RTW TRIP COLOMBO, SRI LANKA DAY 135: A SURPRISE VISIT TO SRI LANKA
Sri Lanka was not on our original itinerary for our around the world trip, but after we talked to our friend in India about it, we decided to make a detour. I can say we were very happy we did!
People described Sri Lanka to us as a cleaner, and slightly more expensive India. Since the country is so small, it was supposedly fairly easy to navigate as well. They were definitely on point!
Around ten years ago, a visa wasn’t necessary, but it is now enforced. The visa is really easy to do online for $30, or for $35 on arrival.
When we arrived at the airport in Colombo, we noticed a lot of other passengers were not wearing shoes, washing machines were available for purchase, and you get a free SIM card with credit when you get your passport stamped.
We arrived late in the afternoon, and we wanted to get to our hostel as soon as possible, but didn’t want to pay for a taxi since we were still quite a ways away. We opted to wait for the airport bus, that would take us to the Fort area, for 120 LAK each, plus 10 rupees for large baggage. As we were waiting for the bus, we saw tons of ravens flying above us, nesting in trees, on telephone wires, and on buildings. They were everywhere. I then I remembered seeing a Parts Unknown episode where Anthony Bourdain visits Sri Lanka, and experiences the same Hitchcock experience we did. Watch your heads!
When our bus arrived at Fort (it was the last stop), we took a trishaw to our hostel, Backpack Lanka.
Financially, Sri Lanka was a bit hard for us, as we were doing this after the insanely cheap India. We were paying more than usual for a private room with shared bathroom at Backpack Lanka, but it was a great choice for our first stay in Colombo.
The rooms were simple but clean, equipped with air conditioning. The common area has a water station and TV, and the hostel is located in a good area, close to a grocery and beer store. As soon as we got settled, we met one of the owners of the place. Mahesh was a business minded, talkative and friendly chap, who had spent time in England, and invited us to join him for drinks. He thought I had spent a lot of time in Sri Lanka because I already had the the head bob (that I actually got from India!)
It had been awhile since we ate, so we opted to grab some food and beers first, and would then return to the hostel.
We ended up getting two things for dinner from a quick place a few doors down. Hygiene was questionable, but we didn’t want to go far, as it was already pretty late. We got small vegetable rotis, which are like little samosas, but with a thinner, wrap-like pancake outside. I loved these little morsels so much, and ended up eating quite a few of these throughout the trip!
Greg was super hungry, so he also opted to get one of Sri Lanka’s famous meals, the kottu roti. It uses the same crepe-like blanket of the triangular rotis, stir fried in a pan and mixed with ingredients such as egg and onions, and chopped up in long thin lines. At any time of day you will hear a chef chopping away making this signature dish. I only had a couple bites as it was quite heavy, but Greg absolutely loved it’s greasy and savory flavors. It went perfectly with our Lion beers and stouts…I can only imagine it is very popular drunk food.
When we got back to Backpack Lanka, Mahesh was equipped with two giant bottles of Sri Lankan alcohol. Arrak proved to be quite tasty when mixed with ginger ale, and even the light drinkers from Chengdu, China even drank some. The next morning though, we didn’t feel great, and we thought it was the Arrak, but unfortunately it was because of the kottu roti!
Mansukh Fine Dine 2 veg noodle, water 245
Train to airport 10
Leftover Indian rupees 9
Thumbs up 120
Sri Lanka visa $60
Bus from airport to fort plus bags 250 LAK
Trishaw to Backpack Lanka 250 LAK
Backpack Lanka 4550 LAK
Kottu roti and roti 180
Total cost: 384 rupees + $60USD + 5720 LAK = $106.54 / 2 = $53.27 per person
What I learned: If you are hoping to eat vegetable rotis, places usually make them in the morning and early afternoon. The vegetarian variety is always triangular shape. There are other types as well, like fish rotis, which are usually circular.
Actual date of travel: January 16, 2015