Its about a month since we both gave up work, and after a few weeks of tearful goodbyes to family and friends, and Steve somehow achieving the impossible by getting all our worldly possessions into a 8ft cubed storage container, we’re finally here. But it is everything we thought it would be?
In short, not really. We’ve been in Sri Lanka 4 days now and its not really want we expected of backpacking, That might be to do with where we are staying, and we’ve already learnt a few lessons which will help us out as we go along. We aren’t panicking yet!
Sri Lanka is a beautiful country, and the people are really friendly. The food is so far great, if you stick to local cuisine and don’t try and get a steak (BIG MISTAKE – I dunno what meat it was they gave us but it wasn’t any kind of beef steak). Alcohol is unbelievably expensive compared to everything else. A meal of Rice with Curry (Sri Lankan main dish) and some kind of meat or fish is about 400LKR (£2.20) and more than enough to feed you. A beer is 350LKR (£2.00) in a restaurant. I think we will have a fairly dry month on the booze front.
We’ve only been in Negombo so far, and one of the first lessons we’ve learnt is that 5 nights in a sleepy fishing village is far too much. The restaurants shut at 10pm, there are no bars, and the hostel we are staying at, whilst nice doesn’t really have a communal area so there is very little socialising happening. Lesson number 2 – make sure wherever you go has some kind of common area that you can at least chill out in.
We’ve spent more money than we had budgeted for, but after a day or so of panicking about this we remembered that this was supposed to be fun and we didn’t need to stick to the budget every day religiously. Some days will be more expensive than others, and we just need to try and balance it out as much as possible.
We’ve done some really cool things despite it not being what we really expected. The lagoon trip we did was great fun. We got to feed some monkeys (not sure about the Ethical tourism credentials of that but it was a good day nonetheless), I got to skip in the lagoon like a small child, Steve got some practise with the complicated camera we bought for the trip. We’ve seen more churches and temples than I can count – Buddhist temples are pretty awesome to look at, and we also experienced the Fish Market, which was, well, Smelly. One thing we’ve both noticed is how there are at least 4 different religions muddling along quite happily side by side here. Everyone we meet is very religious, but no one seems to hate people who are a different religion.
We’ve also experienced the local town centre on a Saturday which was little bit like Reading on a Saturday before Christmas, only hotter, busier, and with some more expensive things. One guy tried to sell me a pair of trousers for 2,800 LKR (about £15) and genuinely seemed surprised when I told him I’d bought the same thing 5 minutes ago for 600LKR (about £3.50). Still, I bought a lovely Sari which will double everywhere as a beach mat, and the ladies tied me up in it which saved everyone one from seeing my whiter than Casper/Mosquito bitten legs for a bit.
We start an organised tour with G-Adventures tomorrow where we travel inland to Kandy and Tea Country so we are hoping for a sociable bunch and a good insight into the rest of Sri Lanka., plus a few beers for a bit cheaper!