Colombo - Sri Lanka's Capital

Trip Start Nov 29, 2013
Trip End Jun 11, 2014

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Saturday, March 29, 2014

My last day in Sri Lanka involved numerous short stops on the way from Unawatuna to the airport at Negombo. Our route followed the west coast northwards with stops at two monuments to the victims of the 2004 tsunami, including one where a train was derailed by the waves with over 1,000 onboard killed.

 The next stop was at a mangrove estuary for a boat ride on a brackish lake and waterways for bird watching, observing traditional ways of catching shrimp, and a stop at an island for cinnamon harvesting and processing demonstrations. Oh, and then there was the option to get a fish foot massage, which involved dipping your feet into pools filled with koi-like fish that nibble the dried skin from your feet in what’s called a massage. I declined.

 Next was a sea turtle hatchery where eggs are brought after endangered sea turtles lay them on the beach to keep them from being harvested by humans for food or eaten by birds or stray dogs. The eggs are incubated in the soil and the hatched baby turtles are raised for a short time before being released to help raise the survival rate of the various sea turtle species.We made a few short stops on the outskirts of Colombo, including the country’s new parliament building. Apparently Sri Lanka has moved the capital to the outskirts of Colombo from the commercial center of the city.
I was somewhat disappointed our tour only drove through Colombo’s historic
center with a few notable sights pointed out without a stop. I should have used
one of the two days when I first arrived in the country to take a daytrip from
Negombo to explore the city on my own.

My time in Sri Lanka ended with our minibus dropping off the three of us who were continuing on to the Maldives as part of a combined tour at the airport for an early evening flight to Male. The other nine passengers only on the Sri Lanka trip had another night in Negombo before their trip ended. I got a snicker out of all the women standing in the check-in line that said “Male”. “Carrie, you’re in the wrong line. Look, it says Male,” I told my fellow passenger. She didn’t find the humor in it.

 Overall I really liked Sri Lanka but have some mixed feelings about my tour experience there. It was the first time I’ve traveled as a passenger on a more traditional package group tour. Most of my travel has either been independent or on Dragoman overland truck trips as I did in India and will through Tibet. The level of comfort was much higher with Explore with nicer hotels and an air conditioned minibus to take us everywhere. Oh, and there were no truck jobs that seem to make up such a significant part of participatory camping overland trips. On the other hand, though, I didn’t feel like I had as rich a travel experience in terms of finding my  way around by myself or interacting with local people as I do in independent or overland
truck travel.
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