Sri Lankan Tourism: When a good night of sleep is too much to ask!

Thursday, 27 December 2018 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

First of all I am a Buddhist, I believe that I’m a good Buddhist but that’s probably for others to judge. I think this is a very sensitive thing for many in Sri Lanka to discuss but I believe someone needs to address this. I own a hotel in Nuwara Eliya and we get beaten from three ends. Buddhist chanting, Muslim prayers and Tamil cultural events. All very loud and practically impossible to sleep, not only for foreign guests but even for locals. 

When I first bought this hotel, on one of the days I decided to spend the night there alone because I was to meet the contractors next day early morning. This was the first time I stayed in Nuwara Eliya without my family. I couldn’t sleep that night. I encountered something very strange. I couldn’t sleep because everything was very silent. This was unreal for me. In Colombo I hear the fan, ac, the neighbours, the road, even my children in the bed. But in Nuwara Eliya it was literally pin drop silence. This was my first such experience and since then of course I have been sleeping very well every time I visit there. This experience also made me realise why most guests complain where a dog bark in the middle of the night and among many other sounds that we Sri Lankans generally accept as ‘normal’. 

Because I’m a Buddhist let me address the Buddhist side first. In the month of November we had Katina pinkama chanting for 14 consecutive days. Every day loud speakers start at 2 p.m. and goes on until 9 p.m. Every morning pirith starts at 5:30 a.m.-6:30 a.m. (this is throughout the year). There is so much that poor staff can explain to the guests. Guests too understand but there is always a limit. And tomorrow it’s scheduled to have all night pirith. So we informed the guests and offered the option to cancel free. And all of them cancelled while thanking us for being honest. I did this because I know very well that guests will not have a good night’s sleep tomorrow. 

This is just one of the concerns, then there is Muslim prayers and Tamil events. In particular Tamil events would mean very high volume music (I’m sorry I don’t know if they are music or religious blessings) for few good days. 

Some might act smart and say “soundproof the room”. Well no sound proofing can help this level of noise. In a Sri Lankan perspective, imagine a mosquito roaming around your ear all night, can you sleep well? This is how it would feel even if you sound proof the room. 

No dispute that all these are temporary and everything gets back to normal after a few days. I think it’s needless to say that hoteliers are not having a good time and tourist numbers are down. But these local events are an even bigger hit for us. 

I’m not requesting to stop them. By any means no. Please continue to have them. But I think anyone with common sense can decide what is nuisance and what peace of mind is. If possible end the nuisance. I’m thankful for the then environment minister for introducing start and end times for loud events. 

Someone can decide what a good night’s sleep is. Please let these guests sleep well and have some peace of mind. Asking for a good night’s sleep and some quality time for those who choose Sri Lanka among other countries as their “holiday destination” can’t possibly be too much to ask? Is it? Bare minimum try to introduce these reasonable limits in the heavy tourist areas.