— Colombo, Sri Lanka
This quarter at SCAD, we had a field trip to Sri Lanka for one of my classes – Global Sourcing & Supply Chain. So last Thursday, 8th of Feb, we departed Hong Kong Int’ Airport for six days in Colombo, the capital of the country. Sri Lanka is an island nation in the Indian Ocean that’s famed for its diverse landscapes; ranging from rainforests and plains to highlands and white sandy beaches, as well as ancient ruins including the 5th century Sigiriya citadel. Back when I used to fly Sri Lankan airlines to get to Karachi, I would always have a transit stay in Colombo, which allowed me to spend a day in the city – but obviously, that doesn’t count! Sri Lanka seemed far too interesting of a place to not visit again, and I was beyond excited.
So we landed in Bandaranaike International Airport at midnight on the 8th, and checked into Mandarina Colombo at almost 3am. We were all exhausted and had to be up at seven the next morning to begin our educational tour. The first stop on Friday morning was the Academy of Design, where we were able to interact and share ideas with local design students who were all so skilled and motivated in building the future of their country. It was also interesting to learn about Sri Lanka’s growing fashion scene and the potential that it holds. On Saturday, day two, we visited Selyn’s manufacturing hub – where Sri Lanka’s only fair-trade handloom goods were produced. The purpose of this was to witness first-hand how Sri Lanka’s goods for export are manufactured and be able to analyse the company’s sustainability efforts.
We then moved to the Deer Park Hotel in Giritale – a small city in the North Western province of Polonnaruwa, because it was closer to our activities for the next day. So Sunday was our only other non-educational day besides our last day, where we were finally able to take part in some touristy and leisurely things that allowed us to appreciate the country’s culture. We started the day at 5:00am and drove to Sigiriya, UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most unique example of ancient Sri Lankan art, archaeology and landscapes. It is a magnanimous, 600ft high fortress that was built 1,600 years ago by King Kassapa I (473-491 A.D.) alongside gardens and royal buildings. It took us about an hour to climb and get to the top of this rock for a 360 degree view of the vast rainforests and hills. After the hike, we had a buffet lunch at the Kandalama Hotel and drove to the Minneriya National Park for a safari. Standing up through the top-less jeep, i got slapped by trees multiple times and was covered in sand and dust, until we reached the open field of elephants, which was truly a sight not to be missed.
The following day (Monday, 12th) was a big one for us, because we visited two mass-production factories in order to study the supply chain in detail. The first one was Hirdaramani – Sri Lanka’s top apparel manufacturer which works for brands including Levis, Tommy Hilfiger and more. It also opened ‘Mihila’ – the world’s first eco-friendly factory in the world, where sustainability is top priority. The second factory visit was to Linea Aqua, that produces for clients like Victoria’s Secret PINK, Speedo, Cotton On, Roxy, Triumph and more. It was a true eye-opener and incredibly amazing to see how our clothes are made, and all the stages a product goes through before it reaches us as consumers.
I had a wonderful time with wonderful people! It was educational yet enjoyable. So thank you, Sri Lanka, for the sun, fun, fish curries, eco-factories, hospitality, elephants & more.