Sri Lanka, a tear drop land mass strategically located in the center of the mighty Indian Ocean, has always prided itself in being the Emerald Isle not only, and quite literally, for its jewels but mainly for its natural wealth which has today become the island’s primary revenue generator.
From the deep natural harbours of Trincomalee, to the Dutch fort of Galle and from the Lighthouse of Point Pedro in the north to the lofty Adam’s Peak crowning the center and who could forget the rich wildlife living in parks scattered across the nation. Images of these apart from lonely beaches and rolling tea gardens have decorated many a poster enticing the captivated tourist in search for a valued vacation based on ease.
But with the times changing and when luxury is out and the spirit of adventure is the new in, many tourists are in search of new destinations that offer unique activities that make the vacation worthy of being called an experience. From deep sea dives in quest of the first underwater post office in Vanuatu to visiting a Falcon Hospital in the desserts of Abu Dhabi not to forget wine tasting near the Andean slopes of Chile, people are in search of destinations that make an average tourist transform into an explorer and be one with the local, forging relationships worth cherishing.
But when setting the mood for an experience to remember, seldom does one think of being in the heart of a financial district! But here in Colombo, the business hub of Sri Lanka and a once gated community resurrecting from a civil war that plagued it since independence, one can witness the resilience of the people who believe in a forward direction. And among these pioneers is Ashan Seneviratne of Little Adventures, Sri Lanka.
Having worked in the travel industry for a considerable period and having travelled extensively, Ashan was bewildered by the numerous opportunities the travel industry can offer to tourists locally. From Big Bus tours that connect the city with ease, to cycling, trekking and fishing experiences that bring in the true flavour of the people. He learnt that most tourists are not looking for the “click and go tours” but rather they eat, pray and love feel of a local.
Realising that Sri Lanka was now ready to open its doors with a revamped image coupled with the rise in open spaces and verdant landscapes now promoted in Colombo and his personal love for an adventure, Ashan has started his own venture providing bicycle tours in Colombo apart from other adventure activities. A pioneer in his field, today Ashan is much in demand from travellers and tour companies the world over.
For a reasonable charge, Ashan will provide the excited tourist with the necessary bike and safety gear and after a dosage of safety instructions and a friendly introduction to his home city, he sets off on a pre-planned trail that merge harmoniously with Colombo’s evening traffic where there are not only special bike paths but also safety norms enforced such as when crossing a road on the zebra line one must get off and walk the bike to be treated as a pedestrian and if an accident occurs [not likely] the biker will have the upper hand of a pedestrian!
The Night Cycle tour of Colombo that will last for a few hours, will enable the tourist to sample the various points of historical interests that proclaim both the past, its rejuvenation into the present and its role for the future. From the Old Colombo Clock Tower and Lighthouse to the prison cell of the last King of Kandy and from the Town Hall that is architecturally Sri Lanka’s White House, to the Floating Temple, a symbol of calm in the midst of a bustling city, Ashan makes the journey enriching with his fascinating tales of Sri Lankan history that could give the internet a run for its money with tales of the former Slave Island and the African descendants who still live in communities in Colombo as well as the role the Colombo Race Course played during the Second World War that drove the Japanese away in what is celebrated as the Easter Morning Raid.
And just when the tourist feels he has had enough, he is guided to the open lands of the Galle Face Road where the tour ends over a mini banquet of the local street food samplings of Kothu and deep fried sea food. Here one can recollect the day amidst local families picnicking against the back drop of the setting sun somewhere in the Arabian Sea ahead.
Ashan’s experience may be nouveau for many in Sri Lanka but has caught the attention of many an experience seeker travelling among the trade winds and holds great potential in the success of the Sri Lankan Tourism campaign. It is definitely a must do in Ceylon, tempting the traveller to spend more days exploring the hidden treasures of a city waiting to be discovered.
VIREN DE SA