In this Matador photo essay, photographer Nick Kuchmak bypasses the tourist attractions and shifts the lens to the real Sri Lanka — its people.

WITH CONSISTENTLY NEGATIVE news of protests and the threat of terrorism plaguing Sri Lanka’s capital over the past 25 years, not to mention the 2004 tsunami that hammered the south coast, tourist numbers have been at an all time low. But with the civil war over as of May 2009, and access to the war-torn north increasing, more and more travelers are making the journey.

Sri Lanka’s beaches, tea plantations, and archaeological sites are all good reasons to visit, but it is the gentleness of its people that touched me.