Health and food

Before the departure check with your doctor if you need any vaccination and bring with you the list of the vaccinations you have.

We had some vaccinations for India (tetanus and typhoid) we didn’t do malaria or hepatitis b, even if it was reccomended.

There are no compulsory vaccinations to enter Sri Lanka, so it’s up to you.

In our opinion, doctors tend to exaggerate the risks and we decided that we did the least possible! For the malaria, which is the big dilemma, we used anti mosquito creams, nets and mats machine.
To be sure, check the health website of your own country (for Italians http://www.saluter.it/campagne/201csalute-in-viaggio201d and http://www.viaggiaresicuri.it/)

What to pack? We suggest some pain killers or antipyretic (ibuprofen, paracetamol, acetylsalicylic acid) something for motion sickness (there are some good homeopathic ones) one antibiotic. Remeber that you can find all this in the pharmacies in Sri Lanka (and cheaper)!
One common problem for travellers in Asian countries is the diarrhea! the famous (and infamous) traveller’s diarrhea! Oh yes!

Once we arrived in Sri Lanka we did not suffer from it, since we had shitted the hell out of ourself in India already! One good old remedy is to eat many bananas (it works) and buy the electrolytes salts from the pharmacies. You can also add 5 teaspoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt to 1 litre of water (boiled or bottled).

When you have diarrhea you have to drink a lot of water and salts and keep eating light foods. Dehydration is the biggest problem.

I (Alice) had diarrhea for 9 days in India and I thought It would never stop! But it does, if you use the right antibiotics.  So if doctors give you one that doesn’t really work on you, change it!!! I could have felt better faster, but I kept taking the wrong antibiotic for too many days.

We remind you, as you already know, to drink bottled water. It is something we hate, for the plastic we create, but up to now there’s no other good option. Tap water is not safe. We met one brave traveller from Singapore that used to drink tap water and he was fine, but even Sri Lankan people will reccomend you the bottles. Sergio drank once a glass of tap water and he had diarrhea that night, we assumed that it was the water.

Let’s talk about FOOD!

One of the reasons why we loved our experience in Sri Lanka was fruits! They have many incredible, delicious, rich fruits. The sweetest, the most beautiful, the most mouthwatering fruits you can immagine!

Of course it is the type of fruits we call “tropical”: pineapples, mangoes, papayas, passionfruits, avocadoes, coconuts, melons, watermelons, grapes and many many more that we had never seen befo

re! Like roseapples, cashew fruit, dragon fruit, mangosteen, rambutan, soursop…

We strongly reccomend to drink 1 coconut a day (keeps the doctor away) and 1 fruit juice a day (they are extremely common) because it boosts your immune system and it’s just delicious.

The typical food in Sri Lanka is the rice and curry. This is a plate with plain rice and different types of curries (condiments) usually vegetarians or with fish and extremely spicy, sometimes accompanied by papadum, which is a light fried crisp cracker. It is similar to the Indian thali (for whom is familiar with Indian cousine) but less rich in variations. Rice and curry is the main meal of the day and you will find it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For breakfast sometimes they have hoppers: they’re a kind of crepes made from coconut milk,  they can be filled with one egg or they can be sweet with honey. There

‘s also the string hopper which is made with the rice and it looks like small noodles. Another breakfast thing is the pittu which is cilindric, made of flour and coconut and steamed, it is to eat with a super hot sauce and sambol (a spicy coconut preparation).

You’ll find hoppers also in the afternoon, with milk tea, or paratha, which is the most common bread: when it’s plain it’s a round flat bread very oily; when it’s stuffed, it’s square or triangular filled with vegetables.

For dinner there’s the kottu (that we loved), it is made from a bread called roti, which is similar to paratha, mixed with vegetables, eggs, or meat and spices. An optional spicy gravy is usually served with a kottu rotti. It is traditional to make the kottu on a heated iron sheet, used specifically for the purpose, and the kottu is chopped and mixed using two blunt metal blades. This clashing of metal on metal creates a very distinctive sound, and the beat of kottu being prepared can be heard rising up from any small roadside restaurant in Sri Lanka (source: http://en.wikipedi

a.org/wiki/Kottu). We ventured into the preparation of kottu in a restaurant, among the laughter of chefs and customers! The joyful moments with the locals are the one that you’ll enjoy the most! Another common dish for dinner is the fried rice, with vegetable, egg or meat. Chicken buryani is a popular yellow rice with a lot of spices.

For a nice link with pictures and descriptions of Sri Lankan foods: http://www.lankalibrary.com/food.shtml

The typical sweets were not inviting (for us), usually super fried or overly sweet but we enjoyed the freshly baked croissants and breads from the bakery vans that ran around the villages!

We were disappointed by the use of tea: we espected the use of high quality ceylon tea (for all their plantations) but we discovered a large use of  “Nestea” and powdered low quality teas, always too sweet for our taste.

Almost all the production of the famous Ceylon tea is for worldwide export, for the palate of us, rich Westerners.


Arrack
is the most famous liquor made of fermented coconut flowers. It’s very popular among the male population and Sri Lanka is the world’s largest producer of coconut arrack.

Coconut is the most widelyused product of the country: they extract water, milk, the pulp, the butter, the oil, the wood, the leaves, the fibers, they use everything of it!

Fresh fish is a must to try. We had the opportunity to cook for ourselves so we enjoyed many delicious and cheap fish! We ate enormous tiger prawns, sword fish, mahi mahi etc. If you order fish at the local restaurant probably you will be disappointed, usually it’s fried and full of fishbones. At the tourist restaurants you’ll eat grilled fish or other common preparations, but it was out of budget for us (around 600LKR for a plate).

Alice loves curd especially buffalo curd! It’s yogurt, it is fabulous plain, but if you add a little honey and some fresh fruits and nuts it’s like a trip to heaven.

Sergio loves the spices, he likes hot food and Sri Lanka is the land of spices and super hot meals! You’ll find superb fresh spices at a very affordable price! When I (Alice) returned home with a pack of spices for my mother, as soon as I told her the prices she complained: “you should have bought more!”.  We visited a spice garden, where you can see the plants and their fruits. If you want to learn more check this website: http://www.srilankanspices.com/

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