Sri Lanka is an easy 3.5hr plane trip from Kuala Lumpur. In spite of our 6:15am flight time, we were really excited and looking forward to our next 28 days here, especially given the experiences of our past 2 weeks as well as the fact that we haven’t been to this country before. And our first 24hrs here has not disappointed in the least.
As with all places where you arrive by air, our first taste of Sri Lanka was at the Bandaranaike International Airport, which is the only international airport on the island and is located 30km north of the capital city off Colombo. Immediately we noticed the females who were working there wore beautiful and colourful saris, including our immigration official. After proceeding through immigration, we saw not only the usual duty free shops carrying liquor, perfume, cosmetics and cigarettes, but also many more shops that all sold ‘white goods’ such as refrigerators, televisions, washing machines as well as small kitchen appliances and electrical items like blenders and fans. We thought to ourselves that surely not that many people would be carting off a fridge from the secure area within the arrivals terminal at the airport, but as we passed through to the baggage claim area and the adjoining exit area to the Arrivals Hall, we saw about 3-4 porters wheeling full sized refrigerators on trolleys through customs for their customers. When we finally got outside the scene there was chaotic, but not because taxi drivers were vying for our business. There were even more porters with trolleys of refrigerators, plasma televisions and washing machines, looking for mini-van taxis for their customers in which to load these new purchases as well as the luggage onto. It was the oddest thing we’ve ever experienced at an airport. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to price these items, but pricing a new 4G iPod proved to be similar to what we would pay at home anyway.
We shared a mini-van taxi with a family of 4 Australians from the Melbourne area for the 20ish minute ride to the nearby beach town of Negombo. While looking for a room, we couldn’t help but notice that all the beds had mosquito nets around them—hmm, guessing that mosquitoes are a real problem here! We found a nice big room with a balcony facing the beach, had another breakfast, and all took a family nap to make up for the fact that we’d been up since 3:15am.
After breakfast we walked the 1.5km into the town centre. Again, we couldn’t help but notice that about 40% of the men we passed (mostly the ones 40+) wore Indian ‘longgi’ and were usually shirtless on top as well as barefoot. Many people rode bicycles, others walked and many more took the local ‘tuk tuk’. It was very ‘Indian’ looking, but a much more ‘watered down,’ less chaotic and less populated version. We even saw a small herd of cows wandering through the main street of town amongst the traffic. The people we met were extremely friendly and all spoke English.
|Local Lunch; Biriyani & Chicken|
|The parishioners observing Mass during Feast of the Assumption|
So—this has been what our first 24hrs in Sri Lanka has been like for us. While Negombo has been a fascinating and gentle introduction to the culture, unfortunately the beach isn’t impressive at all as it’s very windy at the moment, with the strong waves churning up the water and making it dangerous for swimming (we’ve been paying to use the pools at nearby hotels in order to cool off). We’ve off by bus to the ancient capital city of Kandy next—stay tuned.
|Fishing Boat off Negombo Beach|