Good Night, Sri Lanka

Good Night, Sri Lanka

From the taxi’s windows, we watched the Colombo night blur by. The few cars which remained on the highway had none of the breakneck urgency which normally characterizes Sri Lankan traffic. And though the unbroken chain of shops and restaurants still had their neon lights blazing, there weren’t many people on the sidewalks. It was 10pm, and we’d rarely seen the island in a deeper state of rest. We were headed to the airport, and putting Colombo to sleep.

Goodbye Sri Lanka

Upon arriving three months ago, we had driven into a Colombo that was just waking up. It was 7am, and kids dressed in white uniforms were reluctantly making their way to school, shopkeepers were rolling up their metal gates, and tuk-tuk drivers were already engaged with buses in their never-ending battle for dominance of the road. We had arrived in Sri Lanka with the start of a busy new day, and it seemed appropriate to be saying goodbye as another one drew to a close.

Just as every day here is bursting at the seams with commerce and activity, our whirlwind tour through Sri Lanka couldn’t have been any more action-packed or intense. From the first moments of our arrival, when we dove into the capital city and its disparate neighborhoods, through the final languorous, rainy week in Galle, we explored the island as thoroughly as possible.

You can’t do justice to an entire country in just three months, but it was fun to try. We met some wonderful people, learned how to head-bobble, ate rice and curry with our hands in dingy dives, held cobras, hugged elephants, played with monkeys, explored ancient forest monasteries, taught ourselves some Sinhala, read up on legends and then visited the very places they played out. We ventured into mosques, temples and kovils, chewed betel, drank coconuts and played cricket. And that’s just a fraction of our Ceylonese adventures!

I’ll confess that by the time our departure date rolled around, we were ready to leave. Jumping around a country for three months, living out of hotels and guesthouses, eating out every night… it’s tiring. And there are aspects of Sri Lankan life we’re happy to put behind us, as well. The constant annoyance of touts and scammers. The unbearable pro-government propaganda of the media. The discriminatory tourist prices at parks and attractions. The corruption which permeates every level of society. The surprisingly durable tinge of colonialism, making you cringe a little every time your driver rushes to open the door for you, or calls you “sir”.

But when we look back on our time in Sri Lanka, I seriously doubt that something like the entrance price to Sigiriya will sour the amazing experience we had on the rock itself. Dealing with the touts at Pinnawela will be soon be forgotten, but I’ll always remember watching a hundred elephants bathe. And, yes, some of the bus rides were unbelievably hellish. But I would endure them again, in order to visit places like Jaffna and Trinco.

So, another 91 days has drawn to a close. Next, we’re off to Busan: South Korea’s second biggest city and a metropolis of over three million. Make sure to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with our move until we get the new version of the site launched. Busan is going to offer a massively different experience… and will have to be something truly special to impress us half as much as Sri Lanka did.

-Download our Sri Lanka Travel Guide

Good Night, Sri Lanka From the taxi's windows, we watched the Colombo night blur by. The few cars which remained on the highway had none of the breakneck urgency which normally characterizes Sri Lankan traffic. And though the unbroken chain of shops and restaurants still had their neon lights blazing, there weren't many people on the sidewalks. It was 10pm, and we'd rarely seen the island in a deeper state of rest. We were headed to the airport, and putting Colombo to sleep.
For 91 Days

9 Comments

  • Dre

    Hi Guys, I really enjoyed your tour around Sri Lanka through your travel blog. Both of your writing style and the beautiful photography took your journals to little higher than other blogs. I read all of your Sri Lankan travels and enjoyed them very much. Gained a lot of new information and stories which we even didn’t know. And to see the places and to be able to review the Sri Lankan history, culture, people and places through two great outsiders’ eyes are priceless. Both your positive and negative views of this country is very informative and constructive. Have a safe journey and enjoy your next 3 months in Busan. You can count on me to read all your adventures. Thanks a lot and please do come again. Good Bye….! Cheers..!!!

