Friday, January 27, 2012

Sri Lankan Impressions

Tuesday, January 24th
Landed in Colombo, Sri Lanka at 3am, easily paid for a visa for our stay, and went through customs. While waiting for our luggage, we watched most of the passengers from our flight get their huge bags off the belt and immediately start opening and transferring Indian products into other bags. There was alot of scurrying around and the feeling they were panicked about their goods. My toes were stepped on more than once. Our guest house was awesome and had a driver waiting with Sarahs name on a sign. He was very good about showing us things along the way even though it was dark. By the time we got to the building the guest house was in, it was after 4:30am. We had to go to the 3rd floor of the residential building and woke the guy up on the couch to let us in. He barely spoke english and our driver had to communicate with him, he was hesitant to leave us. We got the impression that there weren't any rooms available. Finally we just went into one if the rooms where an australian girl had been sleeping in one of the two bunk beds. Luckily she was getting up to go pick her boyfriend up from the airport. Needless to say we went to sleep until about 10am. The kitchen balcony had an amazing view on the beach! Didn't waste any time putting on our stuits and heading to the beach! Found a nice local outdoor restaurant that had a really cool lifted cabana with a table where we befriended the 'entrepreneurs' and their friends. They love americans and for whatever reason they're fascinated by my hair color being so dark.. I guess fair skinned people aren't known for dark hair?? The food was ok. The noodles had dried fish and no flavor. The devel chicken had great flavor but way too many bones. Then we had a situation with a few scary crows.. Now you all know Sarah is deathly afraid of birds... I spent a majority of lunch hopping out of my chair to scare them away! Lol After lunch we walked down the beach and found a quiet place to take a nap and relax. The sand is so beautiful and the water is so blue and clear! Everyone that walked by had to stop and say hi. We finally had to tell a group of teenagers that we were going to take a nap. I think they thought we didn't like them. When we woke up we went back to the guest house and then headed to the main street called Galle to catch the #100 bus to go to Mount Lavania to wander around. Doing a great beach side restaurant called Bubbas Seafood. Sounds like it might be something out of Forest Gump but it was very classy and the food was great! I had the grilled sri lankan spiced darne of seer with a tangy lemon butter sauce. Amazing! Seer is a local white fish that is grilled and then served with different sauces. The atmosphere of the place was really cool and we had a great view of the sunday and a cruise ship off in the distance. We took a tuk tuk back to the guest house and were greated by the owner, Horshini. She is a 32 year old engineer and so sweet! We chatted with her for quite awhile and learned she is newly married, her husband is a doctor in the UK and they bought the apartment originally to live there but decided to turn it into a guest house recently. She was surprised to have so many bookings in the first week she listed and was excited to hear our recommendations. We were the first to write in her comment book! Originally we were apprehensive about the place but once we met Horshini we felt so much better and plan to stay one more night before we leave Sri Lanka.

Wednesday, January 25th
Slept in and packed our things to head to the main bus station in Colombo. Originally we were going to take the bus but decided it would be too hard with our packs and the amount of people they cram on one bus. So we negotiated a rate with a tuk tuk and held on for dear life! The bus station was very well laid out with clear signage. We bought extra water and a bag of green apples for the ride. Finding our bus and getting situated was so easy! We were lucky enough to sit in the very back of the A/C bus with our packs behind us. Now the buses don't leave until every seat is taken, I think it may have token 30 minutes at the very max. Along the way more people were picked up at different stops and seats in the aisles folded down. If one person got off, someone would move to his seat and it would all shuffle again. They have it down! The bus ride took about 3 hours to Kandy and it cost 245 Rupees (about $2.50). I took a dramamine JUST in case.. Once we arrived in Kandy we had to brave the mass amount of tuk tuks in order to cross the street. We finally settled on a tuk tuk and told him where we wanted to go.. Only for him to get us so lost and doing almost a whole lap around the lake! The thing with tuk tuks is that when you get in and tell then where you're going, they will ALWAYS tell you they know where that is. We have yet to meet one that actually knows where he is going. Oh and also make sure you negotiate rate before you get in. The tuk tuk that took us to the bus station in Colombo tried to tell us it was 500 rupees per person when we got there, I told him thats not what we adhered on, gave him a 500 and we walked away. If you hesitate, they got you!! Ok so back to Kandy. Our tuk tuk finally found the Kandy View Hotel with our help and we were frustrated to find out from the owner that they did not have the standard room available that we had booked. BUT he could give us a luxury room for no extra cost for the night and then we would have to move to a standard room for the next night. At that point we were ok with it and just wanted to get into our room to wash up and relax. We had a Sri Lankan dinner of curries, rice, and dessert. The owner kept visiting our table trying to set up a tour guide. We already knew we wanted to go to Sugiriya for the day and unfortunately his prices were way too high. He found a father and daughter from Shanghai that were interested in splitting the cost of a driver (3,500 rupees) and planned to meet the next day at 7:30am to go.

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