The charming village of Ella nestled in the lush highlands of Sri Lanka and landscaped by world-famous tea plantations, is an amazing place for a stopover. Ella is an ideal location for trekking & cycling and an enchanting village that is offering many visitors a chance to experience the Country’s culinary traditions. If you want to learn to eat and cook Sri Lankan rice & curry then this is the place to visit. You will feel like a local, as you taste their spicy food and mingle with them.
There is a Sunday Market in the town of Bandarawela where local farmers and traders gather to sell produce and household products to people that come in from neighbouring towns. Ella in comparison has a smaller market every Wednesday morning. You will see the Passara road lined up with women in brightly dressed saris and cloth & jacket, selling fresh vegetables and herbs from their makeshift stalls.
A few days in Ella will be long enough to sample the tea, taste Sri Lankan cuisine, take on a few cookery classes and mingle with the friendly locals and when you leave this little town you will take with you fond memories of a stop over well spent. A scenic Tea estate resort on 98 acres with breathtaking views is definitely worth a stay. The weather is generally between 20-28 degrees Celsius throughout the year. You can book your Ella holiday at 98-acre resort with Leisure World Tours.
Our holiday in Hanoi.
We had this golden opportunity to join our daughter and son-in-law on a trip to Hanoi. It was a very enjoyable & memorable journey.
We arrived in Hanoi late in the evening. My son-in-law checked in at the Hilton and we went around Hanoi looking for a place to stay on our own.
The first thing I noticed were the motorbikes. That was obviously the common mode of transport. Crossing the street was rather nerve racking until we soon realised it was safe to do so. Everybody crosses the streets with ease. The motorcyclists seem to understand this need. They give way at the crossing or they go around you.
We crossed the bridge on the lake in the heart of Hanoi. It’s called the Hoan Kiem Lake. The walks around the lake and its picturesque surroundings gave me a sense that it must be either autumn or spring.
We passed plenty of small shops and boutiques and bought some souvenirs from the night market before we settled into a military complex turned into a 3 star hotel.
Hanoi is very beautiful and youthful. We didn’t have much time to explore the city. My daughter arranged our trip to Sapa through a way side Travel Agent, who organised a good itinerary with a guide to take us around at Halong Bay & Sapa.
The hotel we stayed in at Sapa was pretty ordinary and dirty. That was a disappointment. We were not too fussed about it. We just accepted it as normal in this part of Vietnam.
The bay is a very popular tourist destination and so we decided it is a must see place. It was the right decision we made not knowing anything about Vietnam. We enjoyed Halong Bay, which features lots and lots of islets of various sizes and shapes spread over the entire Bay.
We took the overnight train to Sapa, which is located in the remote northwest mountainous regions of Vietnam, bordering China. A very picturesque region adorned with rice terraces and lush vegetation.
There were 8 ethnic minorities living in Sapa I am told. Among them the H’mong group in particular followed us trying to sell their trinkets. Most of these peasants were very friendly and very poor.
Our guide was a very young lad who went out of his way to make our trip a very enjoyable one. He organised a lunch stopover with one of the families in a little hut surrounded by rice fields. The woman prepared the meals in our presence and her husband and brothers-in-law returned from the fields to enjoy that meal with us.
We drank their rice whisky. I think I drank too much as they sort of challenged me to keep up with them. On the way home, I was feeling tipsy but the long walk to the hotel through the rice fields made me sober.
We want to return to Vietnam for a longer stay. There is so much to see and do in this beautiful Country. We are waiting for the golden opportunity to join our daughter and son-in-law in their next expedition to Vietnam.
We now promote holidays to vietnam through Leisure World Tours.
Sri Lanka – An Island Paradise.
On arriving in Sri Lanka the first thing you will notice is the heat & high humidity as you get off the plane, then its you among other tourists and local ex-pats waiting for a taxi or for a friend.
If you arrived around 8:00 am you will not only see people but also the overwhelming force of cars and individuals spilling over the streets like an overflowing river, as you are driven to your hotel in Colombo or Negombo. This is a place where the population and vehicles increase by a million every year so to speak.
Such growth in numbers seems to be pushing people to limits a visitor can struggle to comprehend. I’ve travelled around towns in Vietnam but this was something else.
Poverty you will expect to see side-by-side in contrast to rich and poor. I didn’t see collapsing shanties or children walking through garbage sorting stuff for re-cycling like in some third world Countries.
On the contrary, what I saw was the latest cars driven away nonchalantly alongside Tut-tuts, busses, motor bikes & sometimes cattle.
What I saw was a bustling city teeming with people going to & fro tapping on their mobile phones.
What I saw was progress and a booming economy. In the towns, virtually every hotel, tourist attraction and many restaurants had a mix of locals and tourists. Business seemed booming everywhere I went.
Across the street one would see the occasional beggar with two withered legs carrying himself on his palms by the road. Long gone are the beggars lining the streets like in the seventies! I did not see an unemployment problem. Everybody seemed to be doing some sort of small business on the streets.
On the flip side however there was a noticeable feeling of uncertainty & dissatisfaction I gathered during regular conversations with friends and relatives. I thought that the end of 3 decades of war on terrorism would have brought on a lasting peace.
