Bussing it

Our recommendation from the hotel manager was to get the bus to Colombo rather than the train. Instead of rushing to get the 10:00 (or was it 10:20? Opinions varied) train, we dawdled a little over breakfast and chatted for a while with a delightful Aussie called Dion.

The aforementioned manager drove us into town for 150SLR and dropped us at the bus queue for the Colombo express. Ten minutes later he whizzed past with Dion waving at us as she headed for a different bus. In good time our coach appeared and for 160SLR each, we endured the 3-hour cocktail mixer to Colombo. I swear the guy next to me was getting rather annoyed with my sleepy head landing on his shoulder by the time he disembarked on the outskirts.

Once there, we decided just to get a tuk-tuk straight to Mala and Gilbert’s. Our first driver started the pricing at 550 Rupees so we told him to shove it – we’d paid 250 the other day for much the same journey. Apparently, according to Mala, this was a very good price. As locals they usually pay 350! We argued him as low as 450 (“Good price – come!”;”No, 250 good price. 450 very bad price!”) before turning our backs to try our luck elsewhere. One of his companions instead collared us and offered the journey for 300. Sold to the man with the tan.

Then we found out, about 45 minutes later, that he was new in Colombo and didn’t really know where he was going. He got us to the ballpark area and then spent 15 minutes going around in circles until we found another driver who knew the street. In fairness, the guy never gave up and always asked – and he was honest about Colombo being fairly new to him. Seeing as he’d offered us a good price in the first place, we paid him 400 for his honesty. See how those “give money now” people from the Tooth Temple could benefit?

Mala and Gilbert were out when we got back so we sat outside and ate cheesy biscuits. One of the staff brought us some coconut milk and the dog gradually learned that we weren’t trying to kill it. By the time our hosts returned home, the pooch was our best friend. In fact he’d tried to get intimate with Hans on a couple of occasions, but (I’m glad to say) had been rebuffed at each attempt.

The rest of the day was spent eating, drinking, catching up on blogs, reading and receiving some guests. Four people Hans worked with at the Asia Games came from Sri Lanka, and three of them from Colombo. Two managed to pop over this evening to say “hello” and – small world – the girl’s father and Gilbert share some acquaintances.

All very civilised, we had a nice chat for an hour or so before they had to leave. The two kids are in school and that means a 5am rise in Sri Lanka for a 6:30am start! They very kindly brought Hans cards from the two who couldn’t make it, and a traditional Sri Lankan devil mask painted in bright colours for him to scare children back home in Canada with.

Tomorrow we do a whistle-stop tour of Colombo before our flight to Trivandrum. A week is not long enough in Sri Lanka. Bear this in mind in case you’re thinking of visiting!

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