Colombo by Tuk Tuks

Sri Lanka — December 22 – 29, 2017

My last journey in 2017 found me in Colombo — the capital of Sri Lanka. I was there to enjoy some time off from work, and visit friends Damith and Craig.

Lunch at Colombo Swimming Club with Damith (Left) and Craig (Center).

To wrap my head around the journey I watched Anthony Bourdain’s Sri Lankan episode of Parts Unknown. Surprisingly, Damith knows two of the actors who were featured in that episode. In the past, I used Parts Unknown to learn about the countries I visited such as Cuba and Mexico City. Watching an episode only takes fifty minutes as compared to the days it takes me to read a book on the same subject. Like, Bourdain, I visited the Galle Face Hotel where I enjoyed their seafood tempura with my colleague, Dr. Carole, who was guest at the hotel.  I took it upon myself to guide Dr. Carole around the city as I had learned about the city because I stayed in Colombo for the duration of my vacation unlike Dr. Carole who booked tours and saw Sri Lanka from points away from Colombo. During my time in Colombo, I learned the following things.

  1. Getting a SIM card for your cellphone before leaving the airport is super easy.
  2. Use Tuk-Tuks — Only agree to ride in a Tuk Tuk with a meter.
  3. Use Uber — traveling in cars protects you from Colombo’s air pollution.
  4. Developing a good relationship with your Tuk Tuk driver can save you money and hassles.
  5. Diversify — use Tuk-Tuks and Uber.
  6. Tuk-Tuks are cheap, beware unscrupulous drivers.

On my last day in Colombo, I thought I would request an Uber around midnight to take me to the airport. I was rudely awakened by the realization that Uber was not responding at that hour. I am not certain if my app was malfunctioning or if Uber is regulated in Sri Lanka so that drivers cannot find work at that hour. Luckily, I called my trusty Tuk Tuk driver who was available and ready to pick me up. I thought I would only ask him to take me an area to find a taxi, but he told me that he can get me to the airport in under 50 minutes. I laughed to myself, but it seemed a reasonable suggestion to him so I took him up on the offer. I saved money too.

The meter is located above the windshield on the left side. It is partially visible in this picture, but not enough to get a real sense of what to look for.
Snake charmers in front of the Galle Face Hotel.
Where Colombo ends the Indian Ocean begins.
My trusted tuk-tuk driver