I arrived at Colombo around 2:00 a.m. and felt immediately lost. I did not feel like a free bird but like a bird who’s not known the world outside her defined enclosure. To start with, there was no network on my phone so I couldn’t chat or google for information. The local SIM at the airport seemed like a costly deal (1200 LKR). I stood there gathering my thoughts then moved towards immigrations and recollected someone telling me that we get a local SIM for free at immigrations.
I moved to immigrations, got the stamp on my passport and asked for the SIM. Once I had network on my phone I started feeling better again. It was close to 2:30 a.m. I knew I couldn’t go anywhere so I just sat at the airport lounge trying to make a plan for the coming day.
I wanted to sleep but I was too anxious to. I sat there trying to figure out how to charge my phone and eventually the person who was sitting next to me in the flight appeared and helped me out by giving his phone charger.
Phone charged – situation better. Gradually I started making conversation with other travelers there. Most of them were with friends or their partners. I had a conversation with a guy who was sitting alone with his surf board and was quite a head-turner there. Turns out he was waiting for his friends and they were going to be there for 2 weeks only to surf! How amazing is that. They were all coming from Germany. We exchanged our WhatsApp numbers and then I bid him goodbye at around 7 a.m. when I felt it was safe to venture out alone into the world that was waiting for me outside.
I walked outside trying to figure out my way. I knew a couchsurfer from Kandy so I thought of heading there directly. I tried to haggle with the tuk tuk guys initially. They were asking for 1000 LKR to drop me to a bus stop from where I could bus to Kandy. Seemed absurd to me. As soon as I got to know the nearest bus stop is only about a kilometer away, I decided to walk to the bus stop. It’s around 1.5. km from the airport).
From there I took a bus to Negombo.
While I was in this bus another couchsurfer responded and suggested that I reach Nuwara Eliya as he was anyway showing around 2 other travelers. This made sense to me. So from Negombo I took a bus to Colombo.
From Colombo (Fort Station) I took a train to Kandy. Even though there was a wait of couple of hours. I was very tired and wanted to experience the train journey this time.
This train journey was really picturesque. There were many waterfalls and tunnels enroute. Another good thing about this journey was the fact that the train is filled with other travelers so I had many interesting conversations. Everyone I met on this train were travelling with their partners which again made me think if this trip was going to be anything that I had imagined. I had a long conversation with a guy from Paris who was travelling with his girlfriend. Turned out he works in HSBC which was my first place of work.
The only catch here is the crowd. If you are okay standing for a couple of hours without moving a muscle, okay with all the hair that flies around your face (of course not your own hair), then you can handle it. Remember there are many other travelers who would once in a while smile and pass you an empathetic smile coz they understand they truly do.
It was time to bid everyone goodbye and find my way to Nuwara Eliya. Before heading for bus station I tried some local food and charged my phone there.
I found a bus to Nuwara Eliya and spent most of my time sleeping as I hadn’t slept well in last 3 days. Every time I opened my eyes to see where had I reached, all I could see was absolute darkness. I kept wondering how are the people who were getting off the bus even figuring out they have arrived at their destination without the conductor informing them. I was too exhausted to think.
The couchsurfer came to pick me up at the bus stop. I spoke to him for some time. But I was really exhausted to continue. I had not slept on a bed in last 3 days. I excused myself when I felt it was ‘not-too-rude-to-leave-now’ time and slept for 10 hours straight.