A new assignment

Trip Start Aug 08, 2009
Trip End Dec 18, 2009

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Where I stayed
Slave Island

Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Thursday, August 13, 2009

We arrive in Colombo at 1am on a Sunday morning. The heat and humidity smother us; the air smells of warm rubber.  I'm confused. I feel like I should be on holiday but Simon’s at home and I’m here with business associates, most of whom I have never met.

I wake up later in the day at our hotel and stagger around my apartment.  We are 4 hours ahead of the UK.  How can that be?  I thought time zones moved in hours, not 30 minute intervals.  Anyway, those homeopathic 'No Jet Lag’ tablets are truly working overtime, helping me sleep, keeping me awake and then putting me back to sleep again.  Wow, they are so clever.   

Our client is very security conscious, which we should be grateful for, given that a serious civil conflict has just been concluded here in Sri Lanka.  However the security procedures are time consuming and onerous.  It’s not the tedium of the procedures, but the lack of air conditioning that we have to endure during the process.  By the time we reach our air conditioned office we are all of us sweaty, uncomfortable and distinctly unsociable.  This is the second time in my life that I’ve been grateful for air conditioning.

The ‘glamour’ of the assignment is diminishing rather rapidly and is further worn away by the loos in the office: one Western style and one Asian style loo, neither with any paper and no soap at the hand-basins.  So we all troop backwards and forward with our own supplies to meet our own requirements.  It’s not that the toilets are dirty – absolutely not  – the cleaner is frequently mopping the floor and cleaning all the touchable surfaces.  It’s just that the approach to maintaining hygene is different.  The floor is swamped with water - and it is water – so we paddle around the ladies loo not allowing our leather soled shoes to sit in the puddles for more than a few minutes.

Exactly one week after our arrival, three of us take a tuc-tuc and drive to Mount Lavinia, a coastal resort only 30 minutes away.  The journey is something of a squash in the tiny three wheeler and the traffic leaves us flinching on occasion as we narrowly miss lorries and pedestrians or they miss us.  The tuc-tucs are small enough to create a third or fourth lane out of a dotted white line and the drivers think they’re on motorbikes anyway, zig-zagging in and out of the lines of larger, less flexible vehicles.

At Mount Lavinia, we can see that the South West monsoon is making the sea wild; it looks more like the Pacific than the Indian Ocean.  We are standing looking at the foaming waves crashing on the coarse yellow sand and suddenly a wave rushes at us, taking us all by surprise and we are soaked.  I am more soaked than the others as the wave knocks me over and I end up sitting in the water.  The rest of the day is spent rather soggily, our wet clothes flapping around us in the wind – at least this means they dry off quite quickly. We trudge along the public beach, watching the local people enjoying their day off – bathing in the shallows, fully clothed - and buying snacks from the beach vendors, cooking corn on the cob and fish on their barbecues. 

More on our adventures next week.
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gostlina on

Re: Have you heard of crocs?
Hi Julia - well I have heard of them but don't own a pair - never having had the necessity. Just one slight problem though would be finding some that work with my 'professional business dress'. Tricky. I'll keep thinking about it.

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