From my diary, written at the airport immediately when I landed: “My body is a little busted, but hopefully it’ll be fine. A lot of tests await me. The main challenge is not to compare. Differences between the living in Sri Lanka and what I am used to from my country. The level is lower, but that’s it, accept it. Watch it, and you like it. Enjoy everything. The trip is adventurous from the beginning, but who would like boredom?”
For someone, the words may sound like crap, but at that time, I was very critical of everything — a naive girl who knew only comfort and prosperity from Europe.
I remember my feelings entirely. I felt exhausted, nervous, excited, disappointed, sweaty and with fear. I was afraid to talk to someone, to look someone in the eye and to ask.
Still Day 1
I took an express bus from the airport to Colombo, and it is approximately 35 km from the airport. The bus station is right outside the airport. Nowhere is any specific information, so I recommend you to ask locals.
I reached Colombo, crazy and hot. I quickly went to a shop to buy a Simcard and to be able to search as much as possible online. I went through a market place where I saw for the first time so many kinds of fruits and vegetables.
I can tell you, the heat, tuk-tuks, 20 hours in a plane. That is not the best time to visit such a city like Colombo.
I went to the central train station, and just before my eyes; the train was slowly starting to move in the direction I needed. I bought a ticket and wanted to jump on. But the guards began to call something. I couldn’t understand, but it was clear from their expression and gestures that I shouldn’t do that.
So I sat on the bench, had a coconut and waited for the next one.
I looked around
The train station doesn’t look like the stations we are used to from big cities in Europe — a massive complex of floors above and below the ground, with ample shopping malls, restaurants, cafes, shops. Large electronic boards everywhere possible and free internet connection.
What I saw was a simple station with a few windows for sale tickets, a couple of benches, some shop or a stall selling fruit and coconuts, one or two simple boards. Many tuk-tuks and people around.
The trains are from the times of British colonization so wholly disproportionate and the models look very simple. Objectively that is what I saw. Subjectively, for me, the train ride was unforgettable.
Enjoy the train ride
For the first time in my life was in trains and buses with open doors — people are happy to sit or stand in open doors and enjoy the ride, which I did after I shook my fear away. The first days and rides, I was ashamed to do anything “crazy”. I was so tied up with everything, not to look like a fool. I was wondering what people would think of me. I was superior and superficial. When I let myself free, I was experiencing life.
Walk along an old bridge
But the day was not over. At one smaller station, I had to change to another train. But I still had time, so I went for a walk along an old bridge and had a fruit salad at a lady in the stall.
I got on the next train, which made the ride even more impressive because I was already driving through a central province full of hills, plantations, palm trees, jungle.
I arrived in Gampola, where I was supposed to sleep. Unlike the crazy Colombo, this is a quiet city. I found a local restaurant, a tiny place where only local people ate and ordered my first rice and curry.
After more like 40 hours went to sleep in a comfy bed. Full of new experiences was looking for the next day. It was a ride from the beginning.