[A traditional Sri Lankan breakfast]
This is what happens when New Years lasts for an entire week, locals are traveling around the country, and you are trying to get from Matara all the way back to Colombo..
Since I really enjoyed the atmosphere at Tropi Turtle, I tried to stay another night, but could not change my hotel booking in Colombo (again lol), where I had “splurged” on a $16 dorm room. To put into perspective, $16 can get you either 320 mini bananas, 160 sugar biscuits, 64 packs of peanuts, 35 rotis, 32 fresh coconuts, 16 plates of rice and curry, 6 western style breakfasts or from Matara to Colombo (153km) 9 times on the local bus. Sri Lanka is an extremely budget friendly country to travel!
I honestly didn’t think the local buses could be any more jammed pack, but today I was proven wrong. After waiting in an hour long lineup at a bustling bus depot, I learned that the “luxury” coach bus doesn’t actually stop in Colombo. Another traveler had approached me earlier and since I told her the bus goes to Colombo, I thought it would only be right to find her and update the news. Long story short, we gave up on the idea of getting on a coach bus that takes the new highway (2.5 hours), and settled for a local bus that stops every few minutes (4 hours). For 180 LKR, we snagged seats in the back and sat next to the door, which is always permanently open. This meant FREE AC (wind) and I got to know some local Sri Lankans quite well. Maybe a little too well! Let’s just say personal space did not exist. For future travelers, I would recommend taking the train or a coach for those longer distances.
After 6 hours of traveling (that was only meant to be 2.5 hrs), I stumbled into Clock Inn, a budget hotel in Colombo 04. Two words. AIR CONDITIONING. It’s been almost 2 weeks since I’ve had AC. Truthfully, it doesn’t usually bother me but it is HOT here. It’s to the point where I haven’t had a patch of skin that hasn’t been dripping in sweat since I’ve been here, which then turns me into a mosquito magnet. It’s been a while since I’ve had a proper bed, shower, and a toilet with a seat on it. Did I mention that I’ve been showering with a hose that’s about 1 mm in diameter? When I walked into Clock Inn, it felt like a palace in comparison. The entire building is super clean air, no mosquitoes, the shower has hot water (not that you need it), there are seats on the toilet, and each individual stall even has it’s own individual light. Plus, there is toilet paper! I was so ecstatic that I ate chocolate cake and butterscotch mousse in bed, in my air conditioned room, without flies and mosquitoes all over me. Then my roommates showed me the hangout room downstairs with a kitchen and TV! It just keeps getting better! Oh, the simple things in life!
“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted” -Bill Bryson