Sri Lanka 2013: Lonely’s Planet’s Hot Destination

It’s great to see Sri Lanka has built back better after the 2004 tsunami and has put behind the conflict years to hit the Lonely Planet’s No. 1 spot as the hot destination for 2013.  It seemed right for me to rummage through my archives for some shots off the beaten tracks in Lanka I was lucky enough to visit as part of my work then. And I of course needs to add some recent pics of my favourite home town Hikkaduwa.

Post tsunami Paddy fields were thriving in Ampara supported by improved irrigation fields. Visiting the East coast of Lanka after many years and Ampara for the first time it was good to see that farmers now came to work on motorbikes.

Paddy field Ampara. 2010 Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Heeloya, Watawala  is a small village, that generates its own electricity from a micro hydro project under the Renewable Energy for Rural Economic Development Project supported by the World Bank in Sri Lanka. When we visited there were 52 households and the villagers manage the micro hydro project through their Electricity Consumers Association.

Fresh water spout on the path to the village of Heeloya, Sri Lanka. circa 2008. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Sunset at Heeloya. circa 2008. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Post tsunami Hikkaduwa is back in business.

Hikka hotel on the beach, Hikkaduwa. 10 October, 2012. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Entrance to the Poseidon Diving Station next to our house. October 10,2012. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Dasu’s hut run by Aslin Akka’s granddaughter. Hikkaduwa. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

I met the young lass who runs this place a couple of years ago post tsunami. It was then a one story cafe. Siriniwasa was still not repaired and when I asked her how she was she replied saying they had bounced back faster from the tsunami than us. I didn’t know who she was then. It was only later that I learned she was Aslin Akka’s granddaughter. When I was growing up in the 50’s, Hikkaduwa, was a small fishing hamlet. Aslin Akka’s house was opposite ours and then it was a coconut leaf thatched cottage. She earned her living from making coir ropes out of coconut husks. A hard working woman, we’d see her in the garden working.  I last saw Aslin akka, when she came to my father’s funeral about a decade ago. She herself was very sick, barely able to walk but had insisted on coming to pay her last respects for my father. Seeing this cafe and how her granddaughter has made a success of it is a joy for me. This is a living example of how in a span of half a century lives have improved in Sri Lanka through free education and poverty reduction efforts.

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