Getting around in Sri Lanka

I have been living and working in SE Asia for quite some time now, so I get used to what is considered unusual back home.  With Rita’s recent visit, I was reminded how the modes of transport here in Sri Lanka can put the fear of God in some, and in particular Rita who loves her car and making her own way around!

First up is a quick video of travelling on a Government-run bus between Mirissa and Galle in the south of Sri Lanka.  Bus was more empty than is the norm, but the flashing lights and blaring music entertained us.  Unlike Nepali buses, there is no chance of chickens or goats on Sri Lankan buses.

We caught the train back to Colombo from Weligama.  Second-class travel only was available which means we got the opportunity to get our own seat (not guaranteed) and the air-conditioning was by virtue of an open window, complete with exhaust from the train’s diesel engine filling the carriage periodically.  We were lucky our station was the 2nd stop, so we did indeed get a seat.  Anyone paying for second-class with stops beyond Weligama, did not get a seat.

Rita feeling lucky in her seat. Later the aisles were completely jammed with travelers.  Sorry for the fuzz, the train was fiercely jolting!

These two seats need to be vacated if a member of the clergy climbs on board. No discrimination, it applies to the clergy of any religious group!

And then there is the three-wheeler, the cheap and quick mode of transport that whizzes thousands of people from A to B throughout every urban community across Sri Lanka.

The three-wheelers drive in between trucks and cars, and squeeze themselves along sidewalks (if they exist).  Definitely not for the faint-hearted.

We also traveled by air-conditioned car with Sameera, who managed to avoid any tips or crashes in the over 20 hours of driving over the course of a few days.  No photo of the car but this is Sameera with Rita and I at the side of the road, introducing Rita to the health benefits of king coconut water – delish!

Sameera (l) before we said farewell to him in Mirissa

And this little puppy’s mode of transport is his owner’s bicycle.  No, I did not take this picture, it has an animal in it after all – photo credit for this one goes to Rita!

Cute puppy at Peacock Villas, Mirissa

A big regret we have is not having a photo of us with the jeep in Yala National Park, darnnit.

About Kate Coffey

After 30 or so years in the investment management industry, 2013 saw me turn my life up-side-down, making my way first to Nepal, then Bangladesh during that first ‘year away’. The year took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and its people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located in Bhainsepati - 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Saanga foothills. Since 2014, I have returned to SIRC numerous times, working closely with the folks there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. In the past two years, my work in Nepal has expanded to the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation and the Spinal Cord Injured Network Nepal. In Bangladesh I marvelled at the strength and resilience of marginalized women who have the courage and audacity to break the rules and make a better life for themselves and their children through microfinance programs with BRAC. 2016-2017 saw me embark on a totally new experience in Sri Lanka, a place I never would have chosen to end up in. It’s the 40C+ heat, big humidity and tropical snakes & animals that scared me! But I ended up love love loving! my time there, working with predominantly Tamil small business owners in remote villages in the north and east of the country, trying their best to recover their businesses and the lives of their employees, after decades of a civil war. My time in Sri Lanka made me realize my hard-earned business skills and experience can really be put to good use! The work the BIZ+ team and I did there ended up earning me International Volunteer of the Year Award in December 2017, presented on Capitol Hill, Washington DC no less. I am currently home on Bowen Island, in the west coast of Canada, shoring up my finances before I head off to who knows where, for my next expert volunteer assignment. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2013-2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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6 Responses to Getting around in Sri Lanka

  1. Becky Dawson says:

    What a RIDE in life KC! I’m happy you have a visitor to show your ‘terroir’ 😉 at times!
    becky on bowen listening to many birdies this morn while drinking delicious coffee with creamo in the sun xo

  2. Mick Canning says:

    Yes, done all those (except the bicycle!). I always thought that buses and trains were reasonably uncrowded and comfortable compared with their Indian equivalents!

  3. Cep Carty says:

    Great blog Kate. You sound like you are in great form! And Rita looks like she had a ball. Take care. Cep xxx

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