Post-war Jaffna among must-see places in island

Updated 29 April 2014

Post-war Jaffna among must-see places in island

The Jaffna Peninsula is a 400-square-mile tract of colorful temples and barren, strange spectacular landscapes in northern Sri Lanka that have only recently opened to tourists after the 26-year civil war. You get to see the reminders of the war all around.
Ethnic Tamils living in the northern Sri Lankan city of Jaffna are recovering fast from the devastation caused during the country’s 26-year long civil war, which ended in 2009. Large-scare development projects are under way.
Lankan Spice Gardens: Sri Lanka has always been famed for its spices and several spices gardens around the island. Take a walk through trees, plants and native herbs, all of which are the secrets behind Sri Lankan food and spices. The spice gardens have a traditional open kitchen where the spices are grinded and a mini restaurant where traditional Sri Lankan food is cooked and served.
During early historical times, Sri Lanka was well-known globally for its quality spices. In ancient times, the Greeks, Romans and the Arabic sustained their associations with Sri Lanka through the spice trade.
Spice Gardens in the hill capital Kandy, Matale and Mawanella give remarkable insight into spice production in Sri Lanka. Spices used in Sri Lankan cuisine consist of cinnamon,cardamom, pepper, cloves, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek, cumin,sweet cumin, curry leaves, lemon grass and gamboge.
Galle Fort lighthouse and ramparts: The lighthouse in Galle is Sri Lanka’s oldest light station dating back to 1848. Being a UNESCO world heritage site and well known tourist attraction, the light station is within the walls of the ancient Galle fort, making it the country’s most often visited lighthouse.
The magnificent Galle fort was initially built by the Portuguese in 1588. The fort was equipped by Dutch in 17th century and was visited by the Chinese, Greeks, Arabs and Indians for business and commercial trading purposes.
The centerpiece of Galle is the Dutch Fort. It stands majestically alongside the southern coast of Sri Lanka. The Galle Fort covers an area of 36 hectares and hems in the Dutch museum, the maritime museum, the lighthouse, a clock tower, churches, mosques and several hundred private dwellings.
Whale-watching at Mirissa: If you haven’t heard of it yet, this is the best place to see blue whales. Mirissa is one of the whale watching hubs of Sri Lanka. Many tourists visiting Sri Lanka have been taking a side trip to Mirissa to do some whale and dolphin watching.
Visitors are taken on boat rides to do the whale watching, while maintaining a distance to get a better view of the ocean inhabitants.
Chances are that you will get a sight of Blue Whales, Fin Whales and even Sperm whales in these waters along with a variety of dolphins.
Pettah commercial market: The Pettah market is one of Colombo’s most popular and hectic open-air market, where you can buy various goods including local products and food and what not.
It’s perhaps the best place in Colombo to get introduced into the local Sri Lankan hurly-burly, to gulp down the hums and aromas, and to get a taste of life in Colombo.
This fresh market doesn’t only stop at selling edibles but a combination of electronics and dvd’s, knick knacks, lots of clothing for low-prices , a huge section of fresh produce and huge crowds of people.


The deluxe delights of Mandarin Oriental Jumeira

The hotel is located on Jumeirah Beach Road across from Mercato shopping mall. (Supplied)
Updated 06 December 2019

The deluxe delights of Mandarin Oriental Jumeira

  • New arrival justifies its place in Dubai’s already packed luxury hotel roster

DUBAI: Does Dubai really need another luxury hotel? If you had to pause to think about it, then you’re not Dubai. Four Seasons? We’ll take two, please. One&Only? Go on, give us two more. Ritz-Carlton and Waldorf Astoria? Oh why not, we’ll take two each. 

And yet, until earlier this year, one might say there was a gap in Dubai’s collection for a Mandarin Oriental, a hotel for all great hotel cities. 

It’s here now, located on Jumeirah Beach Road across from Mercato shopping mall and beside a drive-through Starbucks. It’s easy to miss the modern low-rise building perched just off the sidewalk because of its subtle (possibly a new addition to Dubai’s dictionary) daytime presence.

The seafront suite at Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai is one of a kind. (Supplied)

It is only after dark that it becomes more remarkable, when a forest of crystal trees lights up its lobby, and it sparkles like a jewel box through the glass from the sidewalk right through to the beach. 

There are further design delights in my deluxe sea-view room, which has a balcony overlooking the pool area. The centerpiece is the soaker tub in its expansive marble bathroom — which is almost the size of the sleeping area that it opens onto — complete with handily placed heated towel rack. My enthusiasm for the bath is momentarily dulled when sand-colored water gushes from the tap, but this is fixed by a few technicians who respond immediately when I call.

The hotel has luxurious bathrooms and interior. (Supplied)

Although I’m not usually impressed by hotel-room technology — too often fancy light switches only complicate a simple matter — this room has a few stand-out features. The curtains open and close automatically not only with a bedside button, but also when I go to part them; the lights in the walk-in closet turn on automatically upon entering; and even the blow dryer is touch-activated. 

It’s not just the technology that demonstrates attention to detail. The closet contains a yoga mat and beach bag. On the desk, there’s a small stack of books, including Peter Frankopan’s  “The New Silk Roads.” There’s also a box of coffee-table-sized books that turns out to be four hefty room-service menus: Middle Eastern, Asian, International and Healthy. All of which meant there was little reason to leave the room, if it wasn’t for a dinner reservation at Netsu, the hotel’s Japanese restaurant.

The curtains open and close automatically not only with a bedside button, but also when you go to part them. (Supplied)

An event in itself, Netsu is equipped with a glass-walled warayaki cooking theater, where chefs grill wagyu beef on a 900-degree fire. My friend and I are seated at a bar facing the glass, where we watch them stoking the fire with rice straw brought in from Japan. The tender meat is uniquely flavored, proving that it’s more than just a show for Instagram.

It would be hard to find more self-assured service than the kind shown to us by our waiter, Nick, who is definitive in his starter recommendations. “I won’t take no for an answer,” he tells us, and we’re pleased he didn’t. The Korean fried chicken, corn tempura and yellowtail tiradito are all worth their place on the signature tasting menu.

Netsu is equipped with a glass-walled warayaki cooking theater. (Supplied)

Breakfast in The Bay, the hotel’s brasserie-style restaurant facing the beach, makes less of an impression. While there was nothing wrong with the buffet, the staff seem oddly perplexed by my request to order à la carte. 

And while a peaceful day by the pool was threatened by a few loud teenagers throwing balls, the adult-only infinity pool on the rooftop, for hotel guests only, provided much-needed escape. At first it seemed odd that it was stationed outside the windows of Tasca, the Portuguese restaurant by Michelin-star chef José Avillez. But as the kitchen prepared for dinner, a waiter brought out small tasters, including avocado tempura, for the sunbathers to enjoy on our cushy daybeds with a vast view of the sunset over the Arabian Gulf.

So while Dubai might not need another luxury hotel, it can certainly use this one. To borrow the Mandarin Oriental’s slogan, I can definitely say: “I’m a fan.”