Sunday 10 March 2013 – London – Colombo, Sri Lanka
After bidding farewell to El I walked back to the flat to shower and finish (start) packing before saying a thank you and see you later to Kevin. I left him sitting in the lounge with the entire contents of the kitchen stacked around him as a total kitchen renovation had started a couple of days ago, fortunately arranged around my departure date. Thanks Kevin, I really enjoyed staying in the flat and your company.
I left in the late afternoon and walked in a cool drizzle back to London Bridge station and caught the long slow tube out to Heathrow Airport. I was there semi-early and the check-in process was smooth, friendly and pain free – basically the best part of the Sri Lankan Airways experience… Once in the departure lounge I had a couple of glasses of Shiraz in one of the bars, caught up on some last minute emails and FaceBook messages and wondered if I would enjoy a month on my own on the road again.
The last bit of solo travelling I did was back in August in Spain and it was a fairly miserable time, with pretty much all of it spent as the sole English speaking traveller in the small villages I visited in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Hopefully Sri Lanka will have a good pool of travellers to share stories, experiences and the occasional meal with.
I am also a little concerned about the cost of Sri Lanka, from all I have read and heard it sounds like it is not a cheap place to stay – especially as a single traveller – has to be cheaper than London – surely!
For a full service flight, albeit a cheap one; the flight to Colombo on Sri Lankan was, as commented in the many unfavourable internet reviews – entirely average. I could not eat the food, the worst type of low quality airline food that I thought went out in the eighties. The service was slow – but with a smile, so credit where it was due. The seat was uncomfortable and I was wedged in next to a rather large young man, who sort of oozed over onto my seat as soon as he sat down. I had screwed up my seat selection and ended up in the middle two seats in the centre block of four, damn airlines inconsistent seat numbering systems !!
What good there was to say about it was the ride was smooth all the way to Colombo, and it was a relief to get off. Getting through immigration was a breeze as I had arranged visa on-line before departing London and I was soon in the back of a car that my friend Trudy had booked to take me the thirty kilometres from the airport to her apartment in Colombo’s district 2.
First impressions of Colombo from the back of a car ?
Clean and tidy. As is usual in Asia the horn is the most used piece of the car, even if the roads are not crowded. It ‘feel’s OK, I don’t feel intimated by being in an alien environment like I did the first time, nothing looks really strange. I like knowing that I have grown from my first touch of Asia fourteen months ago, and even the heat wasn’t too bad…
Trudy is an old friend from way back, we travelled Europe together twenty five years ago and though she is Australian and I have seen her a few times since, most recently in London in June, she has a job that gives her a 10th floor apartment in a 35 story block just outside the ‘centre’ of town in Colombo 2.
There is a lot of building work going on in the area as more tower blocks are being built, which is as usual a bit short sighted as there is too much capacity as it is, though I guess no-one knows what the future will bring.
Once I had got myself sorted we went for a walk down towards the waterfront and Galle Face Green. It took about twenty minutes to get to the ocean and we passed this open air laundry on the way.
Galle Face Green faces onto the Indian Ocean and is hugely popular at the weekends with people flying kites, bathing and couples courting. It was a lovely evening so the beach was very crowded as we left. I love the modesty of the Sri Lankan people, no bikinis or even swimsuits here. I find it quite endearing.
We walked to the far end of the green to the old lighthouse, bizarrely only the side facing the see has been painted, or maybe that just be logically!
This is the old parliament building and taking photos of it is prohibited, sorry Sri Lanka I am bad. But it is a lovely old colonial building and there are not that many that can be photographed.
We walked back to the Galle Face Hotel for a couple of sun downers
before heading back to Trudy’s, in a tuk-tuk. I was knackered, the heat zapped me today. I am sure I wont take long to get used to it though.
I was dropping off through dinner so had an early night, barely making it to 9:00 PM. Sri Lanka is five half hours ahead of London, which is just so out of whack.