Tripin 2017 - 2018 - page 55

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This summer, I enjoyed the perfect holiday in
Sri Lanka with my son, Zak. Two Americans,
one in his fifties, the other in his twenties,
spending two weeks together in close
proximity halfway around the world: What
could go wrong? For us, nothing; we loved
our journey together around this beautiful and
diverse island.
For me, this holiday was a reconnection
with a country in which I lived 32 years ago,
thanks to a Fulbright research scholarship (to
study coffee plantation agriculture in British
Ceylon 150 years ago). More important, this
trip was an opportunity to share some quality
time with my son, who has spent most of
the past year and a half living in Colombo.
Together, we combined our “historical” and
current knowledge of the island to plan the
perfect itinerary.
Let me say right off that the “perfect” itinerary
is what is perfect for you. That is to say,
think about what kind of a trip you want:
historical wonders, relaxing beaches, hiking,
photography, modern comforts, or traditional
religious or cultural experiences: this island has
it all. Think about what you want to see and
do, and not necessarily what the guidebooks
insist you do. Read the guidebooks, do online
research, then follow your heart.
Pro tip: Cross-check information and recommenda-
tions in guidebooks (such as Lonely Planet), online
resources (such as Booking.com and TripAdvisor.
com) then contact hotels directly for the best deal.
Book ahead but check cancellation policies in case
you change your mind.
Our priorities on this particular journey
involved going to beautiful and photogenic
areas, eating wonderful food, traveling in
cost-effective style, and revisiting places close
to our hearts. We planned a circular route
around the island’s southwest corner, from
Colombo south to Galle (by bus), east along
the south coast toward Tangalle (by bus),
north to Ella and the central highlands (by
car), through the mountains to Kandy (by
train), and finally, back to Colombo (again
by train). We wisely decided on a limited
number of places, with multiple nights’ stay
in each. You can go to places you missed on
your next holiday!
Pro tip: Each mode of transportation has its
advantages (in terms of cost, route, time, and
convenience), but variety is always nice. Use a
website such as Rome2Rio.com to calculate these
factors and compare your options. Don’t overdo.
Robert Helm in 1984 drinking a coconut not far from his home in the hills of Kandy
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