I have to admit that before we set off for our honeymoon, I did not know a lot about Sri Lanka, its economy, culture or history. Worse still, most of what I did know about Sri Lanka was not so positive (e.g. civil war). However, while visiting Sri Lanka we soon learnt that it is a country with a rich and fascinating history, partly because of how rich it is in resources from brilliant sapphires to delicious teas. Not only can you get yourself a great cuppa in Sri Lanka, but more generally Sri Lanka has a fantastic range of herbs and spices.
On our way back from beautiful Sigiriya, our driver asked us if we would like to stop in and do a spice tour. Now, I am pretty confident that our driver did get some kind of incentive for taking us to this place, but that doesn’t usually bother me (now there’s a blog post in itself!). There are many of these type establishments all over Sri Lanka, so it is easy to squeeze into whatever your itinerary is. The spice garden we visited was the Ranweli Spice Garden in Matale.
Upon arrival, our cheery guide greeted us and began a tour around the modest garden. He pointed out different fruits, herbs and spices, allowing us to see and smell them. Scattered throughout the garden were also little samples, so you could test products along the way. One of the products we tested first was the herbal healing balm, which was applied rigorously to my temples! I’m not going to lie, it got a bit awkward trying to avoid our guide’s eye conduct while he intensely applied the product! It is supposed to be good for headaches and clearing the sinuses.
Half way through our walk around the picturesque little garden, it suddenly started to pour with rain! I looked at Tom with a sense of panic, however a number of staff came running over with bright yellow umbrellas to keep us dry. The spice tour goes ahead rain, hail or shine apparently.
After we had our little private tour of the spice garden, we came to a gazebo area where we got some more information about each of the products made at the garden/factory. Yes, it was pretty salesy, but obviously they had a business to run so I was happy to sit through it. I was also interested to hear about what kind of spices go into a traditional Sri Lankan curry, which I had become obsessed by by this stage.
At the end of the tour, armed with a promotional flyer telling us about products from hand creams to rose oil to natural aphrodisiacs, we entered the store. I never felt much of a hard sell in Sri Lanka, and this was no different – we were left to our own devices to wander around the store picking out products. Honestly, it seemed a bit pricey, and I suspect there are cheaper options out there (comment below if you know of any!). However, when you compare to prices back home, it became a lot more reasonable.
In the end we bought a few products for ourselves and also for gifts. I bought both rose and jasmine oil as I love to burn them when feeling a bit stressed or anxious, or just wanting a reminder of lovely times abroad. After my demonstration, we also got two of the healing balms, one of which I gave to my grandpa to see if it helps his headaches.
I also bought an aloe vera face cream, which was a bit expensive at $20. However, I am so glad I bought it! I have super dry skin, and it has been fabulous. I apply it every day before my makeup and it has made a noticeable difference to my pores and dryness. Plus, I’ve hardly used any of it! So for once I am glad I did not let my usual stinginess take over!
Finally, Tom decided he had to buy the aphrodisiac. I reluctantly agreed on the condition that he didn’t open it so we could tell customs it was a joke present for a friend (totally believable, right?). He agreed, and luckily when we told customs everything that we had, they didn’t even want to see it!