unallersimple: (hectopus)
[personal profile] unallersimple
I arrived at the airport in Sri Lanka at 2:40 in the morning and to save me any worry, just booked a driver in advance to take me to my youth hostel.

The hostel is further out into the suburbs than I'd thought. I am unfortunately not near the centre at all. You also know you're onto a winner when you appear to be the only guest. Still I have a bed, a fan, a flushing toilet and a shower with cold water so it's all ok for now. The middle aged gentleman on reception is very friendly and told me how to get the bus into Colombo. (Sister Laura, he is just like the father of the Japanese co-worker I caught sleeping in the cupboard once! This is oddly comforting somehow.)

So after drifting in and out of sleep in my empty dorm I got up at lunch time and made my way out into my new surroundings.

The time it took from walking outside to feeling overwhelmed was roughly five seconds. It was so hot I started sweating immediately. I tried to make my way down the road to the bus stop but it wasn't easy. There was no pavement so I had to walk on the road along with other pedestrians, cars, tuk tuks and scooters. If that wasn't enough I also had to contend with 3 stray dogs, one stray cat and an ox that ambled over towards me in a (thankfully) friendly manner. This was all before reaching the main road!

Trying to cross a main road involves waiting and hoping for a long time that there will be a break in the traffic. When you realise there won't be you just have to take a deep breath, close your eyes and step out into the path of oncoming vehicles and hope they stop or drive round you. I have now taken to waiting for a local to cross at the same time for safety.

I then found a bus stop, and noticed with great gladness that there appeared to be a 138 bus every 30-60 seconds. This was helpful as there was no information at the bus stop, not even the name of the location. I observed how other people got on before trying it myself. Boarding involves flagging the bus which slows for you but doesn't stop. Then you have jump onto the stairs and dash inside before it speeds up again. I felt like Indianna Jones!

There was a seat free so I handed over my fare and sat down gratefully whilst wiping all the sweat off. I looked out the window trying to memorise landmarks for the journey home.

Bus drivers seem to think they are in a video game called "Drive fast, Smash Tuk Tuks." Everybody seems to think that the horn somehow powers the engine.

The journey into the city took 30-40 minutes and I was very proud I managed to figure out where I was and get off where I wanted to. Disembarking was even more perilous than boarding. You had to stand in the aisle and wait, then jump off in the middle of the road when the conductor told you to when it had stopped in traffic. Not so bad for me as I'm by myself, but one group of friends ended up being dropped off at intervals along the street as the traffic started moving again every time one of them made it off the bus!

After wondering around for at least another half hour I was unable to locate a restaurant or some kind of supermarket so jumped on another bus back to the hostel. Happily I did spy a supermarket on the way back and loaded up with goodies before walking the rest of the way home in the rain. Very refreshing.

When I got back to the hostel an elderly man made me a cup of tea and I found a gecko on the wall next to my bed.

I feel rather ridiculous that all I've done in my first twelve hours here is make two bus journeys, but I'm British so I'm sure you can understand I've had more than enough excitement for one day. In my defense I am also very tired from two days of traveling with very little sleep!

Definitely time for bed now.

Will start sightseeing tomorrow.

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unallersimple

January 2016

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