Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Culture Shocked in Sri Lanka

In 2009, I told dad that I'd be going to Sri Lanka. Being the ever-protective father that he is, he argued that there's political unrest in the country and it might not be safe for me to travel alone.

military presence in Sri Lanka

In a letter, I reasoned that I have always traveled by myself and that nothing bad ever happened. Besides, if it's already my time, it does not matter how safe I try to be, God will take me anyway. Jokingly, I said, "I'm sure God will let me marry first before He takes my life." Haha.

It was a nervous laugh.

So last minute, I booked my mom a ticket to Sri Lanka, which is triple the amount of the cheap fare I got for myself. "Uhm, Christmas gift mom." Our trip was first week of November.

As it turned out, there is a strong military presence in the entire country. Everywhere we went, there were uniformed men.

Because I was with mom in this trip, I didn't really rough it. So instead of taking public transportation, we rented a car, and our CS host drove us around for several days around the country. After our visit to Polonnaruwa, we were hailed by military. Our host immediately said that he's showing around "guests" from the Philippines. After hearing the magic word "guests", they instantly let us off. They didn't want to give an impression that Sri Lanka is oppressing travelers or tourists.

check point

As our drive led on to the evening, I noticed that our host blinked the car lights to the motorists heading our way. "To warn the drivers that there's check point ahead," he informed us.

On the lighter side of things, Lankan food must be the hottest cuisine I ever tasted. I was not prepared for it, and during meal times, all I could think of are the words "hot" and "spicy". Oh boy, how my tongue burnt. Bring in the pitcher of milk! or yogurt!

A typical meal is a "hopper" (which could be string noodles or like a very thin curved crepe) served with the spicy stuff: beans or veggies.

Sri Lankan food that burns your tongue!

You know that Sri Lanka used to be Ceylon right? And what comes to mind when you hear that word?


So a trip there would not be complete without a visit to the tea plantations. Coincidentally, we saw some tea pickers walking barefoot along the highway, carrying sacks of a day’s worth of work. These women are paid by weight. I wonder how much they are paid for a sack of tea leaves.

We drove by slowly so I could capture snaps. One woman excitedly ran towards the car shouting, “Money? Money?

local tea pickers in Nuwara Eliya

Finally, the icing on the cake. As mom and I were lounging about reading the local papers, the classified ads caught my attention. Marriage Proposals are published in the newspaper. They charge SriLankan Rupees 500 (roughly US$4 as of this writing) for the first 15 words (exclusive of VAT).

marriage proposals in classified ads 

Here’s a sample:

BRIDEColombo Govi Buddhist established business family, brother seeks a partner for sister, accomplished 37. Very fair, slim, beautiful, steady monthly income 25,000/= dowry 40 lakhs cash, legally divorced after few months plaintiff innocent party. No encumbrances. Similar partner preferred, others also considered. Caste religion immaterial.

Hmm. Would you put your ad in there? 

Other than that, our Lankan vacation is another story to tell. More about that in the coming posts. Stay tuned.

with our Sri Lankan host : Ganegoda family

mom posed with some locals


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