Justins World

So Long Ceylon

My last day in Sri Lanka was mostly a day of travel and negotiation.  I caught the 10:55 express train from Galle to Colombo.  My ticket set me back 180 rupees for second class (no first class on this train). It cost me 200 rupees for the Tuk Tuk to take me to the train station, 5 minutes from my guesthouse!

After a bit of push and shove I managed to get a seat in the aisle facing backwards.  I was at least on the coastal side of the train.  The tracks were heavily damaged by the Tsunami in 2004 and not surprisingly when at time the ocean was mere metres away outside.  I arrived in Colombo Fort station bang on 13:15 which was the scheduled arrival time.  Getting off the train was a challenge as people getting on board only cared about getting a seat as bags were deposited through open windows literally “bagging” the seat, while people pushed on as others tried to get off.  I managed to get off the train and then let the hoard of people swarm up the stairs and off the platform before deciding to go up the stairs and across the platform and leave the station.



Within a second I had an offer of a taxi.  The price of 4500 rupees seemed high as I got a taxi from the airport to Colombo for 3000 rupees and that was as a captive market at the airport.  Anyway the driver said my guesthouse was further than the airport (which it was, but not that much further), so rather than argue I just hopped in.  As we got closer to Negombo, the driver tried to argue my guesthouse was at Negombo beach and not Negombo.  I think he wanted more money, but I said we agreed on price and he didn’t ask for the address (not that it would have helped him).

Like just about every other taxi I’ve caught in Sri Lanka, he called for directions but I ended up using my GPS to direct and found the place fairly easily.  I made a mistake in not booking aircon, but thankfully my room had aircon and was another 800 rupees, so I upgraded as it was bloody hot and the mosquitos were also the size of a chihuahua.

There is not much to see in Negombo, basically people stay here for a night when they arrive, or a night when they depart from Sri Lanka.  I think though with the late night arrivals, its almost better to go to Colombo as thats when there is no traffic, unless of course you have a car and driver for you whole trip.

Arriving back at the airport reminded of how weird this place is. Is there another airport in the world that has washing machines and fridges available at Duty Free? I imagine only for arriving passengers and based on conversations import duties/taxes are very high in Sri Lanka so buying whitegoods duty free probably makes sense. I won’t be surprised if one will be able to buy a car duty free from here one day.

So my summary of Sri Lanka is its an interesting place to visit.  Its not the easiest of places to travel in and the lack of infrastructure reminds me of Cuba.  Theres not really any tourist infrastructure, I didn’t see any of the typical travel agencies offering trips, that you find in other parts of the world.  However it all exists outside of Sri Lanka for people who like booking bus tours.  However, ask a tuk tuk or taxi driver and anything is possible.  When you got a good meal here, you were in heaven, when you got a bad one you regretted the bad restaurant choice.  Fortunately, there were no meals that required me spending a day on the toilet either.  Thanks for reading about my adventures in Sri Lanka!

3 thoughts on “So Long Ceylon

  1. Noel Kemp

    You wouldn’t want to get a railway line much closer to the sea than that! I liked the comparison of the train ticket and the tuk tuk – that is so often the case! Back to the grindstone soon?

    1. justin Post author

      Yes back to the grind. The rail network in Sri Lanka is great, shame it didn’t go everywhere. I was amused to see a train station 200m from the airport that was not in use either!

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