As SQ 802 circled Beijing’s airspace for landing, I crane my neck at the window seat trying to get a glimpse of the Great Wall. I am disappointed because at this late midnight hour, there are too many twinkling lights to confuse me in this capital city of modern architecture. 

China has been a source of fascination for me. From wondering what the most populace nation in the world was like, to history lessons about ancient dynasties, the Mongol conquest of China (I am a great fan of the Genghis Khan), the strict communist control by Mao Tse-tung, apt quips by Confucius, to walking finally on the world’s wonder, the Great Wall among so much more.  

Now, I’m here…. 

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That means “good things come in small packages” in Scottish. A perfect description of my destination! 

The weather is chilly yet a welcome change from the scorching heat in Colombo and the three-hour 30 minute drive to Hatton is easy and picturesque (and much more bearable than the three-hour power cuts I was experiencing at home). I am en route to The Argyle , located along the Nuwara Eliya road and Google Maps explains the way very clearly. 

The Argyle

Set in 3.1 acres of sprawling tea country, The Argyle is large, spacious and themed along Scottish heritage in reverence to the era of the Scottish tea planters who settled in this area in the 1850s.

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“Go and visit the S.E.A. Aquarium,” pestered my offspring over the phone. So, with an afternoon to spare before catching my flight back home I headed off to Resorts World Sentosa situated just across the street from the Bay Hotel Singapore.

Located in a 20-acre park which combines two attractions, the S.E.A. Aquarium and the Adventure Cove Waterpark, it was once considered to be the world’s largest aquarium by total water volume until overtaken by Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in Hengqin, China.

Despite it being a Friday evening, I was relieved that there were not many visitors. This, undoubtedly made my visit easier, faster and more enjoyable.

The aquarium is amazing. It really is.

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It’s only 6 a.m. on this barmy Sunday morning. Our drive up and down the Mannar causeway in search of flamingos was futile. Except for some waders and an awesome sunrise reflecting off the water, there was nothing much to see. 

Since the day was still young, we decided to drive into the Mannar Fort, which is located right off the causeway.

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Galle is famous for its ancient historical Fort, sunny beaches, blue-green sea and kitsch temples. But I discovered another fascinating place to visit, the Handunugoda Tea Estate, home of the rare and real virgin white teas.

Located less than 30 minutes from the Galle Fort, the road to the estate is winding and circuitous, and if not for trusted Google Maps I would very well have got lost!  

Herman Gunaratne

But I make it in time to meet with an old friend and owner of this estate, the inimitable Herman Gunaratne, fondly referred to as the Prince of Ruhunu. 

After a chat over a perfectly brewed cup of Oolong tea, I follow Herman on a tour of the tea plantation that gained worldwide attention with the launch of the Virgin White Tea factory. As we walk across the tea fields, Herman starts by narrating the history behind the virgin white teas. 

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