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Picture Perfect

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Some places seem to be too postcard-perfect to be real. Welcome to Tangalle. White sands, royal blue waters and – of course – palm trees lining the beach. Here, Talalla Retreat’s resident surf instructor, Richard, climbs a coconut palm for an image straight from a movie. James Bond, eat your heart out. No photoshop required! Image courtesy of D. Jones Photography and may not be reproduced without permission.

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Parrot

Talalla Twitter(er)

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“Hello?!” This little guy is a Rose Ringed Parakeet. He lives in the gardens at Talalla Retreat and can often be found twittering with his friends, welcoming the morning with his happy little song. His bright green colour and rosy beak mean he easily blends in with the tropical gardens of Talalla. He lives on grains and seeds, found throughout the grounds, and loves to swish his wings about in the bath. He loves to eat wing beans, the very same ingredient that’s found in our dinner most nights of the week! While we love them stewed with tomato, or…

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Still warm samosa from Risara Bakers, Haputale. Heaven!

A Sri Lankan Picnic

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High in the tea-stained hills of Haputale, a delicacy awaits. First, the painstaking preparation. The vegetable curry is first delicately spiced then cooled. At the same time, roti dough is pounded and cooked. It sits waiting for its delicious inheritance. A boiled egg is peeled and the stage is set. The curry is spooned into the roti and the egg placed in the centre. It is lovingly wrapped, like a tiny present, and all openings are sealed. Finally, it is dropped into boiling oil, and cooked for a few seconds before your eyes. Then, magic. One bite and you’re hooked….

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Smoky Okra Curry at the Original Mama's Galle Fort. Sublime!

Keep Calm and Eat Curry!

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Curry glorious curry! Spicy or mild. Gravy or dry. Creamy or light. In Sri Lanka, a simple rice and curry is never a simple rice and curry. Fork over between 100 – 500 rupees and you’ll be awarded a gluttonous feast of up to 12 mouthwatering creations. Sour mango, creamy jackfruit, pungent beetroot, dry purple potato. Mixes of up to 15 spices, crushed and mixed by hand, and usually with a hero flavor. All served with red rice, husk still on, and eaten with the fingers or skillet-hot roti. Accompaniments abound – sambols of hot, sour or sweet goodness –…

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Water buffalo

Buffalo Soldier

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Driving through Yala National Park, a clearing brings you to a muddy billabong. As your eyes come into focus, you realize with surprise that you’re not alone…. An army of wild buffalo are escaping the heat of the day by having a cooling mud bath. These are not the guys who make the ubiquitous curd, but wild beasts that can change mood at a moments notice. One turns to look at the car. A shiver runs down your spine. Luckily, the heat makes him too lazy to give chase, but he stares through you with a warning. The wild water…

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Monitor lizard by the pool at Talalla Retreat

Mr Lizowsky

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Meet Mr Lizowsky, our resident monitor lizard. He’s scouting the grounds looking for todays lunch. His powerful tail and claws make him look like a modern day dinosaur. Land monitors reach a maximum snout to vent length of about 140 cm in Sri Lanka and large specimens can weigh over 10 kg. Land monitors spend the nights in burrows, where their body temperature decreases. The following morning they must raise their body temperatures by basking before commencing activity, hence they are rarely active early in the morning. By lunchtime, he’s ravenous for tiny prey and will feast on beetles, grubs,…

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FruitSalad

Fruit salad

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Nature rules in Sri Lanka. Blessed with an enviable level of rainfall coupled with baby blue skies, the bees do their utmost to create a technicolour feast. Gummy golden jackfruit, sweet ochre papaya, juicy sunshine pineapple and royal mango; the tropical bounty is endless. Grown in backyard jungles and on windowsills, the ripe goodness spills out everywhere, with local stalls selling their riches at endless roadside stands. Much of this deliciousness is also made into traditional curries, like sour mango and spiced pineapple. This picture was taken at Matara, in the middle of the bustling town, and about 15 minutes…

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Tuktuk

The Tuk Tuk

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The humble tuk tuk, found throughout Asia, is a thriving species here in Sri Lanka. It blends into the lush undergrowth in green, or makes a fiery entrance in red. It’s plastered with stickers and beloved paraphernalia, or kept pristine and untouched. It’s often seen exalting the virtues of a Buddhist life, of even taking a note from our Rasta neighbor – Mr Marley. Often heard first, the mighty tuk tuk may be a mobile disco, blasting local rhythms through rice paddies. It may be a sardine-can people-mover, dropping off innumerate kids to schools, mum’s to markets and dads to…

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Bawa

Beautiful Bawa

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Sri Lanka’s most beloved architect, Geoffrey Bawa, had a home at Lununganga, near Bentota, and about 2 hours north of Talalla Retreat. The man who created “tropical modernism” certainly created a personal utopia here. Butterfly lakes open up onto acres of stepped grounds, with gates to nowhere interspersed in the undergrowth. This is the country estate of the artist, started in 1947, and the very location that led him to becoming an architect. Throughout his life, Mr Bawa continued to change and experiment with the space. This hand-chiseled sandstone leopard overlooks the gardens, keeping watch over the estate and the…

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GalleFaceGreen

Stuff Your Galle Face (Green)

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Wandering down Galle Face Green at sundown is a typical Sri Lankan experience. As the sun sets, street vendors uncover their creations, painstakingly handmade in private homes by the lady of the house each morning. Rolling out gazebos, frypans, tables and chairs, the instant food court appears miraculously and the smell of frying spices fills the air. Hollering about these delicious tapas, crowds are drawn to stall after stall of deep fried baby crabs smooshed into red coconut roti. Large shops sell fresh seafood – seasoned prawns and tiny squid stare blankly, while large crabs eyeball your choice – perhaps…

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