Sri Lanka formerly Ceylon is a tiny island nation south of India in the Indian Ocean, a rugged land of rainforest, diverse wildlife and endless beaches. It’s famed for its ancient Buddhist ruins. -Wikipedia
Booking a Flight
Sri Lanka is my third solo travel and I would say that I had a wonderful five days going around the surrounding countryside. And it is safe. When I booked my ticket online, a reminder from the airline says like this: to those who will travel to Colombo (and other cities were mentioned) should be part of a group.”
That reminder sounds like a warning to me. However, I was determined to visit Sri Lanka.
But to be honest, I had my fears and doubt after that. Is it not really safe to travel solo in Sri Lanka?
I felt anxious but what worries me more is that the airline or immigration will not allow me to board the plane if they’ll know that I am going to Sri Lanka by myself. How would I know if I wouldn’t try? But I prepared some solution in case I will be asked if I am with somebody.
I phoned my host from Kandy requesting him to just say that I have a group waiting in Sri Lanka if in case I would be asked. Another question I had to ask him if it is safe that I would go there alone. And this was the reply, “You were born and came to this world alone, what are you afraid of?”
I laughed at the reply and yet it gave me enough courage to go to Sri Lanka.
Securing a Visa
Sri Lanka offers a visa-on-arrival for 40 USD for Philippine passport holders like me. However, I suggest processing online the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) on their websitefor 35 USD. I have received mine thru email in less than 5 hours after processing.
Flight with Air Arabia
With not much question, I boarded the plane of Air Arabia from Sharjah, UAE last March 15, 2016 nighttime. Early in the morning the next day, I was already at Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo.
Public Transportation in Sri Lanka
Aiming to save money, I decided that I will take public transportation instead of arranging the transfer. My host already instructed me how will I reach Kandy from the airport. This was a very brave decision from someone who always gets lost and with a very poor sense of direction.
I decided to take a Colombo to Kandy Train.
And yes, I ended up regretting that decision. I’m still not ready to go by myself.
In spite of the very simple instruction from my host, I still got lost, overcharged by a tuktuk driver, took me to a very far train station and I was very exhausted.
He didn’t take me to Colombo to Kandy Train. Instead, it was Veyangoda to Kandy.
Veyangoda to Kandy
I reached the train station at around 7 am. But the train going to Kandy will come at 9:10 am. With the stress, fatigue and anxiety that I have to deal with in an unfamiliar place, all I wanted to do at that time is to sleep.
I purchased a second-class seat for 140 LKR but when the train comes, I just get inside the train unknowingly it was the third-class area. I should have to be fine but it was very crowded and no place to seat.
And I was there, standing, tired and sleepy on my first train ride in Sri Lanka.
I was praying to the Almighty to send me help.
Most men were sitting while there were few ladies who were also standing. It took around 40 minutes until one gentleman offered his seat. He was calling somebody from my direction and thanks God it was me he was referring to. He was going down at the station and he didn’t leave his seat until I came.
There were two older ladies who were standing, good manners were telling me to offer the seat. But not at that time, that seat was meant for me. Two more long hours left to travel.
I fall asleep in between and was able to recharge. My senses have awakened and able to appreciate things.
The sound of the train gives a nostalgic feeling of going back to the old times going to a far unknown place. It feels like I’m a character of a movie traveling to a place full of mystery. Or I might be dreaming at that time.
But the sound of screeching machines and frictions are real. The shaky movement and the train whistle blowing gave me the mixed emotion of excitement and fear of what experience awaits.
Am I riding the right train? How will I know which station I would go down? I have lots of apprehensions. These doubts slowly faded and I am already consumed by the beauty outside the window of lush green trees and plantations.
The train also passes by cliffs and dark tunnels. Some teenage passengers were screaming upon passing thru those totally dark tunnels. I thought there was an emergency. Later, I realized they are doing it for fun.
Vendors come and go. They sell bottled water, sliced fruits like guava and pineapple, snacks and even hot coffee.
The trains and railways are old but they offer one of the cheapest form of transportation in Sri Lanka. It can also provide us the liberty to explore the country and discover its beauty.
Finally, after approximately 3 hours the train stopped at Kandy Station. I took tuktuk and it dropped me in front of the hostel.
At least, I was able to reach my destination after I messed up my planned Colombo to Kandy Train.
I dozed off with a good two-hour sleep after being welcomed by the host, map handed to me and was ushered into an air-conditioned room.
SEE ALSO: Wandering Around Kandy Lake
(I originally posted this post in my WordPress account before.)