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The Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya

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I was a little agitated by the $10 entry fee for the Peradeniya Botanic Gardens, but it didn’t take me long after entering to realize that it was money well-spent. Peradeniya’s are the most fantastic botanic gardens I’ve ever seen. Trees the size of sky-scrapers, flower bushes exploding in incredible color, giant palm trees that bloom just once in 45 years, and cannon ball trees with heavy round fruits were just some of the highlights. I’ve never been so bowled over by botany.

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The origins of this 150-acre park stretch back to 1371 when King Wickramabahu III established a residence here, and remained part of the royal grounds until the end of Kandyan independence. But although the British destroyed the palace, they also protected the area by designating it an official botanic garden.

We spent a happy couple hours exploring the park. Alone, the famous orchid house was worth a half-hour. Over 500 varieties of the fragile flower are nurtured here. Outside, we passed under trees with bending branches supporting fruit bats the size of Smart Cars. After venturing onto a wobbly suspension bridge extending over the river which borders the garden, a long avenue lined with royal palms led us to The Great Lawn, whose lone, lonely resident is a beautiful Java Fig Tree.

I’ll stop prattling on in the hopeless attempt to describe the garden’s beauty with words, and let our pictures do the talking. Suffice to say, if you’re anywhere near Kandy during your trip to Sri Lanka, plan in a stop at the Peradeniya Royal Botanic Garden.

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February 19, 2012 at 12:48 pm Comments (8)

Galle Face Green

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Laid out in 1857 by the British governor Sir Henry Ward, Galle Face Green is a park separating the hectic life of Colombo and the Indian Ocean. The green is the city’s largest open space and a popular spot during sunset, when hundreds of Sri Lankans come to fly kites, play cricket and eat ice cream.

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We walked along the green one evening, just as the sun was tucking itself behind the clouds over the ocean. One of the great things about Sri Lanka’s being so close to the equator is that the sun rises and sets around the same time all year round. So regardless of when you’re visiting Colombo, make sure to head to Galle Face Green at around 6:30pm. If you get lucky, you’ll enjoy a spectacular sunset and marvel as the city turns a strange, deep shade of crimson.

At the end of the green is the historic Galle Face Hotel, a beautiful lodging which retains much of its colonial charm. The hotel’s best feature is its veranda, with chairs and tables facing out to sea. Unsurprisingly, it’s one of the city’s most popular spots for an evening drink. We sat down and, after sending the waiter to fetch a couple Three Coins lagers, felt as though we’d fallen back through time. So this is how the British lords of colonial Ceylon lived. Not bad. The breeze coming off the ocean was wonderful, the beers cold and delicious, the view unbeatable, the service spectacular, and the other patrons well-dressed and in pleasant moods. I doubt there’s a better way to cap off a busy day in Colombo.

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February 11, 2012 at 6:13 am Comments (4)
The Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya I was a little agitated by the $10 entry fee for the Peradeniya Botanic Gardens, but it didn't take me long after entering to realize that it was money well-spent. Peradeniya's are the most fantastic botanic gardens I've ever seen. Trees the size of sky-scrapers, flower bushes exploding in incredible color, giant palm trees that bloom just once in 45 years, and cannon ball trees with heavy round fruits were just some of the highlights. I've never been so bowled over by botany.
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