All good things have to come to an end, we left Hansa Surf in Hikkaduwa with heavy hearts and made our way to Colombo. We were going to bypass the capital but new experiences and all that so we took the 2 hr 30 min train for £1 with Ellen and Margaret and arrived at a hostel they’d stayed at when they first arrived, bargained the price down to £10 (it had A/C and breakfast so worth it!) and settled in – I couldn’t wait after 4 nights of dodgy fans and sweating my arse off!
I bought a bracelet and Sri Lankan cricket vest before dinner and I had pizza ? because my stomach was still doing backflips from the kottu we had earlier at a local canteen type restaurant. I think I’m ready for a break from Sri Lankan food. We had to say bye to Ellen who was moving in to Dubai before going home and Margaret was leaving the next day too, sad times all round.
Tuesday 21st April
First mission in Colombo, find a post office – easier said than done. No one seems to post letters anymore and we kept getting directed to a derelict building and out of use post box! Eventually we found the right one, hope the postcards get there. We started to wonder towards central Colombo, just wanting to explore the city at peace…but it wasn’t long before offers of help, tuk tuk rides and purchases were shouted towards us. Honestly if I wanted toner for my printer I wouldn’t have come all this way. We must have been asked 50 times if we needed help which did my head on after a while. Eventually one of them got a better response out of Rachel, a local man who just started walking and talking along beside us, then wouldn’t leave us alone and basically volunteered himself as our tour guide while ‘on his lunch break.’ Before we knew it he’d flagged down a tuk tuk and were headed for a Buddha temple, being told to donate 400 rupees to enter. We had refused to get in the tuk tuk, insisting we wanted to walk and had no money, but Homar insisted he would cover it…
To be fair, this guy knew a lot, I started to wonder if he really was on his lunch break? There were lots of Buddhas, monks and randomely old classic cars (that’s where the donations are going then). The temple was actually impressive, we took lots of pictures, got blessed and given a white string bracelet for luck and life from the monk and led past a ‘staff only’ sign to something I was not prepared for…an elephant laying on his side being bathed! Suddenly our annoying tour guide became a legend and we were allowed to wash the elephant with the hose and scratch him with a coconut. The elephant was clearly loving it and blowing water around and after 5 minutes I had a true bond with the mini beast!
We made our way to the exit and found a waiting tuk tuk (not the one we arrived in) so we could continue ‘the tour’ ….right stop a sec. We didn’t want to go anywhere else so politely declined but soon the man was telling us we needed to pay the waiting tuk tuk driver – 2000 rupees! No thank you! We said we weren’t paying since we never requested a driver, that was down to Homar, the local man. Surprisingly, it didn’t take much for the guy to say OK and send us on our way which probably shows he knew he was trying to pull a fast one. We started walking back and within seconds another tuk tuk driver approached claiming he’d seen the whole thing and they’d be telling the police on us for not paying…his answer was to get in his tuk tuk and he’d ‘help us out’ ….it never ends ha. We said we’d be fine and again walked away. What do you know, no police. At first I liked this place but after exploring it’s just another city looking to make a quick buck from tourists.
After some lunch, we said bye to Margaret and made our way to Negombo for our flight. Thanks to both you and Ellen for all the hints and tips you’ve given us for our future travels, it was so good to kick start the journey with class people like you and we hope you’re loving being back at home seeing family and friends! I’m sure we’ll see you again on some corner of the world, maybe Chicago ?
Everything we’ve done, seen, eaten (mostly) has been amazing in Sri Lanka and the people have topped it off so we’re hoping this continues as we head to Asia. Sri Lanka you’ve been beautiful, next stop Singapore and Malaysia!
James and Rach x