After 7 weeks of work with only one day off, it was finally time for my first trip of the new school year.
I had decided to visit Sri Lanka (only an hour and a half flight from Bangalore) to visit a collegue from TISB who had moved there at the beginning of this year. Getting out of India was harder than expected though, mainly because myself and my friend had forgotten our Resident Permits which are required to get back into the country (despite having employment visas in our passports.) This caused a problem at check-in and then again at passport control. Finally on the plane we realised that we had also forgotten to bring the contact details of our friend in Sri Lanka but didn’t worry too much because we would be able to get wifi at Colombo airport after we landed. It took us an hour to get through immigration and collect our bags before we were outside and ready to make contact. By the way, for anyone travelling through Columbo airport – they don’t have wifi!!
Whilst fending off well meaning taxi drivers a very kind lady asked if we were alright – we decided to take a chance and asked if she had a smart phone we could borrow, suprisingly she said yes to both! Now we knew his number and that we were to meet at a McDonalds near to his house. Unfortunately neither of us had a phone that worked outside of India but we jumped into the nearest taxi anyway and set off. The driver lent us his phone and we made the call, unfortunately there was no answer. During the hour’s drive we called 7 or 8 times all with no reply. At the McDonalds we sat down to enjoy an actual McDonalds BEEFburger and asked the manager if we could use a phone and finally made contact. Twenty minutes later (and ten minutes after they had closed but allowed us to stay inside and wait) Jon arrived in a tuktuk to collect us. We fell into bed that night ready to start exploring Colombo in the morning.
The next morning we took a tuktuk to a market that had recently been developed and was next to an area of parkland which was a very popular area to walk around.
From there we went to a local Buddhist temple. It was a truely peaceful place despite the number of people. We walked around the open area before going into the temple proper where a monk called us to one side and gave a blessing whilst tying a prayer string around our wrists. Afterwards we went outside to light a lamp and were met by a wall of flame. The small clay pots, which had a wick placed in them and were filled with coconut oil were arranged on metal racks and there must have been hundreds of them.
Having left the temple we took another tuktuk into the business centre of Columbo and too a walk along the sea front. We decided to stop at the Gall Face Hotel, one of the colonial hotel in Sri Lanka, for a quick drink.
After lunch, at a local restaurant, consisting of rice and curry (but in reality a lot more than it sounds) we made our way back home to enjoy a few drinks on the balcony before dinner and a few more after dinner. The view from the balcony was amazing – coconut trees and parrots within throwing distance.
The next morning we went out for breakfast and had a traditional Sri Lankan breakfast of string hoppers (a kind of rice noodle pancake) and chickpea curry. After breakfast we went to the temple where Jon had married his wife. It was a smaller temple than yesterday’s but equally beautiful and peaceful.
On a side note: when we returned to India, neither of us were asked to show our Resident Permits, the cause of so much trouble on the way out of the country!!