We set off for KLIA2 and the 3hr 6min flight to Colombo with a good friend of mine from back home, Stuart Savage. Savo as he is known, had been staying at our apartment for the past couple of days and was heading to Langkawi before Penang, Singapore and finally New Zealand where he hopes to find employment.
For entry into Sri Lanka (or Ceylon as it was once called) you require an ETA (electronic visa). These were very easy to get even fro Aida $20 from the website. Approval was given in a matter of minutes. So for Iranians, Sri Lanka is an easy country to get in compared to some in Asia, no visits to Embassies. The fact that they charge Brits to enter is a pain, especially as they are part of the Commonwealth but I guess this is their way of making money and getting one over the British!
One of the things that many forums were asked is: When/how do I exchange money? Well the answer is easy. Once you arrive in the Country, then exchange. The Sri Lankan Rupee is a closed currency so getting it outside of SL is going to cost you immensely. Bring your own currency. Do not listen to these agents who say you have to bring USD. I took Malaysian Ringgit and if I were coming from the UK I would have brought GBP. If travelling direct from Iran I would probably bring USD as Iran’s currency is also closed.
Anyway, once we exchanged the money we headed outside and looked for our Guide/Driver Bandu. I had been to Sri Lanka once before (just Colombo and Sigiraya) and found travelling around extremely difficult. You could get taxis and their own tuk tuks but I always felt I was getting ‘ripped off’, therefore I cut my trip short and went back to Kuwait (where I was working at the time). On pricing up my itinerary it came to around $500 for two people getting taxi’s, trains and buses. The quote from Bandu was $570 and he would take us everywhere, which saves all the hassle of finding train stations etc. His car was a nice Nissan Saloon and he was younger than I imagined (same age as me) and his English was good so all worked out well.
I had designed our itinerary with the help of using Intrepid and G Adventures Itineraries (similar trips where $1800 p/p on their websites). With 11 days and use of a car we could adapt as possible, the more miles we used, the more the cost would be. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Sri Lanka where hosting England Cricket in 7 ODI’s so I quickly added a game to the itinerary, but the rest was a combination of cities’, countryside, wildlife and adventure with the first stop being Kandy.
Chris 7/10 Aida 8/10