50 things we’ve learnt during our 28 days in Sri Lanka.

1. Your feet will never be clean… No matter how hard you scrub.

2. A morning shower is pointless… You are covered in sweat two metres after walking out the room!

3. Milo chocolate milk is like drinking calorific drops of heaven – it should be a sin.

4. People genuinely want to help you for no other reason than they can. 

5. They smile… All the time!! And not in a creepy way. 

6. Tourist prices for attractions will destroy your budget and make you weep. 

7. Local food is the best in guest houses and where police men eat.

8. Ice cream and Milo for lunch is perfectly acceptable. 

9. You burn your feet walking around the temples in bare feet!

10. You can be stuck in a traffic jam caused by wild elephants.

11. Sri Lankan spicy is not the same as Indian spicy… We’re bad ass and need more chilli!!!

12. They don’t have Limca, and Elephant Ginger Beer doesn’t quite hit the same spot.

13. There are two types of tourists in Sri Lanka… One dresses in hot pants and crop tops, the others are more respectful – and the locals appreciate the latter one!

14. The Sri Lankan radio DJ’s clearly have a thing for Boyzone, Westlife and Ronan Keating.

15. It is worth getting up at 4.45m… But only to see a blue whale!

16. Umbrellas are used for three reasons… Sun shades, occasional rain and concealment canopies for snogging!!!

17. People don’t give you directions – they hop on their bike to show you or walk you directly to the door!

18. Sometimes Jayne just needs a nap!!!

19. Melted chocolate from home is the best gift ever.

20. Sri Lankan double beds are a European single.

21. When it rains, it rains hard!

22. Sugar doesn’t ‘delete’ itself in hot drinks.

23. Not all ATM’s will accept your card, even if they took it in a different town.

24. We can look at wild elephants for a long time.

25. It is okay to walk along the train tracks to get to your destination.

26. It is illegal to play music in a National Park. 

27. You need a ticket to get into the airport or the train station.

28. Guesthouse curries range drastically in price and often the cheapest ones are the nicest!

29. Both of us still get sunburnt after 4 months away in the sun.

30. ‘Are you married?’ is the follow up question to ‘Where are you from?’.

31. Jayne and I are still cousin-sisters.

32. Those who can, drive. Those who can’t drive, drive TukTuks.

33. Happiness is hearing the approaching bread van TukTuk playing ‘Für Elise’.

34. Everything is endemic to that area.

35. Giant squirrels are pretty big!

36. Pot holes can, and are, filled with coconuts.

37. Sleeping in a car over night is not as easy as it sounds in a tropical climate.

38. The water is very soft in Sri Lanka – our hair has been unruly for weeks!!

39. Sometimes it is necessary to overtake on hair pin bends (and I will close my eyes whilst Jayne does it!). 

40. Policemen are shocked to see a tourist with a Sri Lankan driving license – and all officers nearby will demand to see it.

41. Red buses are driven by Kamikaze drivers or ex-TukTuk drivers (we can’t decide!!)

42. Scooters and bicycles have surf board racks. 

43. Land monitor lizards have stand offs with buses… And win, every time!

44. An automatic car frees up your left hand for snacking capabilities!

45. A beer on the beach watching the sunset is the perfect way to end a day.

46. Women in Sri Lanka tie their sari’s differently than Indian women… And I find the Sri Lankan way more elegant.

47. Flat tyre on an expressway is not fun… Especially when you have to wave down another car for a jack.

48. Stuffed rotis are sublime, especially those loaded with garlic.

49. The expressways are used by tourists and trucks so are always surprisingly quiet!

50. You’ll never have enough time in Sri Lanka to visit everywhere you want to go.

Travelling – day 139

Woke up, showered, dressed and packed the last few bits into our backpacks before getting into the lovely air conditioned car for the final leg of our journey. Headed to the nearby supermarket to pick up something for breakfast. (Un)fortunately, they only had Milo and chocolate Swiss roll as a suitable food item for breakfast… What can you do?!? Headed along the road looking for the signs to direct us to the Southern Expressway. Got about 5km away from our guesthouse when we realised that the expressway is only advertised in the opposite direction!! A speedy u-turn and we were now headed in the right direction. Had been driving up the expressway for about 20 minutes when the front left tyre burst. Having never happened to either of us before, we were both surprisingly calm as Jayne put on the hazard lights and steered the car to the hard shoulder. We got out the spare tyre and started to loosen nuts when we realised that Europcar hadn’t supplied us with a jack… Tried to ask some locals in a house nearby who had obviously heard the wheel pop and came to investigate but they didn’t have one either. Managed, after several failed attempts, to flag down a car that was driving down the expressway (filled with Canadian tourists). Their Sri Lankan driver lent us his jack and gave us a hand to change the wheel over so we could keep going to the airport.   He very kindly stayed behind us for about 20km to make sure we were okay as we drove cautiously slowly up the expressway, knowing full well that we didn’t have time for another emergency! Fortunately, the rest of the drive was without incident, although the getting between the outer circular expressway and the airport expressway made us realise how glad we were that the car was going back. Arrived at Europcar to deliver the car and proceeded to have a small heated discussion about the lack of car jack… A quick rummage by one of the mechanics found the jack under the passenger seat (apparently, it is a sensible place to keep it – although I still would go for storing it with the spare wheel and other tools!). As the tyre was not a puncture, we had to pay £20 to replace it but we took Europcar complaint email address as neither of us feel we should have to pay for everyday wear and tear damage… Watch this space! Got to the airport with two hours until our flight was due to take off and felt a bit rushed going through the excessive amounts of security checks just to enter the check in desk area, only to find out our flight was delayed by 1.5hours! Headed through to the departure lounge to find everything priced in dollars and about 3 times the price of anything we have paid in Sri Lanka. Despite this, I felt that Jayne could use a special treat based on today’s stressful drive so we had a sneaky Burger King before heading to our gate. A fairly painless flight with Mihin Lanka and we were in the Maldives. Slightly giddy walking through the airport with our hotel rep to the ferry jetty – we were the only tourists on board and clearly the only ones excited by the mode of transport we were using!! A short walk to the hotel to drop off our bags before heading back out to grab something small to eat and to check out the ferry jetty we need to get for tomorrow to Dhiffushi.  

Tuesday 23rd February 2016