“Just do it while you can”
We set off to Doha, Qatar from Manchester following an exceptionally emotional ‘farewell’. Gemma received some very sad news that hit us hard for the remainder of the trip and it quickly became an arduous and sleepless pair of flights that landed us in Colombo around 16 hours later.
Once we landed we got transferred into Colombo on a lovely A/C coach that took us deep into Colombo Central bus station to the tune of around 60p each for a 45min trip. The frivolity stopped there as I commenced ‘Operation: We’re on a budget’. What proceeded after my decision of ‘We might as well… it’s not even that far’ was a Tolkien-esque quest to land us at our first hostel. According to the map the hostel was only around 2.7km from the bus station. This blatantly was not including the moments where we stepped out of real-space and into the shit-stenched warp dimension of Colombo’s side streets. It appeared that no tuk tuk driver had any idea where we were supposed to go either, although they may just have purposely misled me as I flat out refused their services but still asked for directions. Managing to eventually pin down the correct intersection we found the hostel and proceeded to crash until the following morning with only a sole visit to get some pastries. I must also stress for those of a worried nature that at no point were these ‘dodgy’ side streets, they were just normal side streets. On that note, I must say that at no point here have I seen what I would call a threatening scene or environment. No skulking, lurking or pocket fondling, and Gemma has rather sensibly dressed in a conserved fashion and gone full nun.
Concerning activities. It seems our first visit to Colombo (we fly back out from here) was going to consist mainly of admin. Hair cutting, train ticket buying to our next stop Ella and visa extending. We are now the proud parents to a 2 month visa to take us to 3rd August after which point we will fly to India.
A stop for lunch consisted of a chicken biriyani with one chicken leg and a few chunks of miscellaneous carcass to garnish. These were probed and summarily discarded, and as of T-minus 6.5 hours my arse has not yet exploded.
After a stop in the park we wound our way back to chill for the night. We have an early train tomorrow at 8.30am which will take us up into the tea plantations. I am staggered at the seriously low price and efficiency of public transport in this country. The train tomorrow is only around 3GBP each for an 8.5 hour journey in the 2nd class cabin (reserved seating so no crowds of standing people). Conversely, the retard in the tuk tuk today that took us in the complete opposite direction when he summarily mistook ‘Colombo Fort’ as ‘Colombo 4*’ charged us 1.70GBP for what should have been a 15 min trip.
Tips so far: Download Maps-Me, it is brilliant for travelling. You can download any country and it will work like Google maps (using smartphones GPS at no cost — I know this as my phone doesn’t have an active SIM in it). Shows most hotels, hostels, banks and attractions. Useful so far for telling aforementioned retard tuk tuk driver to head north and not south. Other things, Sri Lankan Central banks won’t do GBP from the machine. Use HSBC for these purposes. Preferably with one of their current accounts to avoid charges. To get around this issue I’m withdrawing on a Halifax Clarity card at zero fees and then transferring the cash to the card to avoid interest. Being a credit card it also offers buyers protection so is a little safer than debit card withdrawals.
Next post about Colombo may feature some attractions and pictures but as there is only really a museum, a gallery and a park on our list it might be a droll one.
“10–4. Over and out Rubber Ducky.”
*Colombo is split up into numbered districts. Colombo Fort our intended destination was in Colombo 1. I didn’t say Colombo 1 because I didn’t know this.