Alright, here we go. My first EVER travel report.
On 4th of April, I flew nearly 14 hours (including one hour transit in Singapore) from Melbourne to the mysterious island country Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean.
For those who's not particularly good at geography, its here. Location A. Thank you Google map.
Landed in the Bandaranaike International Airport, I was greeted by the humid heat regardless of my 11.50pm arriving time. As my friend Miss Vivienne and I walked out from the corridor, a big (well, big enough to be put in a proper temple) buddha was sitting in the center of the arriving lobby, smiling at (actually, it was really hard to tell) the passangers as they walk by.
For travellers from most of the countries in the world, you either do not need a visa or you can get a visa upon arrival. In my case, visa on arrival. The custom officer asked me a few questions and stamped on my passport. Did not even take 2 minutes.
Well, if you are travelling to Sri Lanka, my advice on the matter of currency exchange would be take an international debit card and go to the HSBC (or other big international banks, which I did not see) and withdraw rupees from the ATM. The rate you get from the ATM is higher than that you get in the airport. And when we got there, the rate was around 1 AUD=124 Rupees, and the biggest note was 2000 rupees.
Came out from the arrival lobby, it took us a while to find a taxi. Even though it was nearly 1am, it was very noisy outside the airport building. I think that was when I realized one of the main transportation in Sri Lanka was electro-tricycles. Tutu, as the locals call them.
After looking around for a while, we saw a small sign saying Taxi and we felt like we were saved. After a brief interaction with the lady sitting behind the window, we got a taxi for 1580rupees for about 9km. At this point, we did not know that we got ripped off, but eventually we figured it out. Oh, also, I thought it was quite interesting that one has to show his passport for taxi booking there, and the taxi was not metered.
My first taxi ride in Sri Lanka was no big deal, but I noticed that when we book the hotel, the English address we were given was only a little bit more helpful than completely useless. The suburb in the address was correct, but the street name and number were just not helpful at all. So everytime our drivers tried to find a place he had to ask people on the sidewalks, but all the people we bumped into were nice enough to give us detailed directions. Not that I could understand the language, but I could make a few guesses from their gestures and tones.
Alright, at this point, I realized if I write down everything I experienced and thought while I was there, I will never be able to finish this series. So let's fast forward.
A few things to put out front:
1. Air-conditioning is still somehow considered as a form of luxury in Sri Lanka. I got that when I saw hotel ads saying "Hot shower and Air-Con AVAILABLE!!!"
2. You assume people can more or less understand English since its a popular travel destination, but no, not really.
3. Girls, shorts and mini skirts are hot here, not in Sri Lanka. Long skirts over knees will be the new sexy for you.
4. Going to temples on a sunny day? Make sure you bring socks. I will tell you why later.
Real travel log starts from part 2! T.B.C.
Story by Sherry Chen
Photo by Sherry Chen and Vivienne Zhou