THE ROAD TO SRI LANKA
Photograph by Richard Moross
Recently I took the trip of a lifetime to Sri Lanka. Considering that the journey from SFO to Colombo took a good 34 hours to get there, I have to say that the flight felt almost effortless because the folks at Singapore Airlines know how to take care of their passengers. The trip also included a layover in Singapore Changai Airport, which Skytrax recognized as the best airport of 2010.
Layovers are rarely, if ever, entertaining - but this one is actually worth writing about. Singapore Changai is a stunning airport. Amenities include a movie theater, a swimming pool, gym, spa, meditation and prayer rooms, a butterfly garden and a nature trail. And, if that doesn't wow you, the airport is currently hosting a cash giveaway that will make one of its traveling customers an instant millionaire.
My arrival in Sri Lanka was characterized with the same amazing level of hospitality experienced along the way. I met the Ambassador as well as several other people who treated me with impeccable hospitality. I also spoke at several events and had a large interaction with the press, including a television appearance on Good Morning Sri Lanka. My visit included staying at the Mount Lavinia Hotel in Colombo. Mount Lavinia dates back to the time of British Colonialism and is now an extravagant hotel that overlooks the ocean.
Mount Lavinia is a popular wedding destination because of its romantic history. Couples delight in the legendary love story of British Governor General Maitland (who built the mansion) and a dancer named Lavina. Apparently, he was so enraptured by her that he built a secret underground tunnel that ran from the mansion to her garden. It is said that he named the stately home after her. Had he tried to make a life with her, he would have had to endure ridicule and disapproval from the British people. He ended up leaving the island without her.
Photograph by Kisaru Samarakoon
Colombo itself seems to have a thriving food scene. What struck me the most was the balance and subtlety in which chefs use a combination of very strong chilies and a myriad of spices. Sri Lanka is also known for its teas - namely Ceylon teas. In the same way that Champagne has proprietary rights that are exclusive to that region in France, Ceylon tea holds similar naming rights. True Ceylon tea carries the lion with a sword logo which indicates that the tea has met the standards of the Sri Lanka Tea Board.