Introducing Sri Lanka

The Serendib Chronicles – Day 1
29th Oct 10, Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

The Cathay Pacific flight arrived into Colombo airport at 10.40pm. After deliberating for a bit, I decided not to overnight in Colombo. Instead, we will take the public bus down to Hikkaduwa through the night, where W will meet us from Mirissa.

The free shuttle service goes 2km to the airport bus station, from which service 187 takes you to Bastian Mwatha station in Colombo. The only problem is at 12.30am, the bus (which normally waits till full before moving off) doesn’t look like its going anywhere anytime soon. So, not wanting to wait 2 hours at the deserted bus station, we decided to take a three-wheeler (henceforth called tuk-tuk for simplicity’s sake) after some bargaining(1200 Rp) to Colombo. The Sri Lankans are a nice lot. Not too pushy. Yes they will ask you for a tuktuk or propose some other offer for you, but if you decline firmly, they won’t persist. And they always have a smile for you no matter what the outcome.

Tuk tuk ride. Braving the nightime draft, along the coastal road. Of particular interest are the local policemen standing guard in the middle and at the roadside every 500 meters or so. At 1am in the night!

Bastian Mwatha by night. The only late night service in operation seems to be the Colombo – Matara line. We would need to drop off at Hikkaduwa along the way (160 Rp on the tix, we paid 350 Rp for two, don’t ask me why). The bus interchange itself must have been very busy in the day. In the night however, the sundry shops and eateries by the wayside are open, yes. But that’s about it. The other bus service queues were empty. Only at the Colombo – Matara service was there a queue. We waited in the queue for 2 buses to load up before our turn to board. The bus stopped whenever there were passengers, and even though we left Colombo all seated, by the time we exited Colombo City, it was a “sardines in a can” situation. How I managed to sleep under the circumstances, during the 2 to 3 hour bus ride, in a crowded bus with Sri Lankan music blaring through the speakers, is beyond me. Also, I realised much later that clergy, meaning the monks, get the front seats in the bus reserved for them.

Reached Hikkaduwa around 4am, walked south along the coastal Galle Road to the budget place “Why Not? Guesthouse” which stood out, because the name just screams out “Pick me!”. 1200 Rp for the cheaper rooms on the ground level.

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