I’m in Colombo! After a long flight I’m now in the back of truck on my way to the hotel. I repeat, a truck. And it takes us an hour to get to the hotel.
Five people are patiently waiting to greet me when I arrive. They’ve also made a welcome drink for me which, by the look of it, consists of only food colouring. It’s really pink. Feeling pressured and the fear of not being allowed to check in unless I down this concoction. I go for it. Wow, if food colouring were to have one flavour, this would be it! I smile and say ‘Delicious, thank you!’
I get an upgrade and get escorted to my suite. There’s just one thing on my mind; a shower. Within five minutes I’m back in my room and while I’d told myself I’d go to bed early, I find myself full of energy wanting to explore the city. I tell myself this is my only night in Colombo and it’d be a pity to waste it.
I grab my camera and run downstairs. I arrange for a tuk tuk to drive me around town for about an hour. However, I realise through my search that I’m asking for something unusual when it takes me a lot of attempts to fully clarify my request. No, I do not want to go somewhere in particular, I do not want to buy souvenirs, or enter temples. I just want to be driven around while I soak in the beautiful, vivid sights around me. I’m not your typical tourist. It takes me a while but finally I find a man with the courage to take on my somewhat strange request. Haha. It’s cloudy and dusk lures above the city. I’m sitting in the back of the tuk tuk and – whoosh there we go. This is more dangerous than the truck that picked me up at the airport. Repeat: more dangerous. The sounds of cars and busses honking at us fades in my mind. All I can see are the beautiful women, walking in colourful sarees, amongst the tiny shops and tailors, trying to sell their venture. I feel like a bird, flying around in my tuk tuk in the splendid streets of Colombo.
We drive past the beach and the smell of food catches my attention. So good. From afar I can see the small stalls, all selling freshly made food. I’m glad I decided to go out tonight instead of staying in. I might not have seen it all, but I still feel like I accomplished capturing the true, pure Colombo within all my senses. I ask my driver if he could stop so I can go take a look. He does, and I walk onto the beach. I think I just entered a food festival! I buy banana leaves filled with warm, welcoming curry for me and my driver start eating my part of it while walking back along the beach.It’s almost dark, making it time for me to return to my hotel. I jump in the tuk tuk and we speed back.
Honestly, I’m still hungry upon my return to the hotel so I decide to go explore its massiveness in search of a restaurant. I find myself in a gigantic, chilly place, the latter caused by the air-conditioning being set so arctic, that even I feel cold. It’s empty, although there are about 200 seats. Eight employees stare at me. Hi. Sooo…
The awkwardness of the situation embarrases me, making me want to turn around. The thought of me out in the darkness looking for food makes me stay. So I sit and smile. The thought of the whole situation makes me laugh inside. And thus I stick to my favourite travel motto: say yes. So I go for it. I look at the menu. They have a lot of choice, but I go safe by choosing the ‘local’ part of it. Otherwise I might fall ill. I order curry and for €5 my table is filled with food. It smells exquisite. I order a beer and get about 2 pints. It costs €3. I toast with myself, to new adventures, flavours and people. I love it.
After dinner, the hotel offers me a free foot massage, which, you guessed it, I accept. Say yes, remember? Plus, my feet are still recovering from the journey, so this is perfect timing. After half an hour of relaxation I walk back to my room. I’ll stay up a bit longer to fight the jet lag, I tell myself, and out of excitement for tomorrow, I succeed. I can’t wait! Tea, here I come!