Being backpackers, we are always looking for the most cost effective way to get around. Public bus was by far the cheapest mode of transport in Hanoi so we decided to use it to get us to the airport. It took us over two hours to get there but we made it just in time for check-in!
Our first flight was with Vietnam Airlines and it was full of surprises. We received exit row seats along with a meal and free alcohol – something we just weren’t used to, flying with Jetstar. It was one of the best flights we’ve been on and it only got better from there! Our next flight was with Sri Lankan Airlines and instead of exit row seats, we received a blanket, pillow, free entertainment, meal and alcohol. There was also wifi but we were too scared to turn our data on to use it.
When we arrived in Colombo we thought we would be able to exchange our leftover Vietnamese currency into Sri Lankan Rupees. It turns out that Vietnamese Dong is pretty much worthless outside of Vietnam and no one will exchange it. Luckily we remembered that we had 20USD leftover after paying for our visa so this was all we could use to get us to our hostel. We couldn’t afford a taxi so we had to look for another option; not the easiest task at midnight. At the end of the airport was a “public bus” that agreed to take us to the city centre for $3 – perfect! The ride took over an hour to get to the city centre where we then had to get a tuk tuk to our hostel. After an entire day of travel, our bunk beds never felt so good.
My first thoughts of Sri Lanka have been nothing but positive. The weather’s cooler and less humid than South East Asia, the people are super friendly and there aren’t that many tourists about. We caught a .25c bus into the city so we could explore the town. We stumbled across some markets selling local spices and fresh produce on Pettah Street. The smells coming from the spice market were incredible and there were bags of chilli everywhere!
Coming to Sri Lanka meant trying the local food. For me this was going to be interesting because I don’t like Indian cuisine and I’d heard Sri Lankan food is very similar to Indian. I will always try something but if I don’t like it, I simply won’t eat it again (unless it’s pig’s intestines chased with rice wine). To my own surprise, I have been really enjoying the food – yay! It is very common to not receive cutlery in Sri Lankan eateries as they all eat with their hands. For me this was a rather fun and enjoyable experience but for Derek, not so much, he could not wait to wash his hands.
After a full day or exploring the city, it was time to relax and organise ourselves for our first train to Kandy.