TikaWeeks #24/2018: Sri Lanka update

Posted by John on 17th June 2018

Pathi, John and 'van' (minibus), JB Pathi Tours, April 2003, Sri Lanka
Why Tikalanka arranges holidays to Sri Lanka and Maldives only

Many of our customers ask why we arrange holidays to Sri Lanka and Maldives only. Why not expand our portfolio and offer other countries as well? They really enjoyed their holiday to Sri Lanka and/or Maldives with us and would like to use our services again in the future but to a different destination. Surely, they say, this is a better way to do business? However, we don’t agree.

All other companies offering “specialist” holidays to Sri Lanka also arrange holidays to a variety of other countries. The difference with Tikalanka is that we are passionate about Sri Lanka and consequently put all of our energy and effort into being the travel specialist to Sri Lanka and Maldives. This is borne from our origins – a fortuitous meeting of similar minds across different cultures.

Pathi (S.G. Pathirana) and I (John Beswetherick) chanced upon each other in Kandy over Millennium New Year 1999/2000 and immediately became close friends. I was invited to his home in Hanthana and met his wife, Suba, and son, Mahesh. On returning to the UK, I invested in a minibus in Sri Lanka and sponsored Pathi to become a Sri Lanka Tourist Board-licensed chauffeur guide and JB Pathi Tours was born! I spent two subsequent winters in Sri Lanka researching the country and, with the brokering of a ceasefire in the island’s protracted civil war, we decided to launch Tikalanka in the summer of 2004, and then came the tsunami on Boxing Day…

Fifteen years on, Tikalanka goes from strength to strength; Mahesh is in Australia studying Mechanical Engineering; and Pathi and Suba run a very successful guesthouse (Hanthana House) and have a daughter, Dihini, who shares my birthday – a very auspicious happenstance! I visit Sri Lanka at least once a year to stay with the Pathiranas, catch up with our guides and local business, and explore and discover new holiday ideas for our customers. Who says that only offering holidays to Sri Lanka and Maldives is a poor business model?! It certainly works very well for Tikalanka and our satisfied customers, although it leaves some of our enthusiastic supporters disappointed that they have to find another passionate and specialist company to visit other countries!

A Day in the Life of Sri Lanka – #4 Bath time

Very few houses in rural Sri Lanka have running water so, like the kade, other sources of water play both a functional and social role in country life. As in most Asian countries, a bath is a daily ritual. Children swim and splash about, but adults rarely bathe in the water. They wash themselves with the aid of a scoop and the whole ritual is accompanied by a great soaping operation. Firstly they wet their knees then gradually work their way up to their hair, which they rinse with buckets of water. Men take their bath sitting on their haunches, preferably in the morning or evening, before or after their daily tasks.

Women tie a light cotton cloth around their chests, which leaves their shoulders bare but stretches down to their ankles. They go to the well, the reservoir or an irrigation channel, at any time of the day, usually accompanied by their young children. When they have had their bath, they begin laundering clothes or washing dishes, chatting to their neighbours all the while.

Where to stay in… Colombo

The countries capital has seen significant changes since the declaration of peace in 2009. Thankfully, we have said farewell to cordoned-off areas, high-security zones and no-go areas. Instead, we welcome the opening of new hotels, restaurants and special sites of interest. Today, Colombo is a vibrant and busy city with much to offer the metropolitan visitor.

Havelock Place Bungalow is an urban oasis, quietly secreted away from the capital’s hustle and bustle but conveniently placed for sojourns into the city centre. This British colonial-era bungalow has six tastefully decorated rooms reflecting its colonial heritage, with antique furniture and rugs, and historic photos adorning the walls. Each bedroom opens onto its own private patio or the garden.

Galle Face Hotel was originally the superior place to stay for the British establishment since 1864, and the newly refurbished hotel still has an authentic colonial feel and charm, with airy verandas and deferential waiters dressed all in white. Its prominent seafront position and central location make it an ideal place to stay when visiting Colombo.  

Maniumpathy is a luxurious boutique hotel located in the heart of Colombo surrounded by art galleries, chic boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, leading shopping centres and national monuments. The century-old stately house, which has been home to five generations of Jaffna Tamils, has an atmosphere reminiscent of the moods and pursuits of the people who have lived within its walls, offering a unique perspective of past Sri Lankan culture.

Categories: Accommodation, Culture, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Travel tips

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