Friday, December 30, 2005

Broken Resolution

When I arrived in Singapore some 9 months back I resolved that I would not take any more flights on my trip and return home overland if at all possible. Unfortunately I have had to break that promise I made myself to get to Sri Lanka. One would think that since, at their nearest point, the distance between India and Sri Lanka is less than 50km that there would be a ferry service; but no, the only way to get there is by plane. And despite this making a dent in my budget I told myself that I had to go seeing I was so close.

My timing, however, is perhaps not as spot on as I would have liked, as the ceasefire between the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) and the government seems to be falling apart as I write this post. There's nothing like being in the middle of a low-level, internal guerrilla war to make your holiday that much more exciting. On top of that I've arrived on a Friday afternoon and need to stick around until Monday to be able to start my visa application process at the Indian embassy. (Generally they give 6 month multiple entry visas every time, but instead I only got a 3 month single entry one. Perhaps they thought I was a trouble-maker or terrorist or something.) Nevertheless I am very glad I made the decision to pop over as my first impressions of the place are very positive. As anybody who has been to India will testify, it can be a trying place: persistent touts, beggars and rickshaw drivers, annoying children, shit on the streets (and I mean literally human excrement) and dodgy traffic to name but a few aspects of travelling in India that can wear away at your patience (and I must admit on a couple of days mine did wear through). Sri Lanka (or at least Colombo) on the other hand seems to be blissfully neat and ordered by comparison: (reasonably) clean streets, rickshaw drivers who actually take no for an answer, polite people, and traffic that actually respects pelican crossings!

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