We came to Sri Lanka because we could - part of our “if you’re flying all that way you might as well see it all” philosophy. Looking at the map of our route, we have only scratched the surface. And now that we have scratched, we wish we were staying longer. Many Europeans come here for the fabulous beaches which are south of Colombo. We did not even see them. We would come back to safari in some of the national parks, where animals still abound. Sri Lanka has been off the tourist map for a long, long time - first for the lengthy war and then for the damage it sustained in the 2004 Christmas tsunami, where at least 65,000 people died here. We will never forget the footage of the long train being swept into the ocean by the strong waves.
For our last night here we stayed in a colonial era down town hotel, much too nice for dirty, sweaty people like us. We had a multi course dinner with wine to die for and a breakfast which included smoked salmon and bagels. It is already quite clear that the weight we thought we might lose in this curry filled land is not going anywhere.
The trip to the airport took forever. The new expressway opens tomorrow and will improve the lot of tour guides. The airport was modern, well marked and organized. Airport security is always a puzzle. We were checked multiple times, each one haphazard and focusing on different things. We were scanned by machine when entering the gate area and manually searched before the jetway. That one made no sense. After we went into the gate lounge, we were not allowed to leave again. The plane was not full and we had plenty of elbow room. The one hour flight went by in the blink of an eye.
In Chennai we were met by Charles, our next guide. Chennai is India’s fourth largest city with a million more people than metro Chicago. Although we flew north 500 miles, the climate is still sultry. Chennai is getting a metro with two lines and 32 stops; the construction has devastated the streets. The ten mile trip from the airport to the hotel took an hour. As we drove Ken asked Charles where he could buy a sim card for is Ipad. Charles whipped out his wallet and loaned him one. After he installed it he phoned whoever he had to phone to load 4gb of data on the card for only $12, a quarter of the price we would pay at home. This means that whenever we have no internet, sketchy internet, or the hotel charges way too much (all three have already occurred on this trip), I can tether to his Ipad and be on the web along with Ken. Way cool! Ken is ready to move to India!