Been on a rather unplanned trip to Sri Lanka and back - these are my observations: -
(warning: long post)
This was my first opportunity to use my rusty old passport. The emigration folks at Chennai airport put their seal on the 3rd or 4th page, very randomly covering more than one box, and the ink getting smudged. The Sri Lankan immigration authorities did a neat job sealing on the first blank box and doing it very neatly.
Traveling to Colombo from Chennai/Trivandrum is much cheaper than traveling to most other places in India, with the airfare being under 3000 rupees. Duration of flight is also under 90 minutes.
Looks wise, from the air, Sri Lanka looks very much like Kerala, my home state - in fact greener (this is a rare case of me accepting any other place as greener than Kerala). Climate wise, too it is theoretically very similar to Kerala, only that in recent times Kerala has been getting lesser and lesser rates.
The bus journey was not as uncomfortable as wikitravel made it sound like (maybe experience in MTC buses helped), though it took close to two hours to reach my hotel.
There were other interesting observations in Colombo city - though the city has a sizable number of vehicles, there were no traffic jams - unbelievably pleasant surprise was the fact that vehicles kept 3-4 feet distance from the vehicles in the front, stopped at pedestrian crossing, and no one honks irritably! Shops close early (most of them by 6-7pm) and they dont have any shutters - clear glass with lights inside to highlight their main products (I could never imagine such a situation in Kerala - it would have not have lasted 1 month, with either robber or hartal activists taking them down). Maybe the constant vigil of police/paramilitary on the roads help.
The beaches at Galle Face and along Galle Road are excellent. Food options are heavenly for non-vegetarians, and non veg fare starts right from the morning (very much like Kerala). For a keralite, food is pretty much the same - Appam (interesting Anglicized name - Hoppers), Idiyappam (String Hoppers), Paratha (similar to Kerala/Malabar Paratha, except, square in shape), Pittu (called Puttu in Kerala).
Also made a weekend trip to Kandy, but thats for another post.
Contrary to the start of the topic, this post is very short. It didnt even start before it ended. I hope the Lanka trip was definitely not just a Bandaranayake airport visitReplyDelete
hope the beautiful country finally breathes in relief, and tourism looks up...ReplyDelete
nice to know that motorists actually stop before ped. crossings :)
as our dear friend anon. has said, this isnt a long post at all, so looking forward to your kandy account too... how far is it from colombo ?
btw,the paratha you mean is parota, right? are malabar parottas very different from the TN version ?
@Anon a.k.a. Nithya - well, had planned for a long post, but got bored in between. So Kandy trip to come only in next postReplyDelete
@Sowpar - yes, and now having seen how good traffic can be in a lesser developed country, I'm finding it difficult to drive in Chennai. In bangalore I lose all faith in human civilization. Paratha in Sri Lanka is triangular/square. Malabar porotta would contain egg, and is slightly tastier from TN version
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Just making some edits from my earlier posted comment.ReplyDelete
Hello Sabarinath C Nair,
With regards to your very interesting article about your visit to Sri Lanka - specifically in reference to the comment that Sri Lanka is greener than Kerala. The Sri Lankan Wet Zone which comprises the southwestern lowlands, the ridge & valley region in Sabaragamuwa province, and the central highlands is very analogous to Kerala both with respect to climate and vegetation. The time you visited the Colombo area which lies in the Sri Lankan Wet Zone - if it was in May coincides with their wettest month around the time of the beginning of the southwest monsoon when the Colombo area normally averages approximately 392 mm in May out of an annual rainfall of 2424 mm) and this May, Colombo received exceptionally heavy rainfall due to the effects of Tropical Storm Laila which deposited as much as 350 mm of rain in the Colombo area in a span of 5 days from May 17-21, resulting in widespread flooding in the low-lying sections of Colombo and surrounding areas. This particular May, Kerala which normally receives around 250-300 mm of rain for May statewide - received less than the state average for the month and was not at all effected by Laila. The southwest monsoon starts later in Kerala compared to Sri Lanka, commencing usually around June 1st and thereafter rapidly picking up momentum - in the months of June