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Vancouver Airport to Colombo
The total trip time was 37hrs and going in I was worried that it would be exhausting. It turned out being not so bad. Right from the get-go I got into a sort of meditative travel state, put my brain in cruise control and worked, read, watched two movies, ate, and slept a bit. Next thing I knew, I was in Sri Lanka. Trip highlights were:
- Seeing Kareem Abdul-Jabaar in LAX. Every time I go through that airport I see someone famous. Granted, I’ve only been there twice, but 2/2 is way higher odds than North Bay airport for example, which I’ve been to at least a dozen times and never seen anyone famous. Kareem is so tall he had to duck his head to walk out the door. I didn’t talk to him because I’m a Vancouver Grizzlies fan and he’s a Laker.
- Food on the Sri Lankan Airways Flight from London to Colombo. They gave us lowly folk in economy class meal menus! Exito. Like any other flight that serve food, there were only two options for the dinner and breakfast food, but being given menus added class to the affair. It’s like being in a restaurant in the sky with the world’s tiniest tables. At minimal extra cost to the airline, printing menus was definitely worth it. Think of all the people like you reading this rave review that came as a result. Other airlines take note. I had curry for dinner, and curry for breakfast and drank Ceylon tea and arrak, the Sri Lankan booze. My introduction to Sri Lankan cuisine was complete and I hadn’t even landed yet.
Colombo Airport to Kandy:
Time for action at long last! There’s no better feeling like touching down in a foreign place where everything is different – the air, smell, colors, sounds – and you know your goal is to become familiar with them all by the end of the trip.
Immigration was super fast and another example of line-up blindness was in full effect. There were three lines about 10 deep of travelers waiting to go through, while at the other side of a pillar were three other immigration officers completely unoccupied and playing Angry Birds. Everyone must assume that since nobody else is there, that those guys must be there for other reasons, so they go to the line up instead. Well to assume is to make an “ass” out of “u” and “me”, and while I don’t know about you, I’m no ass, so I went and disrupted the unoccupied immigration officers’ angry bird session. Ten seconds later, I was through immigration and ahead of all the people who fifteen minutes prior were jostling in the aisle of the plane to be the first ones off.
Since I don’t check bags I went to straight to customs. Unlike anywhere else I’d seen before, there was a big line for the “Something to Declare” side and nothing at the “Nothing to Declare”. And by nothing I mean nothing. There wasn’t even a dude collecting custom forms. Feeling like I was doing something wrong, I walked extra slowly through the exit and made eye contact with the group of seven guys in uniform nearby to make it apparent that I wasn’t trying to sneak by. They paid me no heed and continued to gossip about last night’s episode of CSI: Colombo.
After customs I met up with my girlfriend Kim, the Human Emoji, who had arrived about four hours before me and had already had her share of adventure, having had her cell phone stolen at a café in Negombo. This changes the whole dynamic of our trip as we no longer will be able to Snapchat each other from opposite sites of our tuk-tuk or hotel room.
We took a tuk-tuk to the train station closest to the airport, where we were dismayed to find out the next train wasn’t for four hours, despite assurance from the tuk-tuk driver that one was leaving in 30 mins. Luckily, we’ve watched the Amazing Race before and knew how to deal with travel trials and tribulations. We quickly managed to find a bus that took us the junction of the main road to Kandy, where we jumped on the first express A/C bus that came by about 10 mins later. We were lucky to get the last two fold-down aisle seats.
The sons of the guesthouse we were staying at, Heavens Homestay, picked us up from the main bus area in Kandy and drove us to the place, which was a good 30 mins from the bus station. One of the guys “spoke” French and was eager to practice with me. He said he was planning on being a translator, but since he did not yet know the word for “translate” in French, I was skeptical.
Heavens Homestay was in a peaceful area (i.e. the middle of nowhere. Not a bad nor a good thing) and was unremarkable. We were dismayed to be told, after the fact of course, that the pickup service was 1000 rupees. We paid, but expressed our disappointment. Wasn’t the opportunity to practice his French with me worth anything to this guy?
We settled in, “rested” a bit, and then headed out in search of dinner, having decided not to eat in as protest to the exorbitant pick-up fee. The restaurants “just up the street” turned out to be farther than expected, but thanks to the Last Emperor’s little brother – some preternaturally serene 6-yr-old with the traditional shaved head and orange robe who appeared out of the darkness to guide us – we made it.
Being 8pm already it was harder than expected to find a place serving local food. We ended up at a place where the chef said he’d make us something special. We ended up having some curried beans, yellow slaw of some sort, crazy spicy fish and deer, a serving platter piled high with rice and beer we bought from across the street and were allowed to bring in. It was a lot of shit. The guy who served us whispered to us not to tell anyone that we were eating deer. I guess they’re big fans of Bambi here. It’d been a while since I’d last challenged myself with such spicy food and was a struggle, but I persevered. This brings me to my Theory of the Day:
Theory of the Day:
Spicy Food Diet
Eating ridiculously spicy food slows you down and diminishes your desire to pig out, even if it is really tasty. This makes it perfect for dieting. By eating slowly you give your stomach the time to tell you it’s full before getting the chance to pack it with even more junk, and the spiciness keeps your appetite just right. As an added bonus, I’m quite sure the spiciness “expedites” and “facilitates” the digestion process. To lose some pounds, fuck eating expensive shit; eat almost intolerably spicy stuff instead.
After dinner, we walked back to the guesthouse and crashed.
- How much would it be to rent a tuk-tuk? That would be a blast. We could even make some extra rupees on the side. I’m sure the novelty of a white-boy tuk-tuk driver would entice some local clients
- LAX is a horrible airport. It’s ugly, lines are long, nothing interesting to kill time doing. They should have outdoor waiting areas like Madrid.
- Why is Heathrow so cheap with only giving 45 mins wifi? Cheap Brits.
- So far every person in Sri Lanka we’ve met has a relative living in Toronto
- I love the style of some guys who wear the sheet around their legs, kind of like how guys wrap towels around them after they shower. I should ask them how they tie it. Whenever I tie a towel like that, it inevitably falls off within seconds.
- Traveling with a big bag here would be a pain in the ass. It’s always a pain in the ass, but even more so here, where there’s no space on buses, tuk-tuks, etc.
- Don’t bother booking accommodation online. Get a SIM in Sri Lanka and call when you’re there. It’s cheaper and easier.