Guide to Sri Lankan Travelers

Seattle city view from Kerry park (Photography by Rafsanul Hoque)
Seattle city view from Kerry park (Photography by Rafsanul Hoque)

The life of a traveler is travelling from one place to another and exploring new things. However adventurous and exciting it may be, there are instances that it becomes hard to adjust one’s lifestyle based on the culture and circumstances in a different country, especially for someone travelling from an Asian country like Sri Lanka to United States. Sometimes there is an urge to go find some food that you used to have. Given below are some useful tips to find some awesome places that you can find Sri Lankan food and Religious places of worship.

Buddhist Temples

Sarana International Buddhist Temple
Lord Buddha statue at Sarana International Buddhist Center(Photography by Sandun Ranaweera)
Lord Buddha statue at Sarana International Buddhist Center(Photography by Sandun Ranaweera)

The mission of this temple is to share Lord Buddha’s message with everyone, in order to develop peace and happiness among ourselves, and the world around us. Spiritual practices such as Observance of precepts, Seth Pirith, Dhamma school, Dhamma discussions, chanting and counselling are carried out regularly on a daily and a weekly basis. As per special practices, the temple holds a get together of Sri Lankans on every 2nd Saturday of each month.
This temple has no restrictions on entry, and it allows everyone, regardless of their religion, traditions or culture, to visit and observe the temple premises. But if anyone wishes to visit this place, it is appropriate if they wear white, less revealing clothes such as long skirts. If one intends to worship at this temple, they could do so by bringing incense and flowers as offerings.

Wat Lao Dhammacetiyaram
Lord Buddha statue at Wat Lao Dhammacetiyaram Photography by Naduni Perera
Lord Buddha statue at Wat Lao Dhammacetiyaram (Photography by Naduni Perera)

There is a Buddhist temple situated in Rainer Beach, Seattle. I decided to pay it a visit, so I took the train bound to Othello station which was the nearest station to the temple. The temple was just a couple of blocks away and I decided to walk. Once I entered the courtyard, my heart was filled with peaceful feelings. It was truly beautiful! It was unexpected and amazing to see such a wonderful place in Seattle. I observed the huge Buddha statue that was in the middle of the temple, and clicked a few pictures as well. As I walked inside, there was a one-armed monk. Since it is always enlightening to speak with monks, I clasped my hands and respectfully bowed to him, expecting to start a conversation. After a few minutes of talking, I walked further inside and had a look-around. There aren’t enough words to describe my blissful feelings after seeing the altar and the sacred artwork on it. Even though it felt a little bit odd to walk around taking photographs inside a temple, I captured several photographs, as I wanted to cherish every moment that I spent that day.

Sri Lankan Foods

Sri Lankan food made by Mr. Eric Mendis Photography by Eric Mendis
Sri Lankan food made by Mr. Eric Mendis (Photography by Eric Mendis)

It is a well-known fact that Asians, and especially Sri Lankans have rice and curry made with abundant spices as their main meal. But unluckily, there are no restaurants or hotels to have Sri Lankan food, around North West Seattle. Therefore, the most convenient and the cost effective way to have rice and curry is through Indian Restaurants, which can be found easily.

Pre-cooked food

The most convenient way to have Sri Lankan food is by ordering via social media. There is a popular Facebook group named “Seattle Sri Lankan cooking” that is owned by Mr. Eric Mendis, whose father is a well-known chef in Sri Lanka. In 2003, they decided to move to Seattle and towards the latter part of 2004, he started cooking as a hobby. Though he started by cooking Sri Lankan food for his family and friends initially, it struck him that he could step it up a little bit and do it in a more commercial level. By the end of 2004, his food became quite famous due to the deliciousness and the quality that he maintains. First question came to my mind is how would you get all the spices required he smiled and says at first, it was hard. But I managed to find a considerable amount of spices so that I could cook to get a taste similar to the taste when it’s cooked with the spices that are generally used in Sri Lanka. But as it grew to a more commercial scale, I put more effort to it and now it is much easier to find spices in order to give an authentic Sri Lankan taste, due to the contacts I have managed to build up with suppliers. During the days that I started this, that was the case only Sri Lankans came to this place. But with the growth in popularity, numbers increased and even locals started to come to this place. Now the general customer base consists of Sri Lankans, Americans and several other foreigners as well. Last question I asked from him was Do you cater to little gatherings and parties of Sri Lankans as well?
“Yes of course! The reason to develop my hobby to cook to a commercial level was basically the need that most Sri Lankan tourists and residents have to have the taste of the food that they are used to, in their motherland. As a Sri Lankan, I felt the same thing when I first moved here. So, I wouldn’t miss a single chance to cater that need off my fellow Sri Lankans.”

This story was produced by a student in the “Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI)” program, a collaboration between The Seattle Globalist and FIUTS, supported by the U.S. Department of State. The program brings 20 undergraduates from Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and Nepal to Seattle. Participants study journalism and new media, and participate in volunteer and service activities, leadership workshops, and cultural excursions. The story is an example of student work and has not yet been through the Seattle Globalist’s standard editing and fact-checking process.