“We will have the most Russians for the New Year!” – residents of the island state of Sri Lanka rejoice, with the help of actively attracting tourist flows they are emerging from the economic crisis. Tourists flocking to the island of Ceylon, as the current republic was called by its British ex-colonialists, can also be understood: guests are catered to here, the prices are ridiculous, the ocean is magnificent, and the people are very friendly. It is out of natural kindness that on the eve of the New Year holidays, a Sri Lankan woman warns Russian mothers about the hidden dangers of her native paradise island.
This New Year, the majority of compatriots (from the minority who this year allowed themselves a voyage from winter to summer) chose Sri Lanka for the New Year holidays. Of course: in our money, a portion of king prawns on the island is only 500 rubles, mango – 70 rubles. per kg, and papaya – only 40 rubles / kg.
New Year’s Eve in a cafe on the ocean with a set menu of three courses, live music and one alcoholic cocktail as a gift – 1,500 rubles. And even locally mined sapphires in Sri are the cheapest in the world – from 300 rubles per carat.
And “package tours” from the Russian Federation based on a direct flight from Moscow cost the same as to Thailand, where everything is much more expensive, and to Goa, where it is less safe, dirtier and the service and infrastructure are less developed.
In order to attract tourists who could save the island from a protracted crisis caused by an unsustainable external debt, Sri has developed a “luxury” segment over the past 1.5 years (initially, Sri resorts were considered surfer resorts, and there were no hotels above 4 stars on the coast).
“Even rich Englishmen, coming to our resorts, settled in hotels stylized as surfers’ ones,” recalls Maduranga, the owner of a villa in Hikkaduwa, which has already been nicknamed the “Russian village” for the love of our fellow citizens for it. – Our “fours” are very comfortable, just not luxurious, since surfers need the ocean, not the luxury of rooms. We only had “five-star” hotels in the mountainous center of the island, where it is cool, tea grows, and all sorts of business events in the tea business are regularly held. But over the past year, luxury hotels have appeared on the coast.
This is the reason why Maduranga, herself a mother of four children, decided to warn tourists from Russia who were going to Sri Lanka for the New Year holidays with their children.
“Everyone on our island is very happy to have guests, they try to make sure they like everything here, but there are moments that are not advertised so as not to frighten tourists,” Maduranga warns. – But in relation to children, I think it’s mean. After all, there are things that even the most luxurious hotel cannot protect against, but ordinary awareness can protect you perfectly.
According to a local resident, the main danger of Sri Lankan resorts for children is underwater currents in the ocean, even if it looks calm.
“We call it a “rip,” says the Sri Lankan woman, “this is a powerful underwater flow that goes from the shore into the ocean. Here he is such that he carries away healthy men like chips. Without looking at the flag on the beach, you can’t even get your feet wet in our ocean. And only lifeguards and surfers have a map of “rips”.
The official statistics of the island, alas, confirm this warning: on Sri, absolutely sober vacationers, who had no idea that they were risking anything in the seemingly calm water, drown more often than others. When the resorts on the island were mostly attended by professionals – surfers, kiters and others like them – the danger warning system was not as developed as it is now, because ocean extreme sports enthusiasts themselves know everything. But now flags and lifeguards with forecasts are everywhere, tourists just need to stop ignoring them.
The second danger mentioned by Maduranga is the tropical dengue virus, also known as dengue fever.
“It is most dangerous for children under five years of age and pregnant women,” says Maduranga, wondering why they don’t talk about this in the Eurosegment of the Internet. “The kids play, run around, they are small, and dengue mosquitoes sit in the tall grass and bushes. Do not allow children to play in the jungle, do not take them on excursions to Rainy Forest (tropical forests where tourists are taken. – Author). Don’t go to the local lakes, especially at sunset. We have high humidity, things get damp, and people living in hotels leave them in closets, and as a result, killer mosquitoes infest right in the room. If you live in a villa, do not keep barrels of water near your house, do not fill mini-pools, and pack the garbage tightly and take it to a special area away from your home, otherwise dengue mosquitoes will immediately appear in it.
Sri Lanka’s National Dengue Control Center does ask its citizens to avoid being near water, especially near stagnant bodies of water and wet forests at dawn and dusk. And in case of suspicion (a viral disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito and causes severe pain throughout the body – head, eyes, muscles and joints), contact the nearest “medical office” – a first-aid post for tourists, which will conduct initial tests and, if necessary, refer the island guest to hospital.
On average, the acute stage of the disease lasts a week, accompanied by high fever and loss of strength, after which it subsides. The most dangerous “side” is shock, which can occur if the acute stage is not treated, with members of the risk group, and these are children and adults with weak blood vessels, heart and kidneys.
The third threat to the paradise island, which a local resident warns about, is buses; the Sri Lankans themselves call them “crazy basses.”
“They run around like crazy, compete with each other, not caring about the passengers,” Maduranga shrugs. “They were already tired of fighting them, they left them as a local “attraction.” Young guys are becoming bus drivers, for whom racing, not caring about traffic rules, is daring. And their passengers are the same; normal people here don’t travel on regular buses, only on tuk-tuks and bikes. But a tourist pedestrian who does not know the local specifics, or a child from a country where buses always give way to pedestrians, may not expect such behavior from public transport. So just hold the hand of the children across the street! If you want to see the island, take only tourist buses, and among the local modes of transport, the most convenient and safest is the railway, which was built by the British.