In the last few days, I’ve travelled through Sri Lanka with my tour guide Roshan, and have now slowly made the mental transition from Myanmar to Sri Lanka – which wasn’t that easy for me, I must admit…
Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with friendly people, one of whom has helped me tremendeously putting together my trip. It’s been hit hard by the 2004 Tsunami, has just come out of a long, brutal civil war, and finds itself on the up, being ranked Number 2 of South Asian countries in terms of per capita income. Every second shop seems to be a mobile phone shop, internet is pretty much everywhere, and it’s a dream of tropical vegetation, beautiful beaches, and riches of indigenous fruits, vegetables, and flowers.
My only gripe (and also that needs to be part of the experience and the telling): The Tourist has long been recognized as the „money on legs“ go-to person, and it’s not only the ubiquitous souvenir sellers who latch on to you and won’t leave you alone or recognize a No, it’s pretty much everyone. Everywhere, the shouts of „oi – what is your name – where are you from – look here – give you discount – very good price – especially for you“ etc etc go up. It’s like the Pavlovian Dog – show one blond hair, and it gets the souvenir sellers’ saliva flowing. I’ve started to tell them I’m from the Moon and my name is Luna, which doesn’t deter the order of questions at all. I don’t know if it is because I am a solo travelling woman, or because Myanmar was so much better in that respect, and people actually talk to you there because they’d like to know about you and your culture, and not because they want money money money, but I find it extremely annoying, and at times, it’s hardly bearable for me.
Also – my mistake – I’d ordered budget class for my hotels; and for that, one does need quite a high tolerance level for creepy crawlies and dirt in bed- and bathroom (it IS a tropical country, after all), and I found that my tolerance levels are lower than expected. Note to self – no budget class anymore – after all, I am not a young backpacker anymore…
But – as someone mentioned to me – „Sri Lanka grows on you“ – which you could either take to mean „you’ll get used to it“ or „it will get better“. Whichever it is – Sri Lanka grew on me. It started with a train journey from Kandy to Ella – 7 hours for 150 kilometres, 3rd class compartment – I’d had visions of sitting amongst chicken, goats and sacks of rice, but the compartment was really civilized and I only had a Singhalese woman sleeping on my shoulder. The country is truly beautiful – the train journey went through the tea plantations in the mountains – of tea, I’ll write more in a separate blog entry. I would highly recommend this journey (3rd compartment should be with seat reservation, and best sitting at the right hand side, when travelling from Kandy to Ella). And after I’d mentioned my dislike of mold, creepy crawlies and dirt to my tour guide, the rooms have become better.
So now I am sitting at a beach again, looking at the palm trees, am happy not to be in the English winter (I do feel for you guys), thinking about life and everything else. And starting to plan where my next beer shall come from – that’s the other thing about Sri Lanka, most restaurants or grocery shops do not have an alcohol license. Prost.
I have been following your blog and your travels sound amazing. Well done you for being brave enough to take the break and follow your dream.
I am very jealous as I sit in the UK winter but I look forward to hearing more of your travels and living vicariously……….
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