Buckle up and hold tight!!
Classic cars, fat cigars, blue pigeons, singing fish, warplanes,delicious palmyrah jam and bejewelled Bollywood saris, BBC Lonely Planet photographer and journalist Juliet Coombe was determined to be the first writer back into northern Sri Lanka after 26 years of war, despite having just had a baby and being knocked back several times by the Ministry of Defence to go by the usual means of transportation. She finally found herself in a tiny jump seat in a huge military plane, still holding her baby aka her chief negotiating card on her way to Jaffna with a bunch of generals.
In contrast to the north, going east led her to lost lagoons, unspoilt beaches and magnificent forts that sit atop rugged cliffs. On her journey, Juliet, got to know the ferrymen who until recently had only Tamil Tigers as passengers and took up their suggestion to try the hot water wells with magical healing powers near Trinco. From here she headed inland to central Sri Lanka – much more than just historical sites. Here wildlife is still prolific – leopards abound as well as an elephant corridor. Artists gather in large numbers, especially around the amazing Sigiriya rock.
In addition, the book covers the seven islands off the coast of Jaffna, Sri Lanka’s crown jewels, and their myriad of ancient traditions, which range from carrying baby dolls across the waters to guarantee fertility, to musical pujas.
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Juliet Coombe … is a photo-journalist with an international reputation. She married a Muslim tuk-tuk driver from the Fort, Galle; and they now have two little boys. She has been active in sustaining the Galle Literary Festival and is one of the co-authors of Around the Fort in 80 Lives