Published: November 1st 2006October 31st 2006
If I ever take a trip like this again, I am not going to arrive or depart an airport after dark. It is frightening to go into an unknown place and especially at night. On our flight, there was one Caucasian lady. We approached her when the plane landed and asked her a couple of questions. She worked for the Asia Foundation, a human rights organization. We were thankful for her help and advice. We were able to locate a kiosk run by our hotel, the Colombo Hilton. They got us a taxi and we felt safe leaving in it. We had to ride approximately 40 minutes to the hotel. We were stopped numerous times by the military police. The driver would turn on the inside light, the police would shine a light on us, ask the driver questions, and motion us forward. These security points are all over the country but especially in Colombo. The LTTE, Liberation of Tigers of Timel, have started making noises again about overthrowing Sri Lanka's constitutional government. Their rebel army attacks have mostly been in the countryside. While we were there, they attacked four members of one household (3 children) and killed the eleven year old girl.
Walt chose our hotel knowing that the Hilton would be safe. It was a beautiful, huge hotel. We could look out our window and view the Indian Ocean in front and the old Parliament Building to our left. We decided to walk to the beach. It looked pretty from the hotel, but as we approached we could see garbage washing up onto the shore. No one was on the beach. I could not take any photos in that region. In our half block walk, we easily encountered 30 military police. They were not intimidating. If you smiled or spoke to them, they generally smiled back. The Hilton had 3 live bands every night and seemed to be where many European businessmen stayed. They also had a tremendous outdoor fountain surrounded by a pool full of koi fish and a pair of swans. I met two nice ladies when I was at the pool. They were from the Uk and had traveled more places than us. They were like Walt, always planning a trip in the future. I had my first ride in a tuk tuk in Colombo. If you are taking a short ride, they are ok. Ttuk tuks are noisy and smoky. You leave coughing after breathing so many exhaust fumes. The drivers drive like bats out of hell! I was glad when we finally got off at the market. We found a few small items at the market, but I did better at the hotel shops. The only problem at the hotel was that 4 employees would stand around and watch you shop. Tourism must really be down. We have found this in several places. The hotels have way too many employees. They jump in the elevator with you to push the button. If I were you, I wouldn't rush to put Sri Lanka on my next vacation's itinerary. It is not safe to go out into parts of the countryside. What we saw was poverty again, dirt sidewalks except in the city, and no reason to return.
Next destination: Bangkok, Thailand