We can’t believe 7 days have passed between the last time we sit down to write our weekly update and today. It feels like ages! A week ago we were dropping off a tuk-tuk in the middle of Colombo’s city center and getting a rush of adrenaline so big it can only be described as the drop of a rollercoaster. The amount of information is nothing short of overwhelming and the feelings of “omg this is insane” and “is this really safe?!” and “what the hell am I doing here” were absolute constants.
In any case, the answer is pretty simple: a city center is a city center, wherever you are in the world. The chaos is always there: people are living their lives, going to work, rushing to get their buses, buying food for dinner… As an outsider, you might not get the rhythm, but it exists. Just like it does in your own hometown. Sometimes quiet, sometimes dangerous, sometimes simply chaotic.
And well, after that afternoon visiting the Red Mosque and being approached by a friendly local who ordered us a tuk-tuk (which dropped us in front of a Gem Stone store), we firmly believe we can survive anything. It’s not like Sri Lanka isn’t safe, on the contrary, we were expecting it to be something like Brazil and we feel as safe as we did in Europe. But the adrenaline of not yet knowing if what we’re doing is actually safe… well, this made that afternoon a travel baptism.
We discovered Colombo is not highly rated for tourism when traveling to Sri Lanka. As a tourist, there are many other places worth visiting instead of this bustling city, but Colombo really impressed us! If you want to experience the chaotic side of Sri Lanka then you should definitely add a day or two to your itinerary here. But no more than that… really, there’s not much to do lol
After our few days in Colombo, we hopped on a 3-hour train ride to Galle (pronounced “goal”), a major city at the southwestern tip of the country. Even though there were no available seats, the ride started smoothly and the open windows and ceiling fans really helped with the heat. By the end of the journey, we felt like very old sardines in a can with chronic back and knee pain. It was a ride to remember!
Our plan was to get a tuk-tuk from the train station to our hotel, located in a nearby beach town. It is worth noting that this was just two days before Sri Lanka’s people stormed into the President’s House (and flee the country in no time), and therefore the crisis is currently at its peak. Not a single tuk-tuk wanted to take us to our hotel because of the fuel shortage… We had to improvise.
We got a hotel at Galle Fort, a fortified town founded in the 16th century by Portuguese colonists and later conquered and expanded by the Dutch. The place is lovely and we’re so glad we accidentally stayed the night there! We used it to replan everything and accept the fact that we will be changing our itinerary as we go (and painfully removing oh-so-wished places from it).
Fortunately, the hotel staff was able to book us a tuk-tuk to the next city: Unawatuna. Here’s where the magic started, and where we could finally relax from all of the stress that leaving everything behind, crossing half the globe, and facing Colombo in crisis was. The place is Peace in form of a beach town and what was supposed to be two short days ended up being four long relaxing days by the beach.
We hiked through the jungle to a remote beach (and got face-to-face with a wild black monkey), visited a Japanese Pagoda full of monks, bathed in the Indian Ocean, and swung in palm trees during sunset… Paradise indeed.
Never mind that the guesthouse’s shower was broken and the power cuts left us outside with the mosquitoes for a few hours before bed. Mr. Anura and his wife made us feel at home, the food is delicious, mango juices are the sweetest ever and the beaches are perfect. Who cares about a broken shower?!
As much as we wanted to stay there for longer, we still have many places to visit so this morning we took a quick 45-minute train ride to our next destination: a surf town called Weligama. We have no idea what’s expecting us here, but if there’s something we learned in the first week of our trip is that the unexpected is often the best part of life. So whatever it is, we’re ready!!!