Looking for a break from the traffic and buzz of Bangalore, I decided to go to the island of Sri Lanka for some much needed R&R. What started out as a “Do-Nothing” beach holiday turned into something more eventful. Sticking to my theme of this year’s “¿Por que no?” it was a weekend of… well… fun. You’re only in your twenties once right?
First Stop: Chennai
It was Diwali in Bangalore and finding a taxi at 9.30pm to take me to the nearby bus stand was proving to be a failure. Eventually I hailed a tuk-tuk and after being charged double of what it would normally cost to get to the station, I got to the bus stand just in time. The whole city was celebrating the festival of lights and they were doing so with fireworks… LOTS of fireworks. As I sat waiting to board the bus, a stray rocket landed not more than 3 meters from where I was sitting and I wondered how many people actually get injured during this festival. I was definitely looking forward to my quiet time in Sri Lanka.
I arrived on a rainy Chennai morning at their Mofussil Central Bus Stand. Even at 5.30am, the place was packed. Dodging sleeping people, trash and dogs on the floor I made my way towards the ticket counter which provided me with no help. Finally after getting no information on which bus goes to the airport, luck would have it that there was a couple who was also on route to Sri Lanka and we decided to split the cab.
Hello Sri Lanka!
I arrived in Sri Lanka at noon after just an hour on the plane. I was expecting it to be similar to India – well, the traffic part at least but what I experienced was totally the opposite. The streets were clean, quiet, cars stayed in their lanes and there was NO HOOTING! It was a welcome surprise and driving through Colombo, I could see the many Buddhist influences there with the domed stupas and signs that read “Loving Kindness” and “Prisoners are human beings too.” The architecture was also quite distinct from that of India. It resembled more of those found on the temples in Burma and other South East Asian countries where Buddhism is the main religion.
There are frequent buses from Bandaranaike Airport to Colombo and the journey takes about an hour. I was on a shuttle bus with three Chinese tourists and upon reaching the main bus stand, it turns out they hadn’t changed their USD into Sri Lankan Rupees and were negotiating with the fare collector to accept their one Dollar bills… Apparently they didn’t want to draw money at the airport ATM because they didn’t want to pay the charges but seriously, how they thought they were going to get around I don’t know. Now they were going to end up not paying the guy so eventually I changed their USD with my Sri Lankan Rupees and I was on my way on yet another bus to Hikkaduwa.
Three hours later, I arrived at Time and Tide Beach Resort. Well, it sounds fancy but it’s more like a small sea side motel. Even with the fan on full blast and a cold shower, it was still quite warm.
I spent the next day taking a walk along the beach and having the occasional dip in the sea. Compared to Goa, the beach here was quiet and less touristy but there was a fair share of surfers around too. It’s small enough that you keep bumping into the same people on a regular basis and that’s when I bumped into three Israeli surfers, Uzzi, Avi and Rotm who were here on a surfing holiday.
After exchanging nods and smiles during the day, I bumped into them yet again later that night at the Time and Tide restaurant. Turns out they lived just a few beach huts away and were looking for a place to watch the FC Barcelona game that night and seeing that I was there by myself, they suggested I joined them at the local Sam’s bar and so I thought… “por que no?!” The evening gave way to an early morning walk along the beach back to my resort… Who said traveling alone would be a bore?