My Trip to Sri Lanka – Colombo
So recently, I was sponsored by my university to go to Sri Lanka to do some research on an exhibition. I decided to go a few days earlier and do some sightseeing. I took Jet Airways from London to Colombo as it was the cheapest deal I could get and it also gave me a stop over in Mumbai on the way back for 7 days which gave me a week to visit everyone in India as well. This meant that on my way to Colombo, I had to go via Mumbai. In Mumbai, just prior to my arrival, it had been raining for several hours. This meant that the runways at the airport were covered with pools of water. This made the landing very rough, but I got to talk to the captain just after the landing and he blamed the water on the runway. Then as we were flying to Colombo, we flew mostly over monsoon clouds. This meant that there was a lot of turbulent weather on the way there. So I couldn’t get any sleep.
On arrival at Colombo airport, the immigration took a very long time as I think it was a peak hour for all the landings. The baggage collection area was also very packed. Had to struggle through all the people as I was alone and there was only so much that I could do. Once I got out, I exchanged some money and booked a cab from the airport to my hotel. After getting into my cab, the person whom I never asked for any help asked for tip for helping me. I shrugged him off as I didn’t know much about it. On my way to the hotel, I got to see very nice sceneries. There were palm trees all around and it was very green. But I couldn’t enjoy much of it since I had been up for around 20 hours and felt really tired. Once I got to the hotel, the driver also asked for a tip. Since everyone was asking for that, I gave it thinking it might be compulsory. At the hotel (or more like a holiday home), I got given my room. And I slept in for about 4-5 hours to catch up on the sleep that I had lost.
That afternoon, after waking up, I went to the beach which was pretty close from the holiday home I was staying in. The sea was very loud. I think it was because of the monsoon. But I really liked it there. It was the only place in Colombo that I felt the most comfortable with. It was very humid but the nice wind blowing off of the sea was very soothing and I really liked the beach. There I met a lot of people who were trying to sell me lots of things. Some were selling me sea-food, hotels, drinks and so on. Some were even trying to sell me tours to different places in Sri Lanka (which I don’t really trust). So I asked a few of them what the prices were, and they would only tell me the entrance fees and not the fees of them taking me there. They always said “its up to you sir” which was pretty confusing as I don’t know how much is a good tip and I really don’t like to tip. I’d rather you give me the exact amount and I’ll pay. But oh well. Just off the beach, there were quite a few hotels which local businessmen ran. It was a private beach with no access to the beach via the road. Each place sold something different and it was a great place to be if you had the money. As it got closer to sunset, more and more people started showing up. Most likely after they finished work. It was much nicer with less humidity, no harsh sunshine and more winds. I loved being there.
On the second morning, I had met a friend of mine who I knew over the internet. We met up and decided to go to the Colombo Museum. The entry fee was pretty expensive being a foreigner and they even charged me for the camera usage. The museum didn’t have many interesting things to see in it. But there were some statues of Buddhist and Hindu Gods and some sculptures of people from the past. However, the building it was in was pretty nice and was very well maintained. After seeing the museum, we headed to a place called Galle Face. It’s a seaside park which is pretty popular with locals as well as tourists. It’s a very nice area to relax but not so in the heat of midday. I liked this place as well as it was a nice place to relax and just listen to the waves roar. It was a very nice place to be. Just around that area, we found a tour operator and got some information about what I could do outside of Colombo. He booked me a tour to see a few places in Sri Lanka and I agreed and paid for the tour.
After leaving Galle Face, I dared to take the local bus to get to my hotel. Since my friend was with me, I knew it wouldn’t go wrong. So we got on the bus and sat admiring the views. It was just like a local bus from Mumbai. Cramped seats and a conductor would go around to sell the tickets to the commuters. Somehow, he thought we had already paid and therefore didn’t ask us for money and we got the whole journey free! Had paid around 400 Sri Lankan Rupees earlier that day for the same journey to get there on the Tuktuk, which I just saved.
After reaching the area of my hotel, I bought some coconut curry with a dish called ‘Kotthu’. Kotthu was very nice, however, very filling. It was just some roti mixed with lots of cooked vegetables. I could only finish about half of it. The owners of my holiday home had given me some fruits as I got home early. I had some papaya, a really tiny banana and a pineapple. It was so nice that I asked for it for every day while I was there.
I had booked a tour of rest of Sri Lanka which started early next morning.
After coming back from the tour, the main reason I came to Sri Lanka had begun. One of the lecturers from my uni and students had arrived from UK to see how a university in Sri Lanka organised the event. So we met up at their hotel and got to know each other. The university we were at was an extension of our university back here in London. The event was an exhibition of projects from first, second, and final years and showing them off to their fellow students, parents and employers. We helped them out set up the event for the first 4 days which included painting, drawing and doing creative things (as Computer Science students). It was a great experience and I met quite a few people who had their own stories to tell.
It was a great experience overall as it was the first time I had travelled to a completely new country all by myself and had enough courage to do it. It was a great learning curve for me, I got to meet quite a lot of people with whom I would like to be in touch with and I would love to do a similar trip again, but next time maybe plan it better beforehand :P.
OT: Just something I wanted to ask everyone, if I were to do some kind of a trek across the himalayas for charity. Would you donate/help out the cause?