A Road Trip in Sri Lanka – The Island Nation

A Road Trip in Sri Lanka – The Island Nation

“Sri Lanka is my neighbouring country and within proximity to reach. I can start my journey from Sri Lanka.”

That is what I thought when I started thinking about starting my year-long travel project at the beginning of the year 2022.

The Teardrop Island, The Pearl Island or The Island Nation – is Sri Lanka.

For many days Sri Lanka was in my mind as Sri Lanka offers one of the most scenic train journeys, and I wanted to take that journey to tick off one more train journey from my bucket list.

To provide a brief introduction, at the end of 2021, I left my job after the sudden demise of my father to take care of my mother’s ill health. However, she recovered fast with timely and proper treatment and care. By the middle of January 2022, mom had fully recovered and went back to our village home. At that time, I decided to start travelling full-time for one or two years. I have been thinking about travelling more for years and seeing many more countries. I wanted to risk leaving my professional life and living my passion. I do not want to make the mistake of not trying to pursue my dream and have regrets later. So here I am sharing my experiences travelling to different countries after leaving my job. The journey that I have chosen is not easy but enriching.

At the beginning of 2022, when OMICRON was ruling the world, few travellers like me wanted to ditch it. I found that even with the threat from OMICRON looming around all of us, Sri Lanka kept its international border open to the entire world with quarantine restrictions for a few countries and unvaccinated visitors. The land welcomed the rest of the world and its fully vaccinated visitors.

After the 2019 Sweden and Norway Backpacking Trip, I was desperate to travel and start my travel project. When I found out Sri Lanka was open, I booked my flight ticket at the lowest price possible. I was lucky because no one was travelling due to COVID-19 and the latest variants, OMICRON. However, I was determined to travel.

In a few days, I had arranged for everything, starting from obtaining VISA permission, accommodation, transportation, and train tickets. Because I was travelling after almost two and half years, I was a bit less confident, and I booked everything before my journey and decided to go on a road trip to Sri Lanka rather than a backpacking trip.

23rd January 2022 was the day to be remembered as I started my journey as a full-time traveller. It was a long-awaited plan. Now I was in it. I was going to live it.

So, unexpectedly, everything went very smoothly in Kolkata at the airport. So it was for Chennai international airport, except I had a long layover at Chennai Airport. Hence, I had to spend time outside sipping the famous ‘Madras Coffee’ one after another.

Like Kolkata airport, everything went exceptionally well, from check-in to boarding at Chennai International Airport. It was the first time I visited Chennai International Airport, and compared to Delhi and Mumbai International Airport, I felt it was much quieter and more peaceful. However, my flight time was at 00:40 AM so the scene could be very different during peak hours. At midnight, I flew off and landed at Colombo airport around 2.30 AM. After the immigration check, I waited for some hours to get closure to the morning time, and I spent the time in the Colombo Food Court with a cup of coffee and a sandwich. Around 4 AM, my tour organiser sent the car, and I was transported to my hostel, C1 Colombo Fort.

January 24, 2022 – Hello from Colombo.

I reached my hostel C1 Colombo Fort, around 4 AM and entered my mixed dormitory room like a thief while all the people were sleeping, and one of them was snoring like a lion king.

I sneaked up into my bunk bed, and I fell asleep instantly.

Morning, I woke up on time even after I slept late as Mom wanted to talk to me. So once she got satisfied after talking to me and seeing me lying on my bed, I started thinking about who will be my roommates. It was a mixed dorm. Hence I was expecting couples, and I was a solo traveller. So I was thinking about my answer if they asked me about my partner. I was unsure what could be a good answer, or maybe I would say I was always a solo backpacker. I think that sounds good and very bold. I had never stayed in any mixed dormitory before, so I prepared myself with all the common questions and probable answers.

I peeped through my blanket, and in the soft morning light passing through the bamboo curtains, I could see my room now. It had eight bunk beds. Six of them were occupied, including me.

Opposite my bed, I saw a muscular hand hanging outside the bed. And in bed next to mine, another guy was sleeping. I couldn’t see anyone right below my bed.

I closed my eyes under the soft blanket, thinking about my travel life and this hostel life. I was happy with what I had done so far in my life. It’s unique as per our culture. In India, women do not travel much as solo travellers. At my age of 45, 90% of women in India are supposed to take care of their husbands, kids and several other family members. We can’t imagine travelling, leaving everything behind and staying in hostels. I was happy, and now I know I have a different life, a life which is unique and adventurous.

I fell asleep again due to tiredness. Around 11 AM with a heavy male voice, I woke up and sat on my bed to understand what had happened. Well, still with my sleepy and dreamy eyes, I could see two guys talking about their yesterday’s gyming experiences at a local gym in Colombo. I looked straight ahead and understood they were my two roommates. They looked at me, too, and we wished each other Good Morning.

A tall young guy stood up from the bed underneath my bunk, and his head was right in front of me. He looked at me like a ghost. It seemed he hit the bed late at night; till then upper bunk was empty. His twisted eye-brow said it all, what he was thinking that moment.

Meanwhile, the occupants from the other two beds also got up, and none were girls. First time in my life, I was in a mixed dormitory, and all my roommates were male. I couldn’t stop laughing myself seeing the whole situation. But we were all excellent, introduced each other, and started our day nicely.

David from Sweden, a big guy with a half-shaved hairstyle, looked keen on self-grooming. He kept all his men’s grooming creams, gels, and shampoo lined up in the window panel, and it was an excellent display of all the products.

Jimmy, from California, was a muscular guy who seemed addicted to Gyming. Since he woke up, he was only talking about his Gym session. He had nice shoulder-length blunt hair of golden colour, and he loved to make a pony with colourful ribbons. I liked his style too.

A reticent, sober, and shy type of guy was Adil from Mumbai, India. He was on a business trip in Sri Lanka. He frequently travelled to Sri Lanka and toured almost all corners of the island nation.

And the other roommate who snores like a lion king was a Chinese guy. He was from Hong Kong and was there for some official work, staying for a long time, and couldn’t speak English. No one knew anything about him.

They were all my roommates, and I would stay with these guys for the next two days. I was super glad about this all-new experience of my life.

Anyway, for the first day in Colombo, I decided to go nowhere but to relax and concentrate on my trip planning.

So, I chilled the whole morning, sitting on the balcony and soaking myself in the bright sunshine. Sri Lanka, in January, was quite hot, and the temperature was much higher than in winter Kolkata. Also, for the last two and half years, due to COVID, we have kept ourselves quarantined at home to avoid crowds and getting infected. As a result, my body was less exposed to sunlight for many days and lacked essential vitamin D.

On the first day in Colombo, I took the opportunity to soak myself in as much sunlight as possible. I concentrated on my itinerary for the entire road trip to Sri Lanka. As I was working on my plan, I kept noticing guests were coming in and leaving. They were all travellers and came from different parts of the world. We were winning over COVID, and the world was opening up again.

I loved the vibrant mood and the environment of C1 Colombo Fort.

To be continued.

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