Sri Lanka – a cultural, culinary and sporting adventure trip

TATSU-RYU-BUSHIDO.com

Sri Lanka – a cultural, culinary and sporting adventure trip

von | Sa 1. Juni 2024

My name is Fabian Birkle, trainer at Tatsu-Ryu-Bushido Limburgerhof e.V. and I was a speaker at the Samurai Camp in Sri Lanka in May 2024 and stayed at the Hotel Royal Palms Beach Kalatura. If you’ve never been to Sri Lanka before, you start thinking in advance about what it will be like in Sri Lanka and what clothes to take with you. At Frankfurt Airport at the latest, you can’t stop thinking about how you will arrive after the ten-hour flight. An island south of India, in the middle of the tropical zone, you realise as soon as you disembark how the warm air with almost saturated humidity hits you. From now on, there are only two types of temperature: either swelteringly hot, where you immediately start to sweat, or cool, almost cold air-conditioned.

At the airport, we were greeted directly by Renil Fernando and his family, who did not miss the opportunity to welcome the German Tatsu-Ryu-Bushido delegation on site. After the transfer to the hotel, we were given a very friendly welcome by the staff at the Royal Palms Beach. After catching up on our jet leg sleep, we were able to get an overview of the fantastic hotel complex: a huge lobby, a restaurant with international and Sri Lankan cuisine, where you could eat chicken curry for breakfast, a great pool with a pool bar, a fitness centre and a lounge with a bar for the evening entertainment, where a band played every evening. The sea was 20 metres behind the pool, but unfortunately it had been raging against the beach for far too long due to the rainy season, so a few days earlier stones had been tipped out to prevent erosion from the strong waves. The beach was therefore closed to foot traffic and the red flag was hoisted. You wouldn’t have been able to swim in the strong waves anyway.

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But nobody could do anything about that. At the beginning, the first endeavours followed in the footsteps of 2006, when Saiko-Shihan Christian Wiederanders was accommodated with the Budo Camp at the Blue Water Hotel and provided reconstruction aid for the damage caused by the terrible tsunami in 2004. Christian Wiederanders was recognised at the Blue Water hotel complex and put in touch with the hotel manager at the time, Dinali. She will invite us to Vesakh a few days later. The visit to the Turtle Station was also celebrated with a reunion. Here, too, reconstruction work was carried out for the tsunami in 2006. At the sea turtle station, locals can bring sea turtle eggs, which are then hatched in the station in a controlled manner and the newly hatched turtles are released on the beach a few days later, where they can run into the sea protected from predators. The Tatsu-Ryu team did not miss out and gave 25 baby turtles the gift of freedom.

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In the evening, Renil Fernando and his family came to visit us at the hotel. We were able to hold an acceptance ceremony in an adjoining room, where Renil Fernando was appointed sensei as the new dojo leader and awarded an honorary dan. His two sons Shenal and Kaushalya were awarded 1st and 2nd kyu and made senpai. After dinner together, the evening ended in the hotel lounge, where Shenal’s partner performed a few songs with the hotel band. After all, she won the Sri Lanka version of Superstar two years ago. The hotel staff recognised her immediately and were taken aback by this celebrity visit.

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Another highlight was just around the corner, the so-called Vesakh festival. This is the highest holiday for Buddhists, as three things are celebrated at once on this day: Buddha’s birthday, the day Buddha died and Buddha’s arrival in Sri Lanka. As the calendar in Sri Lanka depends very much on the phases of the moon, this festival is celebrated like Easter here, but Easter and Christmas are celebrated together. According to the calendar, Vesakh takes place on the full moon and is celebrated between April and June. Colourful Buddha flags are hung up a week in advance and lanterns are hung out to symbolise enlightenment. A devout Buddhist makes his own lantern. A lantern competition was also organised at the hotel, in which the staff departments each made a lantern together. These could be seen in the run-up to the event as they were being made, and at Vesakh itself all the lanterns could be compared. A jury assessed the skilfully crafted lanterns and chose a winner. During Vesakh itself, alcohol is banned for two days and Buddhists are not allowed to eat meat for a week. As a custom, the rich provide food for the poor. As mentioned, the former manager of the Blue Water Hotel invited us to her home for this event. On the way there, our car was stopped and we were served curry vegetable soup by children. When we arrived at our destination, Dinali and her husband gave us a warm welcome. The food had already been prepared. So we were able to savour the delicious Sri Lankan cuisine outside the hotel. A culinary experience! On the way to the Buddha temple, everything was decorated with colourful flags and lanterns. The Buddhists wear white clothing for this occasion as the unschooling colour for enlightenment. A Buddhist service was taking place. Later, people helped Dinali prepare the offerings. This help was very much appreciated. In the evening, we took a tuktuk ride to the large Buddha temple not far from the hotel. Numerous Buddhists visited the magnificently decorated temple.

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Then it was finally time for the long-awaited samurai camp. The team of trainers from Germany was greeted with curiosity and respect by almost 60 participants. After a traditional opening ceremony of the dojo by dojo leader Sensei Renil Fernando, the training sessions took place in the newly equipped adjoining room of his Muay Thai centre. The students had already taken part in online training sessions there and good prior knowledge was recognisable, which could be built on quickly. The element of earth was covered over the three days with content such as Warm-up kata, basic stances, unarmed techniques, falling school, theory units, basic bokken techniques and the first katas. There was a lot of fun practising here, even beyond the training sessions. They continued to practise during the breaks and even after the end of the official training session, they continued to practise the basic techniques in the Muay Thai training room next door. During the lunch break, the team of trainers were served culinary Sri Lankan cuisine. Even self-picked mangoes from the tree in front of the dojo were a very popular dessert. Finally, the long-awaited belt examinations took place. As there were many differences between the students, grading examinations were held for either 8th kyu, 7th kyu or 6th kyu. As a result, 16 participants achieved the 8th kyu, 9 participants the 7th kyu and 7 participants the 6th kyu. Medals were awarded for special achievements, which the participants were delighted to receive. After the award ceremony, almost every participant wanted to take a picture with the instructors. There was great joy at this event and there were several requests for a follow-up. Planning is already underway. At the end, the speakers gathered in the restaurant of the impressive Royal Ramses Hotel, where there was a lively discussion about the past three days. A worthy conclusion to a great weekend.

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To round off my trip, I visited a Hindu temple in the capital Colombo, the largest in Sri Lanka. It was not allowed to take photos in the impressive temple. This was a great pity, because the decorations and the events in the temple with praying Hindus, offerings and blessings from the priests were definitely worth a visit. Something like this can only be seen in India. A cultural conclusion to an interesting trip. During my return flight, I wondered when I would visit this fantastic country with its culinary, cultural and sporting aspects again. It will be interesting to see what the rest of the speakers, who are staying a week longer, have to say.

 Colombo

Bedeckt 31° C 31° C | 31° C 5.83 m/s 80 % 1010 hPa

Mombasa

Leichter Regen 25° C 25° C | 25° C 3.6 m/s 83 % 1014 hPa

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