A VIEW FROM SRI LANKA, Number 82
Greetings from Sri Lanka. I’ve been travelling a lot the past few days: to Maldives for a quick visit, and by Air Force flight to and from Jaffna.
Made in Sri Lanka
Famed for its natural herbal medicaments and therapies, Sri Lanka produces many intriguing aids to good health. Neel bought this one, Medisole Cinnamon with Bee Honey, because it claims to be effective for people with high cholesterol and diabetes.
On the box it says “Medisole ayurvedic medicinal herbal formula has made of true Sri Lankan cinnamon (Cinamomum zeylanicum) and pure bee honey.” The recommended dosage is one teaspoonful twice a day. As you can see from this photograph, with cinnamon quills, it is an unappetising brown in colour and it happens to taste dry and gritty. I think I prefer cinnamon as seasoning in a curry rather than with honey!
Instead of featuring a dessert this week, here is something that looks just as delicious, the bread and dips presented free with dinner at The Sea View, the fine dining restaurant of the Vivanta By Taj hotel on the beach at Bentota. I don’t eat bread any more (that gluten!) but enjoyed tasting the dips which, left to right, were basil pesto, sundried tomato and mushroom puree.
For my main course I had the New Zealand Rack of Lamb. That’s a dish served so many different ways in Sri Lanka but in this case (on a bed of wild mushrooms and chunky mashed potatoes) it tasted better than it looks, being tender and oozing flavour. It cost Rs4,100 (£ 23.42; US$ 37.27) so perhaps the bread wasn’t free after all!
I was in the Maldives again last week, at Kurumba only a few minutes speedboat ride from the airport and the oldest resort in the Maldives, which celebrates its 40 Anniversary in October next year. One of the astonishing features of Kurumba is its lushness. This has been nurtured over the years, turning a former coconut plantation island into a veritable botanical garden.
It was amazing to see an orchid nursery has been created on what was formerly a castaways-style desert island, proving how with care and attention anything is possible in the Maldives. The plant that most fascinated me was the Staghorn Fern, shown below in detail.
According to Wikipedia, a mature staghorn can grow more than 1 metre wide. “When positioned well, Platycerium species are able to add focal points, privacy, and a tropical look to gardens.” The one that impressed me so much at Kurumba apparently came from Sri Lanka, so now we are searching for one to cultivate and hang on my veranda.
Flying to Jaffna
Regular readers will recall I went to Jaffna by road a few weeks ago (No. 69). Well, I’ve just returned from a flying visit by Sri Lankan Air Force Helitours prop jet Antonov AN328 aircraft of a certain age that noisily growled its way there on time, but was two hours late for the return trip.
The flight left from the Air Force side of the Bandaranaike International Airport where facilities are well handled, and landed at Palaly Airfield in Jaffna. There, arriving passengers were transferred by a rickety bus for a couple of miles through a high security zone to the public car park.
The plane had an equivalent of business class with about ten seats, which is where paying passengers sat (it cost Rs19,500 [£ 108.57; US$177.27] return), while the rest of the aircraft had metal seats that folded down from the side walls and were filled with military and police personnel. A tip: take sandwiches, a bottle of water, and earplugs to make the 45-minute flight bearable.
A little bird (of course) told me that Expo Aviation will start commercial flights with Cessna Caravan aircraft at least once a day from January 2012. I stayed at the company’s Expo Pavilion – Margosa, a charming boutique bungalow guesthouse some 10 minutes from the airport and 15 minutes from Jaffna town.
It is one of the few guesthouses I would be happy to stay at again. With four double rooms (two double beds in each one at Rs7,500 with breakfast a night) and two singles, with some rooms having open-air rain showers, it is soothingly decorated in saffron and burgundy, furnished with rugged antiques and cement settles, and run with care and attention with enjoyable Jaffna cooking and keen Jaffna youths in courteous attendance.
11.11.11 Corduroy Ahoy!
This Friday is an important date to remember as it is World Corduroy Day, the date that most resembles the wales – ridges – of Corduroy fabric, as being celebrated by The Corduroy Appreciation Club of the USA (www.corduroyclub.com). This is a social club that endeavours to cultivate good fellowship by the advancement of Corduroy awareness, understanding, celebration and commemoration of the fabric and all related items.
Like the 3,500 members of the society worldwide, I adore Corduroy. Alas, there’s not much chance to wear Corduroy in Sri Lanka but I have dug out a Corduroy bush jacket and heavy Corduroy brown trousers (both bought in Paris a decade ago) to wear on Corduroy Friday.
If there are 10 other Corduroy fans in Sri Lanka (so we have the necessary minimum of 11 members) we could form a chapter of the club here to commemorate 11.11.11.
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