Oct 1st marks 1 month living in Sri Lanka. We’ve moved around a lot and now I am looking forward to staying in the same place for a while. Re packing your bags every 3 days gets really old after a while!
Here are the things I have learnt in the past month:
1. Just because it’s on the menu, it doesn’t mean it will be available! When choosing a meal, make sure your pick at least three options because I guarantee two of them won’t be available.
2. A car horn here is used for many things besides telling someone to get out of the way. Eg - The “Thanks for letting me pass” horn, the “I am behind you and about to overtake you” horn. Traffic in Sri Lanka may look chaotic, but no one is in a hurry really. And drivers are totally more courteous than Australia. It seems as if we are in such a rush on the roads. We can learn a lot from the Sri Lankan way of driving. No kidding!
3. Coconut water is truly liquid gold. In a country where the temperature rarely drops below 30 degrees, coconuts keep you hydrated and fill you up too. At 80c a coconut, it’s a bargain too!
4. Wherever you go in Sri Lanka, you will pass wide open fields with kids, adults playing the nation’s favourite past time - Cricket. Early morning at 6am, late in the evening at sunset, whenever, there are sixes being hit, controversial lbw decisions called and wickets being taken. Do yourself a favour and just watch a a few partnerships. Sri Lankans love nothing better than to gather a few friends together and finish the day with an innings or two.
5. Even tuk tuk drivers don’t know where everything is. Colombo is a big city and you can’t blame drivers not knowing every street here. It’s handy to get a Sri Lankan sim card for your phone, just so you have maps and can tell your driver where to go. Remember there are no GPS’ in tuk tuks, and when $5 can get you a months worth of phone data, who wouldn’t take advantage. Just think about what you pay back home per month for your phone.
6. Eating with your hands in a kade is one of the most authentic Sri Lankan experiences you can do. A kade is a small Sri Lankan restaurant serving traditional rice and curry amounts other things. Don’t expect 5 star treatment, 5 star cleanliness or to even get what you ordered, but thats the fun of it! There are wash basins in the main seating areas so wash up before your meal.
7. If you can, hire / buy a bike and ride ride ride. Out of all my travelling, this is the best way to get around any city. It’s the perfect pace for discovering hidden city gems, but also great for that long distance that is just too far to walk in the Sri Lankan heat.
8. Embrace it all - the good, but especially the bad. Nothing is always going to turn out perfectly when travelling. Getting lost, awkward moments with locals, sickness, getting charged “tourist prices”. This is all part of the travel game, most of the time. 99% of the time, it’s not the end of the world and let’s face it, the tougher moments make for the best stories too!
9. Pack a LOT of sunscreen. It’s not the easiest thing to find here and when you do find it, it’s astronomically expensive. Feel free to mail me some.
10. Try stay in at least one Sri Lankan family home during your trip. Airbnb is the easiest site to book and stay in the homes of locals. Hotels are fun, but they tend not to be in neighbourhoods and you really can just get sucked into not even leaving because everything is just so easily accessible. Get a sense of how local people live their lives. This is probably the best thing you can do in any country you visit. If we truly knew what it would be like to walk in someone else’s shoes, we would all be a whole lot richer.
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