Instead, there remains a looming view among certain sectors of the community that power & corruption alongside progress and development were causing an overwhelming sense of uncertainty. A form of new-terrorism clandestinely orchestrated to maintain continued political dominance, some would argue.
There was a time several years ago wherever you went garbage surrounded you. Garbage gathered like a waste mountain in the foul smelling tips in Colombo but I didn’t see people scavenging like in India nor could I smell the stench anymore.
Hawkers on the streets would move heaven and earth to sell. A truly aggressive marketing strategy designed to solicit sales can be an annoying masterstroke. With the relentless hawkers and sellers on the beach one would develop a protective shield but would stop short of being angered by it all.
Everywhere new hotels are rising and it looks like they are struggling to keep up with the demand in tourist arrivals. Streets are being cleaned and new walkways constructed to make a lasting impression.
Sri Lanka is possibly the most resplendently colourful Country in Southeast Asia. Visitors to Sri Lanka will see friendly people, smiling faces and experience great hospitality.
Picturesque landscapes, ancient cities and world heritage sites alongside pristine palm fringed beaches and wildlife safaris will leave one with beautiful & lasting memories of a holiday well spent.
Irrespective of the prevailing uncertainties in certain sectors of the community Sri Lanka continues to enjoy world recognition as the number one tourist destination for 2013.
Enjoy a great holiday in Sri Lanka with Leisure World Tours
Nearly five years after the bloody civil war Sri Lanka is now emerging as a number one tourist destination. During most of the past 30 years Sri Lanka’s tourism concentration was mainly down south on the beaches, the highlands and forests.
The quick transition to a safer Sri Lanka has created such an influx of arrivals to the Island that accommodation in all sorts have sprung up to cater to this need, quite rapidly.
What we once considered “No Go” zones in the past is now a traveller’s paradise. Jaffna and the Eastern province are becoming hot spots. Travel agencies all over the world are currently focusing on tailor made holidays to Puttalam, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, and Jaffna.
Most notably people are travelling freely en masse around the Country. This is a gigantic step forward in freedom of movement. There is no fear anymore. People are happy. Domestic tourism particularly to Jaffna & Trincomalee is booming.
The citizens of Jaffna can breathe a big sigh of relief now that terrorism is eradicated. Local businesses are seen reaping the benefits from this tourism boom.
Sadly, there looms a bigger threat to this boom. Sri Lanka’s hotels along the coastal areas and the highlands are overcharging on their room rates. These accommodation rates are as high as USD500 per night. Hoteliers & other accommodation providers please take heed of this warning.
These rate hikes could result in new arrivals finding cheaper accommodation averaging USD 60 per night in destinations like Malaysia, Vietnam & Thailand. Unless checked, exorbitant rate hikes will remain detrimental to Sri Lanka’s tourism industry as whole.
Leisure World Tours arranges tour packages to Jaffna & Trincomalee on a daily basis at very reasonable prices. Please use our Contact Form for tailor made tours.
Reg de Livera
I travelled to Cradle Mountain some years ago with close friends young and old.
There was so much I didn’t know about Tasmania. I wish I had done some research before venturing out. Whatever said and done I will not forget this place. Memories of a fantastic holiday are buried deep down in me.
I learnt that the mountain was declared a national park for the people of all time. It is truly Tasmania’s wilderness world heritage area with its unique landscape, fauna & flora. This is remarkable in many respects.
How could I have not known? Maybe I didn’t really think it was necessary at the time. Now I realize that it’s worth doing some research before travelling to any destination.
We did have some enchanting moments as we strolled along the cascading rivers to dense old growth forests. I attempted to make the journey to the summit but my friends’ overly protective concern for my wellbeing stopped me right away. I had suffered a heart attack a couple of years ago and that was their main worry.
There is an overland track, which you can use by yourself to reach the summit. I would have preferred the services of a guided tour had I learnt about it earlier. However I enjoyed the displays and natural history interpreted at the visitor Centre, which we passed as we travelled towards Dove lake.
I am remembering now as I write this article, nobody in my group ventured out on this challenging journey at least up to the chalet built by Austrian - born Gustav Weisdofer. It is written in Travel Journals that Gustav was supposedly inspired by the sheer magnificence of Cradle Mountain that he built this Chalet in 1912.
Gustav must be disappointed laying in his grave to note that we went all the way to cradle mountain and didn’t take the track leading to his world famous chalet. My apologies.
We did finish the enchanted walk though. We passed along the cascading river, button grasslands, spotted wombat burros while ambulating through the pristine cool and temperate rain forest. We experienced the silence in this cool and dark landscape, which appeared totally different to the tropical rain forests that we were used to.
Tasmanian forests contained some of the most ancient species of Australia’s flora dating back to 60 million years. A period when these continents were joined together as a landmass called Gondwana. I feel left out now. I should have done my research before getting there.
I have to return to this pristine place with my friends once more and spend a day or two exploring Cradle Mountain. To those friends who might come across this article please send in your thoughts and memories of this beautiful trip down under.
Been anywhere recently? Please share your Travel story in my blog. Thank you.