According to Hindu Mythology thousands of years back, Pushpak Viman were used to commute between India and Kingdom of Ravana. As the services have been discontinued now, I boarded a Jet airways flight and landed into the island nation of Sri Lanka.
I entered Sri Lanka without any fixed itinerary and bookings. The plan was to start the journey without any plan and go with the flow. Hence as expected this time the ride was a bumpy ride. Sometimes things didn’t go as smoothly as expected. The schedule became hectic as well. But overall I enjoyed my short stay of 5 days in Sri Lanka thoroughly .
Sri Lanka in many respects is similar to India. People, weather, traffic and surrounding gives an impression that you are in India itself. There were times when I forgot I am outside India and started talking with shopkeepers in Hindi. In return when I got a blank face with a question mark in their eyes, then I realized I need to switch the language.
I tried to capture as much as possible in 5 days and here are my eleven observations during my stay there.
1. Sri Lanka is an Island nation with a tropical weather. There are subtle changes in weather conditions among places/cities not so apart in distance. Colombo was hot and humid, Kandy had a moderate temperature, Nuwara Eliya was very cold and Galle had rains in last 5 days.
2. Public transport in Sri Lanka is slow so review your travel time estimates again if you are comparing with your home country. Train rides are beautiful but very slow mode of travel. Bus rides are somewhat faster but bad traffic condition increases the travel time again. On an average expect to have a travel speed of 40 KM/Hour between two places and plan accordingly.
3. Finding vegetarian food in Sri Lanka is not tough. With the availability of south India food like Dosa and Idli at most of the places, vegetarians do not need to worry much. Alternatively fried rice, curries and breads are available at most of the places.
4. Most of the Sri Lankans are friendly towards tourists and will offer you help whenever required. I was also skeptical about behavior towards Indians because of the history involved. But I didn’t feel any malice towards Indians. I was treated very well by everyone including the common man who is not from tourism industry but just met me on the road.
5. Hindi movie songs are very popular in Sri Lanka. I could hear them being played on FM radio, in shops and inside shopping malls. Ashiqui-2 Songs are hit in Sri Lanka as well.
6. Pedestrians are respected in Sri Lanka and whenever I had to cross the road, I could see vehicles stopping to give the way. This is something we Indians can learn from our neighbor.
7. Most of the buses are not convenient to travel with luggage. Forget about the leg space even if you have to place a small bag near your legs. So either take a taxi which will be expensive or buy ticket for an extra seat to put your luggage.
8. Sri Lanka is slightly expensive than India, especially accommodation costs when compared with room quality leaves a lot to be desired.
9. Sri Lanka is trying to promote tourism as much as possible. Tourists are made to feel welcome from airport itself. As a small token of help, at immigration you are provided with a Sim Card with balance of 50 LKR (Sri Lankan Rupees) and you can straight away start using calling/data services. This 50 LKR comes as a loan and if you want to use further you can recharge with required amount and 50 LKR will be deducted first. If your use remains within 50 LKR, you do not need to pay anything. It is not a big amount but a good gesture and saves the tourist from the hassle of finding a mobile store.
10. Lottery tickets are sold everywhere from bus stand to market to common streets.
11. A lot of vehicles manufactured in India can be seen on Sri Lankan road. Bajaj Autos, Ashok Leyland Buses and Tata Nano are some of the examples.
The highlight of my trip was the trek in Horton National Park which I will cover in upcoming posts. For now have a glance at some of the snapshots of Sri Lanka summarizing my visit.