Fruit with Attitude
This is the month for curious fruit in Sri Lanka, exotic delicacies found only in the tropics. It’s the season for durian, mangosteen and rambutan, a trio of odd looking fruit with attitude, apparently to deter people from eating them.

 
Durian on display

Durian on display

 

Durian is as famous for its off-putting pong as for its ambrosial custard-like taste. It’s to be found on sale by roadsides, especially on the road to Kandy, where a vendor skilled in durian dealing, will crack open the hard prickly green shell and prize out the flesh-coddled seeds for the brave to devour. Wash your hands afterwards to avoid the smell trailing you all the way home.

From the moment you enter the wooden gates, the gentle breeze and the wide open green spaces just wash you over with a sense of peace and calm that cannot be brushed aside. This feeling would continue even through the welcome by the gracious and smiling hosts and the refreshing drink of thambili and it continues to…well, let’s say I was just happily sailing in a sea of calm!

Palpatha

Palpatha

When we decided to take a break and get out of Colombo and all its noise, we didn’t imagine the serenity of Palpatha, speckled with the many calls of the rich bird life in the area would be such a big change. But clearly, we thought wrong. The silence was overwhelming and yet welcome. The spacious lounge area at this retreat was easy on the eye with little coloured cushions that simply beckoned me to come lie down and relax…perhaps even fall asleep.

Rest-houses
For a taste (literally) of colonial Ceylon, I go to one of the few rest-houses that remain which are found in towns in the interior of the country. These were originally bungalows developed by the British colonial administration as a network of cheap accommodation and meals for travelling officials. They were usually built in superb locations, each within a day’s march or horse ride from one another.

 

The traditional rest-houses that remain today are government-owned, leased either to urban councils or private organisations. They have long had a reputation for genuine local food (rice and curry of course) and low-cost snacks (like devilled beef). However, some rest-houses have moved upmarket to cater for well-heeled tourists.

 
Entrance to the Padukka Resthouse

Entrance to the Padukka Resthouse