Modern Day Spice Traders in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is endowed with a wealth of traditional arts and crafts as well natural resources such as gemstones, tea, herbs and spices, and at very affordable prices. Foreign powers have been coming to Sri Lanka’s shores for hundreds of years. The Arabs came here to trade, the colonial empires of the Portuguese, Dutch and English came later to exploit the rich diversity of natural resources, and nowadays your travelers can come and enjoy it as well.
Whether it’s haggling with street vendors about coconuts, meeting handicraft vendors on the beach, exploring local markets overflowing with exotic produce, gazing at the beauty of gemstones, or walking through some aromatic spice gardens, there really is something for everyone as far as souvenirs of Sri Lanka.
Ritual masks, lacquer ware, batik and hand-loomed textiles, lace, and woodcarvings are popular around the Galle area. Fabulous blue sapphires, star sapphires, rubies, cat’s-eye, garnets, moonstones, aquamarines and topaz are some of the beautiful stones from small-scale mines around Ratnapura.
Sri Lanka is the world’s third largest exporter of tea and travelling through the Hill Country you’ll be able to see the locals working in the rolling hillsides of tea plantations–often for merely a few dollars a day. In the country’s cultural triangle area, your travelers will encounter spice gardens that boast a plethora of diverse plant species. It’s surprising to see where the spices come from that we commonly use in our kitchens. For example, visitors may be surprised to learn that cinnamon powder comes from tree bark.
While shopping in Sri Lanka, it is of course important to be responsible with your purchases. Don’t overpay and don’t succumb to the fake products out in the market. It’s important to have someone with you who can help you distinguish between the good and the bad. Luckily, in Sri Lanka, the guides and drivers are able to assist your travelers with negotiating and finding the best deals to purchase souvenirs that contribute to sustainable jobs in the local economy.
It is also important to know that everywhere your clients go, their guide with be getting a commission on any of their purchases. It is part of how the guiding system in Sri Lanka is structured. Just as in the hospitality industry in the United States, the guides rely more on tips and commissions than on fixed salaries. Khiri Travel recommends that travelers be open with their guide and allow the guide to help negotiate the price. We find that it helps in the dynamics of the trip. It is traditional, unavoidable and easier to have a laugh about how much each shop gave him in commission than it is to have an elephant sitting in the car with you.
For more information about tours to the spectacular destination of Sri Lanka including some fabulous shopping for spices, gems and tealeaves, Please contact at [email protected]