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.

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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.

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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.
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Snake charmers in front of the Galle Face Hotel.
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Where Colombo ends the Indian Ocean begins.
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My trusted tuk-tuk driver

 

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