My first arrival at Sri Lanka was fine. The airport was ok, and I got my luggage in good time. No one hassled me at immigration. It was indeed a pretty good start.
What to expect:
- Relatively clean airport with air-conditioning.
- Lots of disoriented brown people.
- 80's looking duty free area, selling lots of 80's electrical appliances.
- Relatively hassle free immigration.
- Small area to get luggage. (very small airport)
Day 1: (Colombo / Dehiwala)
My first beach encounter was at Dehiwala. Dehiwala is a suburb of Colombo situated between Ratmalana and Wellawatte along the Galle Road. The roads around Dehiwala are quite nice, occassionally chaotic, you can get around on three wheeler, and there are a few good places to eat to eat.
Point to note:
When you get on a three wheeler, they will charge you a higher price because of the color of your skin and how you speak. Ask for the price before boarding to avoid getting cheated. If you are familiar with the location of the destination, for short distance less than 3 miles away, you should pay less than Rs$200. Even for a distance like from Dehiwala to Colombo, it should only cost Rs$350.
For further locations, it will definitely be cheaper by a cab (taxi).
Lunch and dinner spots: (Recommended)
The Cricket Club - Great burgers, good price. (English Pub food) - $$ (Burger and Beer for US$10)
Address: 34 Queens Rd. Colombo, Sri Lanka
(Had a great burger and Lion beer for about US$10. Great taste, great price)
Bay Leaf Restaurant - Authentic Italian Food. (Italian Food) - $$$$ (Pasta and Beer for US$25)
Address: 79 Gregorys Road | Colombo 7, Colombo, Sri Lanka
(I customized my order to have Aglio Olio with Fried Calamari in Salsa on top, and they did it Al Dente. Food is good but a little pricey. Had wine as well and bill exceeded US$80)
BAREFOOT Cafe - Cafe food, GREAT AMBIANCE
Address: 706 Galle Road, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka
(Food is good, and you get to buy things made by villagers using traditionally eco-friendly methods. Great book shop there too!)
Other things to try:
Kothu Roti is very good with cheese and fried chicken bits.
Elephants at Pinnawela elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka
Boy does Sri Lanka need highways. The distance to the Elephant Orphanage is about 90 - 100km, and yet it took us 3 hours to get there. All the roads were 2 lane roads and lots of pedestrians, cyclists and slow vehicles everywhere.
If you have seen elephants, you have seen them all. Though it is one of the places where many people think its a must see, I would say, it is not worth it. Locals go there and pay Rs$50 and Tourists pay Rs$1250. And for what?? Stinking elephants?
There are a few elephants, baby elephants chained up so that tourists can feed them. Then you get to see and feed a few more elephants standing around, and the trainer can bring them close to you for a photo opportunity. And of course you have to tip them. you can buy bananas to feed the elephants and over priced shirts. It is a Tourist Trap. nothing interesting, not worth the money.
Video of a three wheel ride in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Next: Geragama Tea Estate
The roads towards Kandy and Pilimatalawa have great scenes and mountains in the distance. Definitely a scenic route. You can stop midway to buy fruits at the local stores along the roads. The fruits are not really cheap, but pretty fresh and good.
Point of Note:
DO NOT TRY THE LOCAL SWEET CORN. IT IS THE WORST CORN IN MY LIFE. IT IS NOT SWEET. IT TASTES LIKE CARDBOARD!
Geragama Tea Estate - Pussellawa Plantations Ltd, Pilimatalawa.
This is a very small tea estate, but they allow a free tour of the estate, showing you the process of how the tea is processed from picking to packing.
The tour was very informational and you get to try out their tea for free as well. Its great tea, and you can purchase it later at the store.
The environment is very cool and relaxing, you can see the plantation and the workers at work picking leaves too!
Next Blog: Kandy!