Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Sunday, October 5, 2008

Come 10:30pm I was onboard the Air Arabia jet and settling in for my second night flight in as many days, and I wasn't really looking forward to it. From the moment we stepped onboard it was chaos! The vast majority of the passengers obviously hadn't flown very often, if at all, and didn't have a clue what they were doing. Over half the people were sitting in the wrong seats and the stewardesses had to spend 20 minutes sorting them out. There was also hardly any space in the overhead compartments as they had all gone crazy in duty free. Luckily I had checked in my bag and so had nothing to carry onboard.
The flight to Colombo took 4.5 hours so the chance of a good sleep was minimal. This was only made worse by the person in front of me who spent the first hour taking pictures with his mobile and subjecting the whole plane to his music collection. I think I managed to get about 30 minutes sleep in total and was completely shattered by the time we arrived.
Getting through passport control took an age. For some reason the people in front of me in the queue always seem to take over 5 minutes each getting stamped in. I was hanging around for over 20 minutes in the small queue waiting for my turn and I was stamped in with no questions within 30 seconds! Bags collected we walked through into arrivals, withdrew money and stepped outside into the 5am darkness to look for a bus.
The area outside the airport was very confusing and we strolled up and down the path looking for a bus for over 45 minutes. It seemed as though there weren't any, and we were knackered, so we succumbed and hired a taxi to take us to the nearest big town, Negombo, for a rip off fee. 10 minutes later we were at the bus stop and boarded a local bus, for one tenth of the price we paid for the taxi, bound for Kandy.
My first impressions of local transport in Sri Lanka were similar to Central America, cramped and crowded. Leg room was non-existent, especially with my backpack between my legs, and 3 people on a seat large enough for 2. Masses of people crammed down the aisle and local music pumping from the numerous speakers. It was my kind of travelling! Thankfully Sri Lanka is a small place so most journeys are only 100km's ish. However, the roads are bad and the stops frequent so it took the best part of 3 hours to crawl into Kandy. The price for 3 hours of torture? 120rps (0.63)!
By the time I arrived in Kandy I was absolutely shattered so decided it was best to take a tuk-tuk to the guesthouse area. The bus stop was in the middle of nowhere in the commercial part of town and we didn't want to be anywhere near there. Most of the guesthouses are clustered around a small area south of the lake, up a steep hill. We settled on the first one we looked at and proceeded to die for 4 hours!!
Feeling refreshed we headed out to see a few sights around Kandy in what turned out to be our only day in town. After a short amble around the lake we ended up at the Temple of the Tooth. We were a little early as the actual tooth shrine is only open a few times a day so we took our time walking around the temple. We seemed to pickup a guide along the way, even though we didn't ask for one, and he was well informed on the subject and filled us in with loads of information. We gave him a small tip after he had showed us round. Another guide took us to a small Hindu shrine opposite and after a very rushed 2 minute tour he tried to get us to sign a book and donate 2000 rps (10)! We walked off and left nothing.
The bands soon started up and we filed our way into the temple to join the queue. There were hundreds of people crowded round praying and it felt a little wrong to be there. We shuffled past, catching a 5 second fleeting glimpse of the shrine and made our way outside.
With the plan to catch an early morning bus we decided to head back to the hostel for dinner. There isn't really much choice when it comes to restaurants in Sri Lanka so most guesthouses arrange your meals. It also takes hours to prepare a curry so we had pre arrange dinner after eating lunch! The curry was superb and hopefully a good representation of the food we could expect throughout our time here.
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