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My many short trips
18th Feb 2017 - 19th Feb 2017 - Sri Lanka
Negombo

A teardrop? Or a pearl? The two main ways people describe Sri Lanka, located off the bottom of India in the Indian Ocean. A country that has suffered through decades of civil war and through terrible destruction following the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004. In 2009, after 30 years, the civil war finally came to an end and tourism, which had always been existing in the south, began to boom. Around 1.2m visitors came in 2015, a 5% increase on 2014, and this number looks set to continue rising. All these tourists arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo which, confusingly, isn’t actually in Colombo but in Negombo, a small beach town, about a 45 minute drive away. A lot of flights also arrive in the middle of the night, making Negombo the much more appealing first destination than trekking to the capital.

I was due to arrive at 3.45am and so had booked into a hostel that had an airport pick up. Easy. Except I had made one fatal mistake. I didn’t print out the address of the hostel in case anything went wrong with the airport pick up. Which it did. In that it didn’t arrive. The hostel had given me instructions – where to go when leaving the airport, a phone number to ring to get the tuk tuk driver to collect me, and then a meeting point to meet the tuk tuk driver. I left the airport, rang the number, but no one answered. I rang again. Still no one answered. At 4.30am, I have little patience. I went to the taxi stand, figuring I’d rather be at the hostel via a more expensive taxi than the cheaper tuk tuk, gave them the name of the hostel, but they’d never heard of it. He asked his mate. Nope, not a clue. So, we set off to drive round the streets of Negombo to find my hostel.

It was never found.

At 6am, I called it and told the driver to find me anywhere I could get some sleep. Problem is, these are all guesthouses rather than big hotels with a 24 hour reception. So nowhere is open. They do, however, have signposts outside them with phone numbers on. So the taxi driver starting ringing each one in turn until he found someone who would answer, who, luckily, had a spare room, opened up and let me in. At this point, I would have slept pretty much anywhere but thankfully it was a decent room and I could get my head down for a few hours.

When I woke up, I went out for a little to explore. I also had a decision to make. Technically, I was booked into a hostel in Colombo the following night, which would mean having to catch a bus to take me to the capital. But, this was the sister hostel of the one that had just screwed me over and, as I hadn’t paid any money to make the reservation, I was feeling disinclined to honour the booking. So I decided to stay in Negombo for an extra night and head on from there. As it is so close to the airport, it does have fairly good transport links for exploring the island.

The town of Negombo is a couple of kms away from the beach area where I was, but that was fine as I only wanted to relax. So I found some food, rice and curry, the staple of the Sri Lankan diet, then hit the beach. Whilst it may not have been as beautiful as the ones on the south coast that I was hoping to visit later, it certainly had its charms over London! By the evening, I found myself a small restaurant serving fresh fish for dinner and had a very well deserved beer to take away any feelings of trepidation that the only plans I had made for Sri Lanka had gone wrong and was now about to travel with no plans made! 



Next: The Cultural Triangle
Previous: Sri Lanka


Diary Photos
19th Feb 2017  Negombo

19th Feb 2017  Negombo

19th Feb 2017  Negombo

19th Feb 2017  Negombo

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