Sri Lanka Diary: April 7th – Day 1 – Arriving in Lanka

The fifth day of the 2nd test match between Sri Lanka and England was on at the P Sara stadium in Colombo. I landed at the airport at 5.30 in the morning, a direct flight from Mumbai. This was a new development as previously, one had to change flights in Chennai. This Sri Lankan Airways flight, on a code share basis with Air India, charged my Rs 16,000 (and a bit) for an up-and-down ticket. The Bandaranaike International Airport (was it named after the husband or the wife?) is the only major airport in the country. While they many small airports in different towns, Sri Lanka does not have an active domestic air service. There are private aircraft, cargo planes, choppers and the aircraft of the armed forces.

The airport is about 30 kilometres from Colombo town. The implication of this was that the place to go, for tourists, is Negombo (7 kilometres away) rather than Colombo. I had booked a non-AC room at Ceylonica Beach Resort for $25 (came to about Rs 1300 on my card). I reached there around 7 am and promptly hit the sack. I had half-hearted considered going to see the cricket but then sleep was more necessary.

Ceylonica Beach Hotel           From Sri Lanka Holiday
The Rooms of Ceylonica          From Sri Lanka Holiday

The Ceylonica is right on the ocean. Get out of the gate and you are there. But it was searing hot. At 9 in the morning. After having breakfast (fried egg, toast, bananas and Sri Lankan tea without milk), I decided to take a walk – find a cyber cafe to send word back home (I switched off my cell phone not bothering with international roaming), find an ATM to withdraw some local currency and generally have a look around. Within an hour of strolling around, I was back drenched in sweat. I just hit the sack.

Negombo Beach               From Sri Lanka Holiday
Lewis Place – The main adda for tourists From Sri Lanka Holiday
A church on Lewis Place       From Sri Lanka Holiday

It was 4.30 pm when I woke up and decided to get some grub. I strolled down Lewis Place and came across a bar which hung a Barmy Army banner. I walked in to see a few English gents consuming beer and watching, guess what, EPL (a Tottenham game if I remember right). Since I had missed the test match, I decided to ask them what happened on the final day. There was a strong reply “We won” followed by four elbows raising for beer mugs onto four mouths. I had a couple of beers and some chicken and by 7 I was back in my room. Sri Lanka sleeps early and barring Colombo, there is not much a nightlife. But being on the ocean has its advantages – the ocean breeze more than makes up for the heat of the day. Sitting under the porch lamp, legs stretched out, I re-opened the bookmarked page where I had stopped reading The Clash of Kings (Book 2 of A Song of Ice and Fire).

My first day in Sri Lanka was a relaxing start – morning walk, mid-day nap, late afternoon beer and food, late night stretching on the beach.

Day 2 tomorrow.

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