I recently went to Sri Lanka with my younger nephew who is also known as Brat 2. Of course there is a Brat 1, his elder brother, and there are two more, Brats 3 and 4. Brat 3 is my niece and 4 my daughter. The numbering is according to the age, Brat 1 being eldest and Brat 4 is the youngest. It is difficult to say who is the biggest brat of them all. The first time we traveled together it was Brat 1 and 2 with my husband I and we trekked through Goa. At that point I was taller than Brat 2 and he is 6 feet 3 now! Both of them were in school then.
I have a theory, the kids who start speaking late try to make it up for the rest of their lives. Brat 2 and my daughter both fall in that category. Brat 2 started speaking quiet late and so did Brat 4, Chhavi. And now both of them can talk to themselves! Brat 3 (my niece) also is on the quieter side and I shudder to think when she tries to catch up.
The last Brat 1, 2 and I traveled together was to Barog in 2009, they were college students then. Now both of them work! I had almost forgotten what fun it is to travel with them.
Brat 2 and I at Galle, Sri Lanka
At Sri Lanka almost all the time there was a constant chatter next to me! As I said he can talk to himself if need be and a topic is not necessary! And when I went to Shillong right after it, it was way too quiet for my liking. I actually like peace and quiet. I can happily be by myself but traveling on one trip after the other, one with a chatter box and one without, brought out a different perspective.
Brat 2 has done an internship in Russia and on the Unawatuna roads he would often say to me, “Bua that person is a Russian.” He said it so many times that I got openly skeptical!
Prakash, The Boatman at Koggala Lake, Sri Lanka
Then came a boat ride where the young lad who steered the boat told us, “Ninety percent of the tourists in this region are Russian. And I am learning Russian.” And after that I just had it, he kept telling me, “Why would you believe me? It has to be another person who has to say the same.”
Brat 1 has yet not got a passport neither has Brat 4 but one day I want to travel with all the four and see how it goes! Hopefully I will still have some black hair on my head after such a trip. In the end I have to traveling with chatter boxes is a lot of fun!
I never thought exchanging Indian rupees would turn out to be such an adventure in Sri Lanka. I was carrying Indian rupees and some British pounds left over from previous trips to UK. I have a credit card and a debit card that work internationally. I thought this was enough for me to survive in Sri Lanka. I was right on every count except for the ease of changing Indian rupees. I am a little surprised as Indian rupees exchanges favorably with Sri Lankan rupees. You get anywhere from 1.90 to 2.20 Sri Lankan rupees for every Indian rupee.
Our first stop for trying to change the Indian rupees was the Bandarnaike International Airport . My nephew went in search for the hotel taxi that we had booked and I went to exchange money. I casually said, “can I change some Indian rupees?” And I was really surprised when I got to hear, “Sorry ma’am we don’t change Indian rupees, you can change it in the city.” The problem was we were not going to the city but straight to Unawatuna. Then I asked him to change some British pounds and that he readily did.
Galle, Sri Lanka
Galle is a big city near Unawatuna, it is approximately 8.5 kilometers away. We headed there on our second day and we were having a late snack in a restaurant near the fort (which is ruins of the fort actually) area. We asked if we could exchange Indian rupees anywhere in the city? And the young boy who was waiting on our table said he would exchange it but only 5K, they didn’t have more than that at the moment! I was reminded of Shantaram and the illegal money trade in Mumbai but I did went ahead and exchanged the money. We got the rate of 2.20 and I was not complaining.
Then my nephew tried to change the money at the bank at Unawatuna and once again he was told that they would exchange pounds but not Indian rupees! I wonder what was the reason. Informally we were told by many people that the jewellery shops would exchange money. I wonder why this was the case.
Matara, Sri Lanka
Our last try was to try and exchange money at a jewellery shop at Matara, another big city but we once again got a blank. They told us of other places that would exchange Indian rupees but we had money so we did not try any further. In the end my nephew did exchange Indian rupees at a jewellery shop in Unawatuna but overall this made for a strange experience.
I don’t think this would happen in a city like Colombo but it is beyond me that the airport and the bank didn’t exchange Indian rupee when a lot of cars/trucks on the Sri Lankan roads are Indian!
If you are visiting Sri Lanka from India you will find a lot of similarities. On our way to Unawatuna we found countless Tata and Ashok Leyland buses playing on the streets. There are Bajaj Autos, and I spotted an Alto parked right at the airport. This post is about my Sri Lanka first impressions!
Unawatuna, Sri Lanka
I also spotted Kajol and Katrina looking out from various hoardings in the city. The traffic from the airport till the various places we crossed was heavy and chaotic, another reminder of India. But I seriously thought the traffic sense was less harsh than Indians. Sri Lankans do honk in the city but they do not cut off each-other which the same jest as people in Delhi.
Flowers at the Hotel, Sri Lanka
But once we reached the expressway, the taxi driver didn’t honk even once! The vehicles would follow each other at a safe distance and overtake with a lot of consideration. It is a two lane expressway but the experience was very nice. The route is also quite scenic and completely green. It was just that we were very tired as we started from Delhi quite early and took a connecting flight from Chennai after a long gap.
Galle, Sri Lanka
I also thought one section of the beach at Unawatuna is full of tourists and the locals use it a little further ahead and they remain quite separate. I wonder how this is achieved as the tourist beach is full of women in bikinis and yet the locals do not come this side. I wonder if this is possible in India.
Sunset from the Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka
I also find the hotel staff at Unawatuna polite in general. We by now have had meals at different places and I found the people very polite and soft spoken. We already feel that our stay is too short.
If you are planning to go Sri Lankan Immigration has introduced ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) in 2012 in order to facilitate tourism in Sri Lanka. Foreigners, including Indian nationals, need to have a valid ETA prior to the trip. ETA can be obtained online and it is easy to obtain. You need to have passport, credit card and access to internet.
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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