To Colombo and then Kandy ( Sri Lanka Part 1)


We chose to fly Air India Express to Colombo largely due to it’s convenient arrival time , not to forget the modest charges. I cannot really say that I had a good flight, but then again what else do you expect on a no frills carrier. Here are a few pointers- Please make sure you convert your Indian Rupees to Lankan Rupees while in India, simply because no one buys INR at the airport. You just end up stuck with a lot of Gandhis throughout your trip. Or do what I did. I found a black marketer selling currency at a reasonably rate (2.3 SLR to 1 INR). Here was how I found him. There is a Taj hotel information counter as soon as you clear customs on the left side, hard to miss. Ask the guy at the counter to help you out and that is exactly what he will do. Do it discretely and you have nothing to worry about.
From the Airport I took the free airport bus to Everivattu stand in Katunayike.Given that I planned on spending no time in Colombo on my way into Sri Lanka, I got off the bus at Kotuwar Bus stand. This bus stand is a 5 minute walk from the railway station which was how we intended on getting to Kandy. The trains in Sri Lanka have largely three classes, the observation car(this is the first class)- The observation car is a carriage at the very front of the train with its front end covered in see through glass. You are the face of the train and the view ahead of you makes the ride altogether very enjoyable. But here is the catch- the observation car is so popular that you need to make the booking 12 days in advance and given that the Sri Lankan railways have no online interface, you have to do this in person. Or, use this website .www.reddottours.com.The next is the Second Class, where you have individual seats and are extremely clean and private. Finally the third class, this is like the Indian second class, only cleaner by a large margin.
Mind you the train booking counter is closed between 12:30 and 1:00 pm.Given that this is the time you are most likely to get here, you might have some waiting to do.If you want a good Lankan meal , eat at the “The Crown”, across the street from the railway station. The biryani was sweet with larger than usual rice grains.It came with a dried fish pickle which was to die for. The biryani was accompanied with an insipid deep fried chicken. Also try the fish curry. This tastes exactly like the Kerala fish curry , only darker.
Once we bought our tickets , we had about an hour to ourselves. We headed out to the ex-servicemen’s club on Bristol St. The Ex-Servicemen’s club allows foreigners to enter and a chilled Lion beer is available at SLR 150.I went on the day after the Lankans lost the world cup to the Indians. I attracted a lot of angry stares.

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