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After One Month in Sri Lanka

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Our first month in Sri Lanka is already done?! It seems just yesterday that we were taking our first tuk tuk ride through Colombo’s busy streets. But when I think about all the things we’ve seen and done, it’s amazing that we’ve only been here a month. Sri Lanka is the kind of place where amazing experiences come fast and furious. Here are our impressions of life in Sri Lanka, after one month.

Most Memorable

Mike: The baby elephant approached and then held its trunk towards me. He squeezed my hand, then pulled me close to his body, apparently wanting a hug. I was happy to comply, and it’s a moment I’ll never forget.

Jürgen: Waking up the first morning in Kandy and our house being surrounded by over 30 monkeys. I was in heaven.
Favorite Food

Mike: Sri Lanka so far hasn’t offered a lot of culinary variety, but I don’t ever see myself getting sick of kottu: a piece of roti bread, chopped up and mixed together with spices, vegetables, egg and meat. Best eaten with the hand, of course!

Jürgen: I also would say kottu but you can’t beat the fresh juice of a king coconut. Delicious, and better than any energy drink. And you can eat the coconut flesh, afterwards.
Most Surprising

Mike: I had read that only 10% of the population here speaks English, so imagine my surprise (and relief) to discover that the number is much, much higher. It may not always be fluent, but the great majority of people we’ve met speak enough to carry on a conversation.

Jürgen: How friendly people are here, and how much attention I draw. At times I feel like a superstar. People are genuinely curious and they always want to know where you’re from, and where you’re going.
Most Disappointing

Mike: The unending touts. You can’t go two minutes without some other schemer trying to trick you out of your money. It’s all very easy to see through, so it’s not like we’re in constant danger of being fooled, but their tenacity and frequency are unbearable. And it makes you sometimes react with frustration towards normal Sri Lankans who perhaps really do just want to chat.

Jürgen: Sri Lanka’s touristic offerings are really not geared toward the solo traveler. The whole infrastructure is set up to wring money out of giant tour groups on buses. We’d love for our site to help change that!
Funniest / Weirdest

Mike: Everyone we walk past has a comment. Usually, it’s just “Bye!” (which they often use in place of “Hello”), or “Buddy!”, but sometimes the comments are stranger. “Money!” is a favorite among kids (who’ve learned from their government what foreigners are good for). “Can have you phone number?” I was asked the other day, completely randomly, by two girls. And of course, the constant “What is your country?” I’ve been getting progressively more surreal. “Denmark”, “Brazil” and “Japan” are just some of the places I’ve claimed to hail from. (The worrying thing is that these answers are always accepted without question).

Jürgen: This tout in Kandy, he calls himself The Professor. He’s got about three teeth. We walked past him every day, but he always forgot our faces and tried the same scheme over and over. “Today, there’s a special Kandyan Dance! Come with me, I get you seats!” Still, I kind of miss him and wonder how he’s doing.
How Expensive? From 1 (cheap) to 10 (expensive)

Mike: Impossible to judge with one number. 3 for normal life — eating like locals do, taking the bus, all very cheap. But 8 for anything tourism-related — shockingly expensive parks and inflated fees for foreigners; expensive restaurants marketed towards westerners, etc. Advice: live like a local! I guess it averages to a “5”.

Jürgen: I’m shocked how expensive the attractions are for foreigners. These are making a huge dent in our budget for Sri Lanka. Accommodation is over the top as well. But everything else is very cheap. So I give it a 6.
People from Sri Lanka are…

Mike: … always up for a chat. Very open, and willing to have their photos taken. And everyone always seems to have a smile on their face.

Jürgen: … friendly, happy, helpful and curious.
Sri Lanka in Three Words

Mike: Monkeys, Elephants, Cobras

Jürgen: Adventurous, Surprising, Buddhist

Our opinions of Sri Lanka would evolve over the next couple months. We became more comfortable with the heat and local way of life, but also more frustrated with the pushy behavior of touts, and wearied by the food. But one thing remained certain throughout: these three months were among the most exciting of our lives!

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March 3, 2012 at 10:59 am Comments (5)
After One Month in Sri Lanka Our first month in Sri Lanka is already done?! It seems just yesterday that we were taking our first tuk tuk ride through Colombo's busy streets. But when I think about all the things we've seen and done, it's amazing that we've only been here a month. Sri Lanka is the kind of place where amazing experiences come fast and furious. Here are our impressions of life in Sri Lanka, after one month.
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