Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sri Lanka - refrigerators, three wheelers and monkeys

With a week or so to spare before Andrew starts a 2nd evaluation contract we decided to head over to Sri Lanka on Air Asia.  We overnighted at Kuala Lumpur airport in the SMALLEST hotel room ever seen.  The entrance door hit the bed as it swung in, and the bathroom door hit the other side of the bed.  But it was clean and functional for a brief sleep and a 5 minute walk before checking back in for a 6:00am flight.

When we got in to Colombo airport only Andrew was looking at duty free alcohol. Every second person was wheeling a refrigerator or television through customs.  We found out later that overseas workers (in the Gulf etc) were entitled to bring duty free electronic items into Sri Lanka based on length of overseas service. 

This trip we had a driver, Wije, and an 8 seater van.  Once Andrew had removed the headrest from the front seat to give him unrestricted views he was as happy as a sandboy cruising above the traffic. 

 Traffic moved at an average of about 35km per hour, so we didn’t do any long distances.  And with only a week we limited ourselves to Sigiriya in the cultural triangle, a tea plantation and Colombo city.
The drive through to Habarana was about 4.5 hours and 160km.   The roads were less plagued with wandering farm animals than here in Laos but the driving style made us very glad we had a driver.  The ubiquitous form of short distance public transport here is the three wheeler.  They can be packed to the gunnels and can weave erratically through the traffic.

We stayed at Chaaya Village in nice little bungalows.  As we relaxed by the pool, we saw elephants walking around the lake and a troup of monkeys wandered back and forth.

The Sri Lankans we met were fantastic – bar one – the waiter at dinner. There was a buffet and he hovered over us to make us decide whether we wanted a buffet or a la carte. Then he seated us in the middle of the buffet diners. There we sat staring at our empty plates while people wandered up and down heaping food on theirs. 40 minutes later, feeling decidedly out of place, our dried up menu offerings were delivered to table – meh! Really, our only bad experience was here, at the start. 

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