Postcards from Abroad

Whether your dream is to stay in a colonial-era bungalow in the middle of a tea plantation, an Indian princely palace, or to cruise in luxury the Irrawaddy to Mandalay, we never tire of searching for your next great travel destination. This is the place to share with us your most recent adventures.

Sri Lanka - The Notable North by James and Cate Fraser

Thanthirmale Buddhist TempleOn our journey to Mannar Island we stopped off at Thanthirmale Buddhist Temple where we admired the large stupa and a huge ancient carving of a sleeping Buddha in the rock face. Whilst beneath the Bodhi Tree we encountered a loud strange and repetitive sound. It emanated from a very small but beautiful Barbel. We were captivated.

 

 

  

Munnar

Mannar near the edge of nowhere is in the country’s arid zone. It was originally rich owing to the pearl trade but that has dried up; fishing is its mainstay today but it is still very poor. It is dry and dusty with baobabs dotted about; feral donkeys wander aimlessly. The white sand with an abundance of palm trees dominates the landscape whilst gulls, egrets and terns thrive. We spent time observing the fishermen bringing in catches and boarding their boats. The winners - birds especially enjoyed the rich pickings.

Munnar 2 

 Beside the causeway at the entrance to the town stands another crumbling Dutch fort in the process of renovation. Mannar is famous for its birds, particularly migratory species but sadly the flamingoes had long gone. The tall lighthouse cut a lonely figure at Talaimannar Port. The original pier has become a rusty and dangerous relic. It is hard to believe that this used to be the entry and exit point to India 30 km away; the thriving ferry service operated until the 1980’s, sadly a cyclone plus terrorism put a stop to it! It has a heavy naval presence as witnessed by me! I saw the pier and decided to wander through an open building for access. Bit shocked when a guard with a sub-machine gun popped out of nowhere to stop me!

 The tall lighthouse cut a lonely figure at Talaimannar Port

The Palmyra palm symbolises the north of the nation and many are grown here. They are an important part of Tamil culture and used for timber, fencing, handicrafts, rope making, alcoholic drinks, palm sugar and even shampoo!

Next Jaffna the bastion of Hindu/Tamil tradition and culture. Green and leafy with temples and churches. Huge renovated Dutch fort here with wonderful views of the lagoon. Hard to believe It was once a war zone and no-go area for 2 decades. Since 2002 it seems to have sprung back to life.

Sadly yet unavoidably Covid 19 has hit or should I say the news has had a real impact! We are now served by the masked army. Villagers are extremely suspicious and unfriendly banning us from temples etc. All parks and botanical gardens are closed. Walls painted with red and white stripes are a giveaway of a Hindu Temple, frustrating to be barred from Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil but we understand. Really strange to feel like a leper, BUT life goes on and we still are appreciating different sites, sounds and warm weather!

Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil 

Great trip to windswept Delft island spotting wild horses originating from the Dutch mounts. Yes, you have guessed another ruined Dutch fort, a huge Baobab tree, brain and fan coral walls. Our return ferry trip was unusual. Locals were moved away from us on our arrival and this was described as ‘queuing’. Atmosphere was tense, would we be allowed on and would we want to be crammed in a hot, airless hold with all the locals? We waited patiently and luckily we eventually got on,and we’re mightily relieved to find we had to stand or sit outside at the very stern of the ferry. Phew were we glad and relieved to be on deck and in the open air! Very different to our trip out when there was plenty of room inside - christened the “blue hole of Jaffna”!

Delft island 

At another outing we found ourselves at Point Pedro, Sri Lanka’s most northerly point and visited the Kantarodai ruins. These tiny strange mysterious dagobas (stupas) about 1 to 2 metres high are thought to contain the relics of monks.

 Kantarodai ruins

 

Next stop Trincomalee where my father was based during WW2. We remain calm and carry on!

BUT Covid forced us home early!

Sri Lanka - Positive and affectionate reflections ...
Ayubowan! (Greetings) by James and Cate Fraser