So on Sunday, when the sun came out again after a whole week of pouring rain at the beach, I made my way up to Colombo. I took the train from Matara to Colombo. For a few stations I had some company of a dude in kaftan who invited me to live with him in Matara. He had an instant crush on me, and actually looked like he Sri Lankan version of an ex of me. When he got off the train, he even stood at the platform waving after me when the train moved on. In Colombo I organised a tuk tuk to my hostel. i was very proud of myself to bargain because of course the tuk tuks at the stations always take outrageous prices of stupid tourists. So the firstdriver wanted 700 rupees but I knew the place was not far so i said no thanks and walked to the next. I finally found somebody who took me there for 400 rupees. I was quite proud because usually bargaining is not my strong point. And then the lady at the hostel said it should have cost only 200 rupee! Oh well, I tried.
The hostel was nice, and I shared the room woth an older French-American couple that had the same goalas me - extending the visa.
I went out to get some food and found a little local place where they served rice and curry on plates that were covered with plastic foil. Good food though. I had a little stroll around but Colombo didn't seem to have to offer much. Christmas carols at the supermarket reminded me that it was indeed already December - you tend to forget in tropical heat.
The next morning we got up early. We had a plan, taking the bus super early to the office of immigration because we had heard it takes a looong time to succeed at this visa business. Our plan failed a bit when we saw all the busses were full as full can be - of course it was rush hour and everybody on the way to work. So we grabbed a tuk tuk. It took us 1,5 hours in the morning traffic for the roughly 4 km during which i inhaled more monodioxide than in the past 10 years.
But finally we made it, rushed into the office to the 4th floor where already lots of other foreigners were waiting and grabbed a number. The whole process was moremellow than I had expected, and only took 2,5 hours. You wait, then you wait at another place,then a grumpy dude takes your application paper and passport, you wait again,then you pay, then you wait again at another spot, and finally somebody is calling out your number and you get your passport with a nice new visa extension. Easy.
Grabbed a tuk tuk baxk to myhostel to pick up my luggage and then to the train station, or better the lush and posh Cinnamon hotel near the train station where I was to meet my friend Rahul. He had arrived in Colombo the same day, and we planned to travel for a week together in sri lanka. He had just traveled for 5 months and had done some serious trekking in Nepal and some Dengue Fever in Thailand. While I was enduring the Sri Lankan burocracy he just had a lush massage at the spa of the Cinnamon hotel while he was waiting for me.
my poor tuk tuk driver in the meantime didn't even know where this posh hotel was. Finally we arrived and I walked into the lobby, all sweaty and dusty with my big backpack. Fair enough, the fancy staff treated me very nicely instead of kicking me out immediately.
I hadn't seen Rahul in about 2 years. We had a little drink at the hotel bar and then made our way to the train station to catch the train to Kandy.
The train journey was very nice. The trains and train stations in Sri Lanka are so colonial and old fashioned, it is travelling in style.
We stood for a while in the open train door watching the bbeautifull landscape rushing by and Rahul started telling me first stories about what thos week was about to become : a love story of food! He is an absolute foodie and food hunter and a world traveler so wherever he goes he tries to find the best local authentic foods possible. I was about to gain somuch knowledge about Asian food this coming week - and probably ten pounds.
We arrived in Kandy in the dark, took a tuk tuk to our guesthouse which was abit outside of the town and got greeted by a bright Christmas tree at the porch. Dinner was served and was the most beautiful buffet of traditional home made Sri Lankan rice and curry, lit up with candle light and served in clay pots.
The start of a great foodie week.