over the next few weeks i will be sharing lots of information about my recent holiday in sri lanka, including where i stayed, what i ate, and more pictures than you probably care to see. but today i wanted to share what my initial thoughts were when i touched down on the island.
oh, the humidity! i knew before i went that sri lanka is a tropical island. i also knew i was going during monsoon and was prepared for lots of rain. but even with all this knowledge, i was not at all prepared for the wall of humidity that hit me as i walked out of the colombo airport at 11pm. it definitely took some time to adjust to that.
the roads are so nice. leaving aside the fantastic elevated expressway that runs to the airport, the roads were impressive. they were well maintained and clean, there were proper footpaths to walk on, and people actually used the zebra crossings to cross the road. the only potholes i saw were when i wandered through the market area on thursday, and even those were still better than most of our roads in india.
the sunsets are seriously impressive. during my visit, there were only two nights without amazing sunsets. even when it rained all day, the clouds would part for about half an hour in the evening to shine some serious colours all around. it was awesome to stand on the fort wall in galle and just stare.
the sri lankan rupee is not the same as the indian rupee. i was never able to wrap my head around this one. everything was in rupees, but it was in sri lankan rupees. one indian rupee is roughly equivalent to two sri lankan rupees, so things sounded as though they were double the price. it particularly shocked me with the food, until i took a moment to remind myself that it was a different rupee. so be warned.
tuk-tuks are expensive. even accounting for the exchange rate, travelling in tuk-tuks was pricier than it is in india. a 6.5km ride from my hotel to the colombo fort railway station cost me 240 lkr [sri lankan rupees], which is roughly rs. 120. covering the same distance in bangalore would cost between rs. 80-90. and although i didn’t travel by bus, other travellers i met said the bus was also rather pricey.
the railway stations are very cool. they’re almost like stepping back in time. there are all these beautiful and intricate arches and stairways, and it’s so easy to imagine what it looked like 50 or 100 years ago. it was good to be in a railway station again.
monsoon season doesn’t kid around. seriously. it rained nearly all-day-every-day of my trip. i was expecting this and so travelled with my trusty rain jacket and boots, but i was still taken aback at the sheer amount of rain that happened. we missed monsoon season in bangalore, and my agenda was pretty light, so i really didn’t mind it [the british travellers were all pretty upset]. plus, it made the evenings very cool, which i enjoyed. i am glad, however, that i had some sun one morning in galle and during my last 1.5 days in colombo.
all the tuk-tuk drivers speak really good english. i know colombo and galle rely a lot on tourism, but i was still surprised when every single tuk-tuk driver i met spoke nearly flawless english. it made it easy to explain where i was going and to give directions if need be, and it really emphasized for me the areas in which india is lacking when it comes to properly building up our tourism industry. and yes, there were a few drivers who tried to overcharge me instead of using their meter, but i was able to understand that and ward them off because of the shared language.
there will be plenty more to come – including photos i took with actual cameras – but this is just a little peek into some of my thoughts during my first few days in sri lanka.