Chennai airport must be the skankiest, most disgusting useless airport on the face of the earth. You need vaccinations before you go in the toilets and in the whole of departures there is one place selling food that has only five items on the entire menu. We turned up at 7am hoping to get through security and then grab breakfast. The reality was we took about an hour and half to get through security and then were forced to eat the world’s spiciest samosas and a packet of masala flavour crisps for breakfast.
The flight was to last an hour and after about forty minutes we flew above the coastline of Northern Sri Lanka. The sea was emerald green and the island looked stunning.
Sri Lanka has been in and out of civil war for decades and it is only a month back that the FCO declared the far North of Sri Lanka safe for British tourists opening up a whole new world of exploration previously left alone by all but the dumbest travellers. The rest of Sri Lanka has been open doors for years since honeymooners started coming here a long time ago for pristine unspoilt beaches, good prices and somewhere that didn’t entail a two day journey and three flight changes in the process. Only five and a half hours in front of the UK and a direct flight of ten hours Sri Lanka has been firmly on the honeymoon agenda for some time and even now it is the second most popular honeymoon destination in the world for those getting hitched in the UK. I guess really that speaks for itself, decades of happy customers can’t be wrong and having known a few people who have blessed these shores with their presence I have yet to hear a bad word said about the country once referred to as ‘a teardrop off the coast of India’ or the real ‘emerald Isle’
That is why a fortnights jolly to Sri Lanka will leave you little change out of a few grand if you’re lucky but will supposedly leave you begging for more long after you have left. (We’ll see)
Colombo airport is nowhere near Colombo (the capitol of Sri Lanka) and so most independent travellers avoid chaos and head straight to the beach town of Negombo.
Arriving at the airport was slick and streamlined, we shot straight through immigration in seconds – The guy didn’t even check our passports, just stamped us in. Our bags were waiting for us at the carousel and I wondered if this was the most efficient airport in the world.
Once through arrivals we got hounded by taxi drivers wanting to part us of our funds. The journey to Negombo is about 10km away and so really should be around 500LKR (Sri Lankan Rupees – about £2.80) since the going rate is roughly 50 rupees per km, which is about twice what you can expect to pay in India. Prices being thrown around in my ear were 1500LKR, we ignored them and turned left out of arrivals and walked down to the bus stand. It is a free shuttle that takes you to the local bus station. Once there you can hop onto a bus bound for Negombo for 20 rupees each. The whole journey took about half an hour and gave us a chance to get a feel for where we were. It also made us realise how chilled out Sri Lanka is. It is on par with Thailand for the vibe of just relaxedness and coming from India we appreciate it so much more.
The bus bopped along and was being held together with nothing but hope and a belief that machinery was built to last forever. Music blasted out and combined with mosquito bites including one on my eyelid and one on Abi’s arse we liked what we saw.
We got kicked off the bus at Negombo bus station which was the plan, I wanted to see where it was for the following day.
A quick tuk tuk (100 LKR) and we were at the South end of Negombo beach, or more specifically – Lewis place. The first hotel we went in had a room for 2000LKR (just over a tenner) and we had views of the beach, which if I’m honest is snide.
We walked the length of the beach and found it wasn’t too long, it took about twenty minutes from our hotel up to the Tesco’s at the North end (which is actually just a corner shop someone has copyrighted as being Tesco – There is an Asda too) but it was very hot and so for any tourist falling straight off the back of the UK it might be quite stifling. Us being ninja’s we barely noticed it…much…
If tourism came to a halt, Negombo would vanish off the face of the earth since every single thing there is geared toward tourists which might for some people be a bad thing. But in perspective it’s actually great because it gives you a chance to get yourself sorted before you launch the assault on Sri Lanka proper. Or, as is also the case gives you one last opportunity to get wasted on cheap beer, top up your tan and have one last smile before leaving the country.
We had no plan for Sri Lanka when we arrived, just idea’s of what we wanted to do or what we might do. As I sit now writing this in the Rodeo club on the beach strip (Thanks Terri) I really don’t have further than tomorrow planned.
After some convincing we are going to take the 11am bus tomorrow to Kandy (3hrs) which is pretty much the centre of Sri Lanka. From there we take another bus about 2hrs North to Sirigiya where we will scale some rock that is supposedly the premier attraction in Sri Lanka. From there – Who knows. We are just going to go with the flow, which is flowing extremely slowly and make the most of the time we have in this island of wonder and paradise.