He got burnt out. The only human being I know who possesses otherworldy patience broke down for the first time. The constant moving had taken its toll.
Not only that... he was dismayed with being constantly ripped off, the abhoring pricey admission fees, and the uber spicy food which caused us tears (and additional order on drinks) all the time.
But hey, we're already too familiar with all sorts of travel upsets and mishaps so there is really no harm done here. On the flip side this country's got a handful of redeeming factors: Infectious smiles, free New Year leftover cakes, engaging conversations, Couchsurfing hosts-slash-public transport mavens, cream colored shores that stretch as far as the eyes could see, dense jungles and 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites (some of which have been around since 1st century BC!).
These are the fab five sites we were able to step foot on:
We ended the trip lazing on the beach to reward our weary selves (although after which we endured yet another exhausting train ride, stood for two hours in a packed cabin).
So yeah, Sri Lanka's got mind-blowing sites and all... how about the budget? We spent Rs 15,897 or P6,223 each excluding plane tickets (and souvenirs, I bought tons!). A far cry from our P2,590 expense per person in India.
But then it's quite unfair to compare the two because first and foremost, almost all of the sites we visited in India didn't charge admission fees. For Sri Lanka, such fees ate a large chunk of our budget. Second, we hired a few tuk-tuks to shuttle us to and fro the sites instead of taking buses and hiking just so to make our five-day itinerary doable. The damage brought about by admission fees and tuk-tuk rides is Rs 8,030 or P3,143. Half of the entire budget. And lastly the cities we visited, like I mentioned earlier, are hours apart. Two hours, four hours, eight and a half hours... Transferring from one distant place to another made us spend a fair bit on public rides.
I loved Sri Lanka, but Shervin's right. We shouldn't have pushed ourselves up to breaking point. On the way home, at Kuala Lumpur's LCC Terminal, I felt like my body was about to crash (and we waited for almost ten hours for our Manila bound flight). Our experience unfortunately didn't live up to the country's tourism tag line "Refreshingly Sri Lanka". But that's just us. Hope this doesn't happen to you guys as well.
Trip's Nitty Gritty
1. We spent P10,854 each for 4 flights. Manila-KL, KL-Colombo, Colombo-KL, KL-Manila. As usual, the tickets were on sale when we bought them.
2. At the time of our travel, 1 peso is equivalent to .40 Sri Lankan Rupees (symbol: Rs, LKR)
3. Their electric sockets/plugs also have three round prongs, same as India's. 230V.
4. Calling code is +94. Domestic call from landline to mobile phone is only Rs 5 for 1 minute at kiosks. Phone booths require coins or call cards. International call charge varies.
5. Most expensive admission fee we paid, Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Rs 3,330 or P1,303.
6. Meals in small street canteens Rs 100-200, depends on the cashier's mood. Like, if he or she feels like ripping you off or not. Sorry if I sound too bitter about this. One canteen charged us Rs 900+ for a meal (ONE meal) that's been reheated a hundred times and came with a free diarrhea-causing bacteria.
A liter of bottled water starts at Rs 60, beach front restos sell for Rs 90.
When buying drinks or snacks, look for the MRP (maximum retail price) printed on the bottle or wrapper/label to check if the store is overcharging.
7. Tuk-tuk rides start at Rs 60 but drivers usually charge tourists Rs 100 for short distances. A lot of them agree on a haggled price, just be reasonable!
8. As for bus rides, Rs 15 for short distances (about 4 KM). For intercity ones, Rs 265 for 4 hours in a mini bus or coaster. Sometimes they charge about the same for half the distance because they already got a pre-printed ticket stating such price. Non-aircon big bus charges Rs 77 for two hours but be prepared to stand (be groped/pushed around) the whole time!
9. A two-hour train ride is Rs 180 for 2nd class, Rs 390 for eight and a half hours. Again, be prepared to stand the whole time!
10. Bandaranaike International Airport is 35 KM out of Colombo. Public transport is easy, will expound on how to get there and away on the next article.
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