Earlier this week I was in Sri Lanka with family. We went on a day trip to Pinnawala enroute to Kandy, Sri Lanka.
The stop in Pinnawala was to see the famous Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage which houses one of the largest herd of captive elephants in the world. Two tourist attractions in the place, one is the feeding of Baby Elephants from a feeding bottle and other the herd of elephants getting down to the nearby oya river for a bath.
Tourists from around the world throng the place for getting a vantage spot to see the elephants bathing. The Elephant orphanage reminded me of the Sri Guruvayoorappan Temple (Devasthaswom) managed Elephant home in Kerala.
The road from the Orphanage to the river opposite is lined with shops selling all handicraft items targeted at western tourists, we stayed clear of the shops.
Before the Elephant Orphanage visit, our Hotel Taxi driver stopped in a private Elephant farm. Immediately my son ran and got on top of an Elephant for a ride and I had to shell out SLR 2000 or so per person, which was a complete tourist rip-off.
The next stop after the Elephant Orphanage was a tourist trap, it was a visit to Spice Garden, Coming from Tamil Nadu (neighbouring Kerala which is the historic spice destination) I should have avoided the stop. The Spice Garden was a well maintained private farm growing all kinds of herbs, spices & condiments. A in-house guide did a 20 minute tour (which was free) of the place, showing and explaining about each herb & spices they grow.
The tour was informative and worth the stop. What followed at the end was the tourist trap (somewhere you got to pay for it). The guide (salesman) did a small demo of all their herbal cures for illness from Hair problems to wait-loss. I was about to dash out of the place when my wife took an order form and started selecting the medicines. Knowing better than to convince my wife against not buying anything I limited her purchase to few bottles of medicines which I am sure we will not use after returning home.
Also published on Medium.