    May 3, 2012 at 12:19 pm
    • Mike Powell

      Thanks so much! We’re glad you enjoyed our adventures through Sri Lanka. We had an incredible time there, and I don’t think we’ll ever forget it. We’re glad you found our site. You have an amazing country… I hope we get back one day soon.

      May 5, 2012 at 12:44 pm
  • Sohan

    Hi, I am a Sri Lankan, and I always enjoy reading foreigners’ perspectives of our country (like many of our countrymen and women as you mentioned somewhere). I read most of your posts, and found most of your writing well informed, and your comments very accurate. (I must note that whatever their faults maybe, buddhist monks did not cause the war to happen, and the causes were far more complex and rooted in politics and post colonial ethnic relations. Also I should note that Colombo is a city with a population of about 1 million, rather than the 5 million you mention, which is the population of the western province of which the city is the capital. Other than those few inaccuracies, your posts are very well informed and researched) I should restate than I am thankful for your lovely, insightful writing, and as you have commented once in your blog, in the true Sri Lankan style, very appreciative of a foreigner who says nice things about our country. I have been to the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, China, India and Singapore and after seeing all these places I always think we must be among the the more lucky people in the world; to have been born in a beautiful country, with good weather all year around, with free health care and free education, with friendly people and now the war is at an end undergoing rapid development. (and even during the war doing all these inspite of it) Of course the negatives you mention, such as the insane driving is  crazy. Though me being a local I do not get bothered by touts and traders like you guys were. It is sad and it must be awfully fatiguing, but then I do not know whether there would be a solution for it.Yes, the tourists are being fleeced to see the sights, and it does sound unfair. But do remember that  european empires that ruled our country did some unforgiving fleecing of the country as well. I do not think it is fair that you guys should pay back for that, but this is after all a relatively poor country. I do sincerely hope you guys come back and enjoy our country again and the next time you come it will be in much better shape after recovering from the war.

    June 10, 2012 at 3:56 pm
    • Mike Powell

      Thanks for the comments, Sohan. We’re glad that you enjoyed our articles about Sri Lanka… you’re right, you have a beautiful country! 

      June 11, 2012 at 12:46 am
  • Magnus

    Hello from Sweden! I have now read all of your Sri Lanka stories, and would like to thank you guys for a fantastic report of the country. Me and my family are going to SL later this year, and reading your blog have given us much more knowledge than we had before about what to do and not do. Hope you’re having a good time on your future travels. =)

    April 10, 2013 at 2:48 pm
    • Mike Powell

      We hope you guys have a great time! Sri Lanka is really a fantastic country, and I’m glad our experiences have been able to help out with your planning.

      April 12, 2013 at 6:27 am
  • Benito

    We are off to Sri Lanka in a few weeks and your site has been a huge help and inspiration…thanks!

    May 14, 2013 at 11:44 am
  • Richard S

    My big complaint about your blog is that I didn’t find it two months ago, when we started planning for an upcoming trip to Sri Lanka!  
     
    The blog is not only practicably helpful and insightful, but LOL hilarious.  It angers me to face the fact that I cannot write that well.
     
    I see that your blog is available for download, which is awesome.  I have no doubt it will be a useful and entertaining supplementary guide for our trip.
     
    Your new ardent fan,
     
    – Richard
     
     

    September 5, 2013 at 4:34 pm
  • Nishadi

    Hello,I’m a sri lankan. it seems, that you guys have gotten the best tourist experience in Sri Lanka, cos you behaved like a local. i’m agree with you, regarding those high entrance prizes and so. Most times i felt sorry about tourists with those unfair prizes. Your writing style is very attractive , simple & sweet.I wish you all the best & safe , enjoyable journeys always..But remember you never find a PARADISE like My mother Lanka! I’m proud to be a Sri Lankan.Thanks & cheers,Nishadi.

    May 26, 2015 at 10:22 am
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