guesthouse, recommended to us at the Castlereagh reserve, offered spectacular views of the lake and tea hills. Sharing an unforgettable meal with them at one of the Tea Trail villas was the perfect way to top off our visit to ‘Tea Country’.
But it was not all cups of tea and beach bonfires.
Everyone would smile at us, wanting us to take their photos. We played pool at a pub in Dambulla and cricket with some children in Weligama. We also tried coconut whisky at the beach birthday party of one of the workers from a hostel in Triconmalee. Several child monks were our guides at their temple, while they practised their English with us. On leaving, they gave us some blessed bracelets. But it was not all cups of tea and beach bonfires. mThe moment when we most depended on the kindness of the Sri Lankans was when we came face to face with the kamikaze buses. Driving in Sri Lanka is a dangerous sport, where buses overtake other vehicles in hairpin manoeuvres, crossing double continuous dividing lines. While doing so, the driver toots the horn insistently, to the rhythm of the music he constantly listens to at top volume. A cup of tea would have been nice at that moment.
More Sri Lanka
“Ceylon tea has been the lifeblood of Sri Lanka”
In search of a Sri Lankan guide, we looked to its famous Ceylon tea plantations. Malik Fernando is a pioneer in tea tourism. He is creator of Ceylon Tea Trails, a chain offering small, luxury accommodation in the historical plantation buildings.
Read the interview >