Sri Lanka Travelogue Part 3
Michael Taylor embarks on his first trip to Sri Lanka, which was formerly known as Ceylon. He is flown there on Singapore Airlines by the Dilmah School of Tea. He enrolls in a five module certificate course in the Appreciation of Tea.
Following more than seven hours in the air, which doesn't include the nearly four hours we spend in transit in Singapore, we arrive in Colombo, Sri Lanka, at about 1.30 am local time - or 4.00 am at our point of origin.
By the time we reach our hotel, it is about 2.30 am (5 am at our point of origin). We get a 6.30 am wake up call.
Are they kidding?
Breakfast is at the hotel, and it is yummy. In addition to the standard fare that you would expect at a four star hotel, there are Sri Lankan and Indian specialities. The fruit is especially tasty.
I especially enjoy the papaya, which is totally ripe - unlike the under ripe papaya that is usually served at hotels in Asia.
Corporate Social Responsibity
Then we are taken by bus to the Moratuwa Centre, which is run by Dilmah as part of its commitment to corporate social responsiblity (CSR).
Located on the outskirts of Colombo, the centre caters to abused women (who live there) and children from the neighborhood (who have Down's syndrome or various types of "different abilities").
We get an enthusiastic welcome from the inmates, who play the drums for us and then engage in a spirited game of cricket.
We are served fresh coconut water and some delicious Sri Lankan snacks. Various other activities take place. It is a heart-warming experience.
Traditional Sri Lankan Welcome
We are then bused to the MJF headquarters, where we get another enthusiastic reception - this time from the employees.
The costumes and dancing are spectacular.
Following the welcoming ceremony, we are served a mouth-watering buffet lunch, which is followed by a video presentation on the company and a hands on lesson in how to enjoy tea in the Tea Department.
Try as I might, I just can't seem to taste those eucalyptus or mint notes that we are told about.
We tour three factories and visit a prototype of a t-bar, which Dilmah is setting up in hotel lobbies and as stand-alone outlets at locations throughout Sri Lanka, the Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Russia.
We are running seriously behind schedule, so there is not enough time for the splash in the swimming pool that I've been looking forward to all day.
There is also a change in plans. We are not having dinner at the hotel. We will dine, instead, at a venue that is located on the other side of town.
This will make a long day even longer.
Fortunately, we get a police escort, which drastically cuts the travel time - and adds a sense of drama to the journey.
Sirens sound and cars make way for us as we head lickety-split through the crowded streets of the Sri Lankan capital.
We arrive sooner than expected. I ask to shake hands with our escort. Talk about a photo opp!
Cocktails and Dinner
First, we are served cocktails on the terrace. A yummy buffet dinner, which is washed down by copious quantities of wine, follows.
Both the cocktails and some of the dishes have Dilmah Tea as ingredients. I particularly like the risotti! I could go for a serving of it as I write!
By the time we get back to the hotel, it is quite late. We face a 6 am wake-up call the next morning, and I am seriously NOT looking forward to it.