We woke up early to pack our last items and have breakfast. We said goodbye to Sheila. Steve took us to the airport. We were nicely on time so that we could check in first. We ate and drank something and called home to pass the time. Our first flight to Kuala Lumpur went smoothly. Ely wasn’t immediately at ease. Having a fear of flying and flying with a low-cost airline like Malindo doesn’t help with the nerves. We were offered a delicious meal and plenty of water. That’s all we need! Ely occasionally ordered a beer and was also satisfied. We had a short layover in Kuala Lumpur. Just enough time to get off the plane, have a quick bathroom break and go through security again. It was a convenient connection for our three-hour flight to Colombo. This flight was quite turbulent, and we had to fasten our seatbelts for almost the entire duration. Not really conducive to bathroom breaks. Ely decided to go to the restroom. They asked to remain seated, but it was urgent. They asked to be careful. Other than that, everything went well!
We arrived in Colombo completely exhausted. We were quickly assisted at immigration, and our luggage came out promptly. A bit overwhelmed by all the stalls at the airport selling various electronic appliances (washing machines, refrigerators, and so on), we withdrew some money and bought SIM cards each. In the meantime, we were approached by taxi drivers about five times. I was getting fed up with persistence, so we quickly arranged a taxi to Negombo. We arrived at our room around 2 am. We immediately crawled under the covers. Due to the excitement and the time difference with Australia, I couldn’t fall asleep immediately and only managed to sleep around 5 am.
Not sleeping well and tired, we woke up around 8 am to a lot of noise in the corridor. Now that it was light outside, we noticed how humid our room was. The humidity here is extreme, sometimes reaching up to 80%. The air conditioning in our room wasn’t working, so we had to make do with the fan. We took a refreshing shower and headed to the city center. We strolled along the beach and stumbled upon a cozy breakfast bar. They asked us to remove our shoes. We were offered a variety of delicious treats, including a typical Sri Lankan pancake. We were exhausted from the flight and decided to take it easy for the day. After enjoying an additional drink and a tasty lunch, we felt it was time to explore the city more. We arranged for a tuk-tuk and visited some interesting places, including the fish market, a fort, the canals, and much more.
It took some time to adjust and adapt here in Sri Lanka. The culture is entirely different from Australia, which is logical. But out of all the countries in Asia, I feel that this country is quite different, even compared to places like Thailand. It is also not very touristy yet, so everyone looks at you, and the customs differ. We noticed that there is still a lot of poverty here. The hygiene standards are sometimes really not what they should be. But it is definitely worth it.
The untouched and beautiful nature without overcrowded tourists everywhere is a refreshing break from Australia. The masses of stray dogs took some getting used to as well. It is said that there are about three million stray animals living in Sri Lanka. There are a lot of tuk-tuks, also known as three-wheelers, on the roads. Traffic rules don’t seem to exist here, and you can count the number of traffic lights on one hand. Your heart skips a beat with every overtaking maneuver, but the system seems to work despite all the chaos. They sometimes drive with four people on a two-lane road, but you can see how everything flows together smoothly.
In the afternoon, we enjoyed a nice drink on the beach, and I unexpectedly received a phone call from my dear colleagues. It was lovely and reminded me how much I miss everyone (even though we’re still having a great time here!). After a delicious dinner, we crawled into bed, tired but satisfied after our first day in Sri Lanka. Thankfully, our eyes closed quickly after all the impressions here!
X Inez & Ely