Arrival in Sri Lanka

Posted by ross

May 12, 2010


We arrived at the Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) near Negombo at 0845. Sleepy smile The Customs check was surprisingly smooth and painless since there weren’t that many passengers and we quickly proceeded to the baggage area. After picking up our baggage, the first item on our list was to buy some Sri Lankan rupees (Rs.) and then pickup a local SIM card for our mobile. This was no problem at all. In the lobby area are money exchange outlets, car and driver services and several mobile phone operators.  We decided to buy a pay-as-you-go SIM card from Dialog GSM for about Rs. 1,000, because Dialog has the best network coverage on the island and there are plenty of outlets in every town.

We had already made a reservation to stay at the Sharon Inn in Kandy and they had arranged for a driver to meet us at the airport. Auto He was waiting among about 20 other drivers at the entrance. He had a sign with our name on it, but before we could reach him, we literally had to push our way through the other drivers who wanted to offer us their services.  Since this was our first trip to Sri Lanka and we were both feeling tired from the flight, we were glad we had arranged for a driver.   Smile

After a quick introduction, he left to get the car and we waited outside with our baggage. Even though it was only 09:30 in the morning the heat and humidity were stifling, after having been, for the most part since our arrival, in an air conditioned environment. When we left Germany the day before, the temperature had been a cool 12C and now we were in 34C weather, and although it was a relative clear day the humidity must have been around 70% . That really requires the body to go through some big adjustment. Confused smile

The drive to Kandy was our first experience with the Sri Lankan driving etiquette.  Although our driver was good, we had read from more than a few sources that the traffic in Sri Lanka can be very challenging and even life threatening. Many of the other drivers on the highway, for the most part, lived up to our worst expectations. The bus drivers are by far the worst offenders, regardless of whether they drive the red government or white private buses. The Tuc-Tuc drivers are also very erratic but because of there relative small size they tend to avoid a direct confrontation.

After driving for several hours we needed a break, so we stopped at one of the many fruit stands that are often found on the road sides in Sri Lanka.  Christel had been dreaming of eating fresh and sweet mango. The driver asked one of the men from stand to find her a nice ripe one. One man picked a suitable one and then cut it open so Christel could eat it with her fingers. Who me?Open-mouthed smileAfterwards the driver ordered us three fresh King Coconuts (locally called Thambili), which are large and range in color from green to dark yellow and are full of coconut juice.  It is the custom to take a knife, that resembles a machete, chop the top off and give it to you to drink.  With foreigners, they normally offer you a straw but the locals just drink the juice directly from the coconut. After the juice is gone then the vendor will cut the coconut in half and you can eat the tender creamy tasting meat from the inside, using the sharp edge of the top which had been chopped off.   What a refreshing treat and great thirst quencher. The juice is naturally sterile and has a large number of health benefits. That had been high on our list of must does, and we were not disappointed.     

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