Thursday, 4 March 2010
STILL HIDDEN GEM..
Just returned from Sri Lanka. I'm relieved to be home. It was sort of tales of the unexpected as there was no set itinerary before I left and seven journalists arrived at the airport not knowing where they were staying or indeed what they would be doing from one day to the next. You expect that sort of thing in a war zone but not on a press travel trip where the PR usually wants you to write about seamless service, melting pots of hidden gems using every possible lyrical adjective and metaphor imaginable. Talking of gems - Sri Lanka is known for it's gems - moonstones, sapphires and and anything semi precious. One of the journalists was accused of stealing one of the hidden gems (probably because it was so well hidden the shop owner couldn't find it), which left a sour taste in everyone's mouth - ironic considering it happened in a town called Kandy. Sri Lanka is also a place where people chill. It's a chill out place, spiritual place. Where people connect with nature again. Perhaps as a result you've got quite a few retreats designed for those who want to connect with nature again - ie go back to basics (hygiene, food) although the price you pay tends to suggest for less you pay so much more. We visited a retreat where guests can live in mud huts and live off vegetarian food, and do yoga twice a day. Monks live in the nearby hills and there are oxen in the nearby fields. Visually the place is stunning. The teacher came from just up the road from me. She was good, but I felt why go to Sri Lanka when I can go just up the road. At least I'll know what to expect. I asked the owner what sort of people visit the retreat as it wasn't particularly cheap. She told me lawyers and bankers, and media. They should put that in their brochure, or perhaps that's why they don't. But at least it would manage expectations. I'm sure Sri Lanka is a gem, just that it needs to be seen in the right light, in the right setting