I remember when we arrived in Sri Lanka, the airport was far from the town Colombo, where we have decided to sleep and booked our hostel. We took a taxi, it was the night, my friend and I were tired by this long travel from India.
We have booked the YMCA hostel cause there was just this option on our budget (small budget). A night here and we will explore this country.
After one hour of drive, we arrived to this hotel. We were surprised by the building : hudge, empty, old. A old man was here at the end of the entrance, to welcome us. We were at the good location. He was 10PM, after few formalities, we obtained the keys of our room. Finally we were in Sri Lanka, a new adventure was starting!
This place was not looking like an hostel, a guesthouse, we were climbing the stairs to our room with the receptionist. There was here religious cross everywhere, no doubt, we were in a Catholic institution.
The stairs had almost no light, we met a first man who told us : “God bless you”. He was coming from nowhere, appearing from the dark, shaking his head to welcome us, telling us those words.
And on the second floor, an other man will come to us rushing to say the same words : “God bless you!” What a welcome!!! At each floor men where coming to us ! What a kindness !
Those men where like possessed by god, in an other world, they were looking at us really oddly, staring at us! That was strange and I was not feeling comfortable. I was keeping smiling, but I was asking me where I was landing ?!! What I was doing here ? Was it really the YMCA hostel ? I was not feeling super safe.
I got the impression to be in a sect, even in a psychiatric hospital. I was telling me : In which adventure I was still embarked ?
Why they were praying and saying “hello” to us with their special words : “God Bless you”! ? Maybe that was the way to say “Hi” in this country!?
I was looking to my friend and she was also really surprised of this welcome.
The receptionist was showing us our room, happy to show the beautiful room he booked for us. He told us : ” That’s OK? If you need something, don’t hesitate, I am here, you are here home !”
Well mannered, we answered with a fake smile : “That’s prefect, thank you very much !”
The room was a room with a clean double bed, that was ok. Even, of course, the decoration was on the theme : “God bless you”, we were surrounded by Jesus portraits, religious cross and a bible was on the nightstand in case we had a sudden urge to read a chapter and find the sleep easily.
This room was perfect at one detail, the door!! Of course it was possible to lock the door, and we had the keys, but the door was perforated ! What a good idea to have a bit of fresh air and the possibility for our neighbours to watch us.
So it was possible to see us from outside! We didn’t wait long to put a curtain on this door : a bath towel for more privacy!
Toilets and showers were on the landing. We will have a look. Our idea to take a shower will change, they were dirty and impossible to lock them. We will take our precautions to not have to come back to the toilets during the night.
Cause what it was unpleasant here, was not the services of this hostel, but the strange atmosphere there was here.
On the corridors and from our room, we were hearing screams, strange noises… At first I was thinking that because I am too tired, I became a bit crazy, and maybe these voices, screams are in my head, my imagination. But my friend was hearing the same voices, screams!
An atmosphere really strange, special, a bit scary…
The idea to visit this hostel or to sympatize with our neighbors was gone…
We were reassuring us, telling us, that’s just for a night, for few hours now, that’s better than sleeping outside.
Of course we double locked our door. The night will be shirt, we will not sleep a lot, and we were woken up at each little noise we heard, not really serene, hiding on our blankets.
We will not stay long here, and at the first light of the sun, we will run away from this strange place.
This first night in Sri Lanka was a unique experience, an unforgettable memory, this hostel staying the most freaky hostel where I slept, of all my adventure.
I remember that the weather was not with us. We had a lot of rain, torrential rain, and a very often grey sky. We were supposed to be at the good season, the dry season. For once, we got no luck.
This rain was limiting our activities and making the landscape not really attractive. We will visit a lot of temples, in the big rain, that was not the best.
But even with this heavy rain, this freaky hostel experience, I have happy memories of this country, with the tea plantations, the train, and the stilt fishermen, really typical.
The tea plantations was covering a big part of the country. This tea : the “Ceylan tea” was a real richness of the country, a little treasure, well known and one of the best tea of the world from here.
In the center of the country, some women with a basket were picking up everyday, the little green leaves of the little trees. “Tic, Tic”, they were picking the leaves with their finger fairy, so quick, one by one, putting them with delicacy in their woven baskets,that they were carrying on their head all the day long with a strap.
I don’t know how many hours they need, how many leaves they need to fill a basket? But they were needed for sure a lot of patience and work for that.
Those women, pickers was hiding behind the trees, difficult to see. One little head was exceeding and you was guessing a tea picker, nicely dressed with multicolours clothes, working by all weather, even in the rain, covering her with a rain cape. A incredible work realised by incredible wowen.
The train, for me, was the best transportation in Sri Lanka.
I love to take the train in general. Here, it was not fast, but it was permitting you to cross the country, the valleys, the tea plantations, and to travel with locals. The train stations had a old British style, the trains were really old. We were so far from the TGV (French train). The doors and windows were opened, we were breathing the fresh air. We were watching all this landscape. Children were playing their head out of the window to touch the tall grass with their hands. Locals were going up and down the train on the way. The train controller were so elegant, wearing a cap and a beautiful unicolor uniform sometimes white, sometimes beige.
From the window it was possible to see pickers, farmers, a stage of life, some street vendors who they were trying to sell food to the passengers when the train was stopped.
I was feeling good and free, we were having the time, we were taking the time.
I remember also this train, cause during our travel, we were stuck on the railway! One hour! Why? We were just blocked by the rain! Our train were sliding on the railway! We were on a curve and the train was skating, sliding…
I got the impression to be like home, when the french train company called SNCF, was telling you : “There is a delay due to the dead leaves falling on the railway! “
It just goes to show train don’t need much to make the train derail. Here it was not the leaves, but this heavy rain that was perturbing the traffic.
It was really suprising we were moving back, maybe you will not believe me, but the train was moving and moving back, it was not able to pass this curve.
He was taking a run up, triping, hesitating, sliding. We were simply stuck. So we will have the time to watch the landscape.
We will have success to pass this point but the operation will be difficult ! Finally all the time something happen on the train, you are never bored!
I remember also these fishermen with this original way of fishing, typical from Sri Lanka, these stilt fishermen, or tightrope fishermen.
On few beaches, it was possible to see a piece of wood on the water, a kind of wooden cross.
These wooden stick was helping the fishermen to sit on the stilt to wait hours on the sun with a hat, a cap, a scarf, with their fishing line on their hands. They were going up on their perchs in the middle of the waves, they were perching above the waves like tightrope artists.
They were not moving a lot, freezing like statues, waiting that our meal come. If a fish was trying to bit the bait, they were catching the fish with a perfectly clear move and were stocking it with the smile in their bag.
That was a really impressive technical, artistic feat, an incredible show they were offering to us. I was not tired to watch them. How could they stay hours on their stick? Without having cramps, without having any trouble? They had probably trained a lot…
So that’s my souvenirs of Sri Lanka, where, you probably saw, I had no photo album. Cause I lost these pics from my Sony New 5 the camera I use on this travel. I don’t know how, certainly a bad manipulation. So these photos are from my second camera I used during this time : a Nikon Coolpix, waterproof. I was using it for the snorkeling session, and sometimes when it was raining, and in Sri Lanka, by luck, that was the case! So these photos that I share with you, are not the best quality, but I love them, cause that the only photos memories I get of this pretty island.
Memories of Sri Lanka, Rainy memories, Happy memories.