Live with a Local Family in a Homestay
From the moment guests arrive at the beautiful mountain village homestay in Kandy and until they say good-bye, their days are filled with experiences that go beyond ordinary tourist indulgences. From sleeping in a tree house or a traditional wattle and daub mud house to waking up with the birds, enjoying traditional Sri Lankan cuisine prepared from fresh ingredients to bathing at the natural waterspout, visiting the local market and thereafter cooking a Sri Lankan meal with the host or enjoying a ‘Kottu’ treat (a popular Sri Lankan street food); its nothing short of a true Sri Lankan immersion at its best!
Adding fervour to this experience is the visits to the village homes to see, learn and experience how the local community endeavour to make a living, especially the womenfolk who indulge in various cottage industries striving to make ends meet.
Walking along tree lined roads and narrow footpaths will bring you to the homes of the village folk where a warm welcome awaits, with an invitation to share some time while they display their flairs.
The family run village bakery headed by the father who counts over 40 years of experience having been in the industry from his teenage days. He is ably supported by his wife, daughter and son who carryout various responsibilities. Guests can meet the family; see how bread and other confectionaries are made, watch it being baked in the traditional wood fire oven and even lend a hand in making some. On returning later in the day you will be enticed by the aroma of freshly baked treats! Walkaway for evening tea with a bagful of baked goodies!!
Our next stop would be to an incompletely built house where a family of five live. They have hopes and dreams of completing the building of their home, but not just yet. It’s here they hand-make perfumed incense sticks to be sold in the city. The mother in her early forties is the key person behind the production. She’s been doing it from when she was just little and counts over thirty years of experience. Watching her at work is awe-inspiring; at lightening speed she rolls the bamboo stick on the tacky paste made of wood powder, charcoal powder and natural wood glue and makes close to 10,000 incense sticks perfumed and packed in little colourful boxes, all in a matter of 10 - 12 hours. Her husband plays the salesman role while the children chip in when they return from school.
We will next see how baskets and mats are weaved using dried coconut palms. These baskets are commonly used in village homes for sun drying produce such as pepper, cloves and cinnamon amongst other practical uses. It is an economical and environmentally friendly choice when compared to similar products available for sale. Watching her at work seated on the ground as she weaves her way through using both hands and even legs to support the weaving process. Being labour intensive and time consuming it takes close to 2 hours to complete a large basket. This cottage industry empowers this mother of three to fulfil her children’s educational obligations and help supplement the family income.
Recycling used coconut shells is what you would witness next. This time it is the father of a family of four who heads the small business with his wife ably supporting him. They together turn out intriguing coconut shell spoons of various sizes, tea cups, dessert bowls, salt containers and various interesting ornaments. Most of the produce they sell locally and if they are lucky enough they might get an overseas order. This again is a time and labour consuming operation but is well worth the effort if they can get a suitable price for their hard work.
Next you would visit a home-based, family owned sweetmeat-producing facility. Watch the sticky dough being mixed with sweet kithul treacle, spices and freshly ground rice flour and hey presto! The sweets take shape, every one of them an art by itself that requires patience and skill. Kokis a thin, crispy crunchy snack, Kavum or oil cakes made of soft and smooth batter and diamond shaped moon Kavum made of Moong dhal, Undu Vel dripping with sweet treacle and many more lip-smacking delicacies.
To welcome you next is a husband and wife-farming duo running a small vegetable and spice farm. They along with a few farmhands tend the farm, which produces local vegetables, chilli peppers, tapioca, spices, Kitul products, fruits and vanilla beans amongst other intriguing crops. Stroll around the farm as you listen to the farmer explaining different plants, its medicinal and nutritive values. Watch in awe as he climbs the Kithul Tree to tend the Kithul flower that producers the sap from which Kithul Jaggery and Treacle is made. After an interesting tour sit down to enjoy freshly boiled tapioca yam and a cup of sweetened black tea.
We would next visit the village Ayurveda Clinic where a qualified lady doctor practices this over 3000 year native system of healing using herbs, plants and oils. Here you can learn about the natural cures, herbal treatments and even Chinese Acupuncture. They also offer wellness treatments such as head, foot and body massage, herbal steam bath and facial treatments. If you wish to, you can indulge in some soothing natural goodness that promises to relax and rejuvenate.
Visit a family run hopper boutique on the street side of the quaint village. Lit up with twinkling lights and boosted with the sounds of popular local music, it’s the place for a true Sri Lankan Hopper experience. This small boutique is the main source of income for this family. The lady’s day begins very early with delicious breakfast offerings of rotti, string hoppers and wholesome green-leaf porridge. Early evening she starts her pan hopper stint, watch her pour the batter in the smoking pan and swirl it around, sometimes adding an egg in the centre. Enjoy some crispy hoppers with onion sambol before you leave.
Once every week a group of villagers (children and adults aged from 5 to 55 years) meet up for a two-hour session of active English speaking, a voluntary program conducted on behalf of the village children. It’s everybody’s desire to speak proper English fluently and this is exactly what happens here. It’s not anything like a school session; it’s a fun way of learning, filled with activities that focus on verbal thoroughness. The activities include games, story telling, role-playing, and speeches, sing songs, cooking sessions, debates, visits to interesting places and much more. As a means of encouragement the week’s most active participant is rewarded. The class also has a collection of English reading material donated by volunteers. Be part of this voluntary program as you sit down with them, teaching, singing, playing games and answering their timid questions about you country and people. If you wish you may bring along with you little gifts of stationery to be given to the students.
The whole idea behind this venture is to let the benefits flow down to the local community. In fact it would be more right to call this a project of the village people rather than a business undertaking. Everything revolves around sharing and caring, working together as a family and eventually partaking the returns!
Everything is true from real homes, genuine people and authentic experiences. Take time to see the other side of Sri Lanka, the humane aspect where touching stories of tears and smiles unfold before you.
If you are the kind that hungers for an authentic Sri Lankan Experience and searching for ‘ true insight and in-depth understanding’, not superficial or arranged tourist attractions, then get in touch with us at Sri Lankan Expeditions, a 100% locally owned company, with vast local knowledge and endorsing responsible tourism. We promise, you won’t be disappointed!