We finished our tour of Sri Lanka in Colombo. Many people who have visited Sri Lanka report hating the city, but I had a feeling we might like it. And I was right.
After almost a month of feeling ho hum about the country, we arrived in the capital city. We stayed in a Flip Key (like Airbnb) apartment away from the main tourist area, but close to the Indian visa office where we needed to go to finish the Indian visa process.
We had already dropped our paperwork off when we first arrived in Sri Lanka. Now we needed to drop our passports off and then come pick them up the next day.
We spent our first two days in Colombo dealing with the visa stuff (and rickshaw drivers that wanted to up the agreed on price after we got in. Annoying.)
And I had my first ever panic attack while riding in a rickshaw to the Indian visa office.
The 5 of us piled into one rickshaw for the short ride. There is room for 3 comfortably. We fit by putting two people on laps. I was on the inside with Arwen on my lap. It was hot and we got stuck in slow traffic. I panicked when I realized I was trapped in the rickshaw and couldn’t get out easily without everyone else getting out first. I tried to take deep breaths and stick my head out the side around Arwen’s body.
But I couldn’t stop panicking. I had to get out of the rickshaw NOW! Without even thinking about it, I shoved Arwen off my lap and lifted my leg over the metal half wall. Suddenly I was standing in the Colombo traffic. Everyone including the driver was shocked. I dashed around the rickshaw and climbed back in and sat on Rand’s lap for the rest of the ride. After that I refused to ride on the inside if we ever packed into a rickshaw again.
In Colombo, we also rested and ate all of the junky American food we could find. We were so sick of Sri Lankan food at this point. Sri Lankan food is actually great, but there is not much variety. After a month, we were very tired of vegetable kottu and roti with dahl.
We ate our fill of McDonald’s and Dominos Pizza. We even had McDonalds’ delivered once. That’s right, McDonald’s has a delivery service in Sri Lanka! It is awesome, except that the fries were soggy by the time they arrived.
Behind the McDonald’s was a playground. Kali can’t resist playgrounds. Everywhere we have traveled, she always wants try out the local playgrounds. So we stopped and played for a while.
On our last day in Sri Lanka we took a bus to Pettah to see its outdoor market and interesting buildings.
The market was fantastic. I loved the bustling energy. We walked through the stalls selling goods and then entered the produce market.
I was observing the basket of garlic and ginger when I noticed a man raise his hand up as I was walking towards him. I wasn’t sure why he did that, but in the split second before I passed him, I realized he wanted to give me a high 5, so I shot my hand up to meet his. It was a fun, bizarre moment.
Everyone was busy on the streets of Pettah. Trucks were being loaded. Motorbikes zoomed by. People, mostly men, criss-crossed the streets.
We visited the candy-striped Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque where only men were allowed to tour the upstairs. The girls and I waited in the lobby as Rand walked up the steps, mouthing an apology.
We also visited the restaurant where Duran Duran filmed part of the “Hungry like a Wolf” video. Rand reenacted Simon Le Bon flipping the table.
That night we found a local restaurant and ate our last Sri Lankan meal. It is amazing how much better the food is at the local restaurants compared to the watered down tourist places. We had delicious kottu, the best chicken deviled we tried, and really good egg and chicken hoppers.
Then it was time to leave Sri Lanka and head to India.