and July, many parts of Kerala average 700 to 900 mm of rain per month and there are very few parts of Sri Lanka even in the Wet Zone with the exception of a few high altitude places in the central highlands like Maliboda, Wattawala, or Ginigathhena that have such accentuated monthly rainfall totals. As you know, the vegetation of Kerala during those months are just bursting with chlorophyll, a riot of verdant, luxuriant, rank vegetation which I'm sure will exceed the verdure of Sri Lanka which often gets only a fraction of the rainfall that Kerala gets by the end of the southwest monsoon (during period of June-September 1100 mm in Sri Lankan Wet Zone and 2100 mm in Kerala). Also, if you travelled from TVM to Colombo, it is important to note that TVM gets only 1840 mm annually compared to 2424 mm annually in Colombo and with the effects of Tropical Storm Laila - the amount in Colombo would have been much more this May. It may be better to compare Colombo rainfall with Kochi rainfall, 2424 mm to 3338 mm annually, respectively. You need to make your comment that Sri Lanka is greener than Kerala in the context of the time and month that you visited Sri Lanka as well taking into consideration local climate effects or your readers will have the spurious assumption that Sri Lanka is greener than Kerala which I am not all convinced is the case.
Thank you for your comments on my blog. I do not mean to provide any spurious impression about Sri Lanka.
Having grown up in Kerala for most of my life, I have seen over the years the greenery getting lesser and lesser. My hometown Trivandrum itself has lost a lot of fields and "parambu" for more and more housing. I flew from Chennai to Colombo. I have in the past flown from Chennai to Trivandrum, again, I can see lesser and lesser greenery with each time.
I would attribute one more factor to the greenery in Sri Lanka - much lesser population - only 2 crore for the whole country (half that of Kerala).
So, Sri Lanka reminded me of how Kerala looked 10-15 years back.
Edit to previous posted comment from Snickel Frob.ReplyDelete
I've noticed that many articles written by Sri Lankans boasting about how biologically diverse Sri Lanka is and that it is the most species rich country in South Asia for its size - some of these people have the temerity to compare the flora and fauna of Sri Lanka with Costa Rica which in fact houses approximately 5 % of the world's plants and animals. The facts are that Sri Lanka has an estimated 3350 species of flowering plants where as Costa Rica has an estimated 12000 species of flowering plants - to give you perspective, Sri Lanka has a land area of 25332 square miles vs. Costa Rica's land area of approximately 19500 square miles. Even Kerala has more species of flowering plants than Sri Lanka - some 4968 species and Kerala has only 15005 square miles of territory. Also, Kerala is more densely populated than Sri Lanka 34 million people in Kerala compared to 21 million people in SL and Kerala is more intensely cultivated. Kerala produces approximately 5.8 billion coconuts per year on 781000 hectares of land, Sri Lanka 2.9 billion coconuts per year on 395000 hectare of land. Kerala produces approximately 783000 metric tons of natural rubber annually on 517000 hectares of land compared to Sri Lanka's 129000 metric tons of natural rubber annually on 122000 hectares of land. With respect to commercial crops - except for tea and cinnamon, Kerala far exceeds SL in the production of most major spices. With so much land under cultivation in Kerala, don't you think this would definitely have an adverse impact on the green cover and climate of Kerala compared to Sri Lanka? This may also explain the increasing droughts in the hot, summer months in Kerala which are becoming increasingly hotter each year. Thank you.
I'm sorry for coming acrossed as harsh in my post regarding the comment that Sri Lanka appears greener than Kerala. I, too am originally from Kerala, I'm actually a Non-Resident Indian but my family hails from Kottayam and despite living away from my ancestral home all of my life, I am fiercely loyal to my native state and will defend her relentlessly. Your points are well appreciated and as you correctly pointed out and also as I alluded in my second post - the demographic pressures in Kerala have largely adversely impacted the natural vegetation of our beloved state. I will concede that Sri Lanka is an extremely beautiful and verdant island much cleaner and with better infrastructure than Kerala and perhaps all of India in general but the population pressures which are much more acute in India has largely contributed to the country including Kerala becoming less and less green.
