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Jo in the resort pool
Jo in the resort pool
Riding the resident elephant
A wedding ceremony
The resort

Sri Lanka's Sunshine Coast

Thursday, April 3, 2003
Get your ticket to one of the hottest destinations on earth — you'll definitely want to add this one to the wish list.

Australian travellers have dedicated themselves to discovering Asia's cultures, cuisines and shopping for quite a few years. They also seem to enjoy the climate of most Asian countries and when not busy shopping or eating, love to relax on a beach or by a hotel pool.

Sri Lanka, sometimes referred to as "the teardrop of India", is fast becoming one of the planet's hottest destinations and now a peace deal has been stuck between the government and the Tamil Tigers, it is a more viable place to visit now than it has been for a long time.

It really does live up to the travel brochures and has palm-fringed beaches, hills covered with tea plantations, exotic wildlife, Buddhist and Hindu temples, Christian churches, mosques and warm and welcoming people dressed in colourful silks.

The hamlet of Ahungalla is actually an ancient fishing village. It is peaceful, its beaches and water are clean, the locals are friendly and the only place to stay is the five-star, architect-designed Triton Hotel. It has all the things you would expect to find in a hotel of its calibre — pools, jacuzzi, restaurants (including one on the beach which barbecues seafood), bars, a health club, massage services, a sauna, gymnasium, tennis courts and shopping areas. Furthermore, each of the 160 rooms has a sea view.

Guest rooms are well-appointed and are air-conditioned. They all have a mini bar, television, telephone and private balcony. And not far from the hotel, guests have the chance to explore an inland oasis on the Maadoowa River Safari.

Also close to Ahungalla is Kosgoda, another fishing village. A hatchery was established there in 1981 to protect the island's turtles from extinction. As many as 20,000 eggs can be laid in a fortnight but as they are easy prey, they are brought to the hatchery and the young turtles released when just two or three days old.

Another interesting outing in the area is a visit to Ambalangoda, famous for the traditional, garishly-painted dance masks which are churned out in profusion there. Also, mature lovers would enjoy a riverboat safari on the mangrove swamp rivers in the area.

Just 100km south of Colombo, Hikkaduwa is a fun coastal town which was discovered by tourists in the 1960s. Its beautiful beaches and clear waters beckon snorkellers and divers who enjoy sharing the laidback life there with colourful fish.

Just off the beach is a collection of tiny islets surrounded by coral formations, attracting many species of fish and large turtles. Four shipwrecks are there for divers to explore and PADI courses and equipment are available in local dive shops.

The Coral Gardens Hotel is not particularly attractive, but for young westerners looking for a good time, it is simply perfect. All 154 rooms face the Indian Ocean and there is a large pool with bar. Buffet meals are laid out three times a day and there is a theme each night — maybe Chinese, maybe Mongolian barbecue — but the house specialty is baked crab with ginger sauce.

Shops dotted along the road sell batik, gems, jewellery, carvings and cheap clothing.

Location

Sri Lanka, off India's south coast.

Cost

Taprobane Island costs about $1530 a night and sleeps up to ten.
Sun House Hotel rooms start at around $165 a double a night. Rooms at the Dutch House start at around $520 a double a night.
Adventure World offers seven night tours to Sri Lanka starting at $2155 ex Perth, $2157 ex Melbourne and Brisbane, $2177 ex Sydney and $2203 ex Adelaide. Return airfares, twin share accommodation, taxes and some meals and transfers are included.
SriLankan Airlines in conjunction with Qantas flies daily to Sri Lanka via Singapore.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Adventure World
PO Box 480, North Sydney, 2059
Ph: (02) 8913 0755 Fax: (02) 9956 7707
www.adventureworld.com.au
info@adventureworld.com.au

Maadowa River Safari
Jayantha Boat Service
193 Galle Road, Balapitiya, Sri Lanka
Ph: 94 9 57638

SriLankan Airlines Reservations
Sydney: 02 9244 2234
Melbourne: 03 9920 3882
Brisbane: 07 3407 7276
Perth: 08 9229 9212
Adelaide: 08 8306 8411
www.srilankan.lk

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