SRI LANKA – Among Buddhism, tropical forests and beaches trying to avoid tourists

A COUNTRY EASY TO TRAVEL

A few days were enough to give me the idea that this country is very easy to visit compared to neighboring India … it is easy to move around the country, the bus stations are not crowded and the pace is undoubtedly more relaxed. You have the idea of traveling at a slow, relaxed pace, but mind you, this does not mean that adventures are not always around the corner, as well as the unexpected, even here as in any part of the world, there are adventures, but even misadventures, and it is precisely the latter that sometimes lead you to get to know a country and its people in a more authentic way.

I could see how the locals, the Sinhalese, are curious and kind people, ready to help the foreigner. A people that despite the sufferings of the past, which has dismissed it from the world tourism scene for many years due to the bloody struggles also mentioned in the book “In Asia” by Tiziano Terzani, has opened up to the gates of the world.

A green and lush island, where Buddhism is very present. it is incredible how despite the size of this island it contains many wonders… Buddhist sites, spiritual and significant places like the tree where Buddha is said to have received the lighting, lush and generous hinterland, tropical beaches, colonial cities, good food.

From the site of Mihintale in the North, which houses the oldest stupa in Sri Lanka and which offers breathtaking views, to Sigirya and the surrounding areas up to Polonnaruwa; to the Nine Arch Bridges, a viaduct bridge, one of the best examples of colonial-era railways in the country. And then the Little Adam’s Peak, from whose top you can admire breathtaking views, certainly one of my favorite places in the beautiful colonial town of Galle. The internal and rural areas of this country are nothing short of wonderful and the color of green shines as does its bright sun.

Many tourists go to Sri Lanka especially for its tropical beaches, but it is good to know that the southwest coast is the one where, although there are good looking quiet beaches without many comforts, there are beaches oriented to tourism and tourists where there are hotels and restaurants. It seems that the east coast is instead less developed from the tourist point of view, however, it is subject to monsoon rains when in the North and West there is a perfect climate.

You already seem to have guessed that in my opinion, the only flaw in this country is tourism, a tourism that has managed to change the soul of some places in a short time. It is as if many of the beautiful places in the country have been sold to Instagram to its Influencers …

I guess it is precisely the ease of traveling in this country that probably causes travelers or backpackers around Asia or the world to pass through here, but at the same time vacationers, those who pass from here to go on vacation to the sea and expect to have the same services in their countries.

TOURISTIC PLACES AND TOURISM

Some examples? Mirissa. A beach became famous and photographed for its sunsets, is full of restaurants and clubs, and of European or Western people, few local people, if not, nothing. Dalawella Beach, this beach has become famous for a swing hanging from a palm tree, to go there obviously you have to pay a fee and you have to wait for your turn, yes, because to be photographed you have to wait, waiting for the Influencer girls, change clothes and styles to post the best photo on the web, all missing spectacular sunsets.

Or even the beach where Steve McCurry photographed the famous fishermen, has become another place of income .. here the fishermen have understood that they earn more by asking tourists for money to pose rather than go fishing. The famous Candy-Ella train has become so famous that it is now always crowded, so much so that the locals sometimes cannot find their place, while foreigners clinging ad hoc for photos take photos.

In Sigiriya tourism goes hand in hand with the exploitation of animals. Here I saw elephants with chains ready to be used to walk tourists. As I wrote in my “Manifesto for sustainable and responsible tourism” and as I will elaborate further on with other posts, traveling or visiting a country must not involve the exploitation of animals such as that of the environment and local people.

But not only, but also here, as has been happening for some years in India, particularly in Goa, the rich of the world, in this case, the Russians, are changing the identity of some places.

Having said that, it is obvious that it is a good thing that a Country has found a form of livelihood in tourism, but this should take place NOT at the expense of its cultural identity, not at the expense of the environment, and of society. Tourism must be redesigned to make it more sustainable and ethical. Tourism must be an opportunity without becoming a form of pressure.

If I can, I will return to Sri Lanka, concentrating on all those areas not frequented by tourists and therefore not very famous, perhaps trying to go deeper into rural areas. For the moment I will keep in my mind the dazzling green of this lovely island…

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