To answer an earlier querie about the distance from Colombo to Kandy - Kandy lies approximately 116 km (72 miles) away from Colombo - in an east/northeast direction from Colombo.ReplyDelete
Follow up comment by ManiReplyDelete
I must admit that I have never visited Sri Lanka but I've been to Kerala several times and have always been awe-struck by its overpowering tropical green-ness at any season. I have viewed through Wikimapia places along the southwest coast and adjoining interior portions of Sri Lanka (Colombo, Kalutara, Beruwala, Galle, Ratnapura) and compared it to the green-ness of places along the South Kerala coast and adjoining interior areas (Alappuzha, Kollam, Konni, Ranni, Pathanamthitta) and I must say that the Palm Leaf I award to the Kerala places over the Sri Lankan places. I concede that this is probably after Kerala has already received a heavy dose of the Southwest Monsoon which is well established over the Kerala area by now. Thank you.
I know I haven't written in a while but I just wanted to add another tidbit about Sri Lanka's claim about being the most biologically diverse nation in South Asia, according to size. As I mentioned earlier, Sri Lanka has an estimated 3350 species of higher order vascular plants - some estimates put the upper limit at 3771 species but if you compare to other countries in South Asia - Bhutan which is 18147 square miles compared to Sri Lanka's 25332 square miles has 5468 species of flowering plants which means the floral diversity density per 1000 square miles in Bhutan is actually greater than Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka also claims to be the Frog Capital of the world displacing Costa Rica from holding that distinction - saying it has the highest number of amphibians per 1000 square kilometers in the world (3.90 - compared to 3.68 in Costa Rica). This is based on studies by Pethiyagoda in 1998 - actually the number of Amphibian species in Sri Lanka is 106 species compared to 188 species in Costa Rica -Sri Lanka is 65610 square km compared to 51100 square km in Costa Rica making Costa Rica have the higher Amphibian density 3.68 vs. 1.62 in Sri Lanka.ReplyDelete
Flora and Fauna ComparisonsReplyDelete
Costa Rica (51100 sq KM)
Mammal species: 232
Bird species: 838
Amphibian species: 188
Reptile species: 220
Orchid species: 1200
Sri Lanka (65610 sq KM)
Mammal species: 90 (if you include non-terrestrials and imports - 113)
Bird species: 441 - some estimates say up to 490
Amphibian species: 106
Reptile species: between 171 and 183
Angiosperms: between 3210 and 3771
Orchid species: between 170 and 188
Kerala (38863 sq KM)
Mammal species: 145
Bird species: 508
Amphibian species: 105 possibly up to 117
Reptile species: 169 species (range between 169 and 187 species)
Angiosperms: between 4681 and 4968 species
Orchid species: between 214 and 255 species
Interesting article, added his blog to FavoritesReplyDelete
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Happy New Year!
My latest quip on Sri Lanka:
Sri Lanka appears to be experiencing cool weather so far in January 2011, no doubt from the recent heavy rains. Lowland stations in Wet Zone (Colombo, Ratmalana, Galle, & Ratnapura) have been experiencing minimum daily temperatures in the 18.2 to 21.6 Celsius range for the past 3 days while day time maximum temperatures have been in the 27.2 to 27.8 Celsius range. Kerala lowland stations on the other hand have still maintain substantially higher temperatures (Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, & Kozhikode) with minimum daily temperatures in the 21.8 to 23 Celsius range for the past 3 days while day time maximum temperatures have been in the 31.7 to 32.4 Celsius range.
Historically, Kerala lowland stations enjoy higher winter temperatures than corresponding Wet Zone lowland stations in Sri Lanka, perhaps that is why birds in Siberia prefer to migrate to Kerala for their winter sojourn over Sri Lanka - SRI LANKA IS SIMPLY NOT WARM ENOUGH IN WINTER!
@ Snickel Frob
Kerala is a LONG NARROW piece, surrounded by other states. Sri Lanka is an island. Thatz the difference!