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as we return to the Southern Hemisphere a new adventure begins, and our mode of transport for this leg is a rented self drive TUK TUK which we have named HENRY!

Friday 15th November 13 (day 76)

Flight from Casablanca (Morocco) to Doha (Qatar) took about 6 1/2 hours. First time flying with Qatar airlines and it was ok. We had our own entertainment screens and I managed to watch 3 movies. Food was ok, nothing special at the time but later would reveal differently for one of us. The original departure time for this flight had changed by two hours which worked out better for us as it departed at 12 noon instead of 10am. This meant we only had a 2 hour layover in Doha instead of 4.

Doha airport was busy, lots of flights going in and out of here, our stopover time passed quite quickly.

Next flight from Doha to Colombo (Sri Lanka) was about 5 1/2 hours. Again I watched some movies and Lyn slept a little. She was starting to feel a little ill - we think from the food on the first flight. Although I ate the same as she did but she obviously got a bad batch.

Early morning arrival always throws out the body clock. I had not slept at all on either flights so was shattered and Lyn was now feeling even worse so I was grateful for the airport pick up I had booked with the guy we are hiring our transport from here in Sri Lanka. Rocky was there to meet us with my name scribbled on a piece of paper, its not often we have an airport meet and greet so this was nice for a change not to have to worry about finding our way to a hotel. I had also booked a place to stay for tonight with Rocky so we were taken there straight away.

Stepping outside the airport we were instantly greeted by the familiar Asian humid heat and that certain smell of a dusty hot country. Usually this aroma is welcoming to me but today I just wanted to get to a hotel and catch up on some sleep. Rocky advised due to the CHOSM being here our transport was not able to drive up to the airport arrivals so we had to walk the short distance out to the street to meet out tuk tuk that would take us to the seaside town of Negombo. Although the airport is called Colombo it is actually more than an hour from Colombo town and it was a better option to head for Negombo only 25 minutes away. This is also the place where our rental vehicle is. 8.30 in the morning and it was already pretty hot.

First impressions of Sri Lanka from the transfer tuk tuk was that is it a hell of a lot cleaner than I expected. Sure it's dirty and dusty, but not a lot of litter (actually hardly any) along the road side. Buildings and the little bit of country side we saw are very similar to Thailand really.

Finally at the hotel we made arrangements with Rocky to meet up later this afternoon for Lyn to have a tuk tuk driving lesson and then went to our room and slept for a couple of hours. We woke later in the afternoon and decided it was time to venture our and an ATM to get some local currency and some food. The ATM was just up the street at a flash hotel and when we started to look around for food nothing really seemed appealing. I had little expectations regarding food here and did not feel particularly hungry anyway and Lyn was still having a battle with her bowels and did not feel like anything anyway. We did however opt for a mixed fruit shake - which I thought would be filling enough and ok for Lyn's stomach to tolerate. Vitamins and minerals and all that stuff from fresh fruit has to be ok. It was good and only 100 rupes (82c). I could foresee this was going to be a staple on my food intake in this country.

We walked along the street browsing at the shops, returning to the hotel when just before it was time for the driving lesson. The driver that drove us from the airport had drawn the short straw to give the lesson and collected us from the hotel and took us in the tuk tuk down to the beach where there was an open area to practice. Unfortunately for Lyn this open area was currently being used as a cricket pitch and the game did not look like ending soon. Not to worry, lesson would just have to be taken on the road. I exited the tuk tuk when Lyn took the drivers seat - not out of fear, just to be out of the way. Off she drove and 20 minutes later returned having driving on the road and in traffic and was given the nod by the driver that she was competent to handle the tuk tuk. We had to get a Sri Lankan driving permit (arranged via Rocky) before arriving and hiring a vehicle. I think this is just a money spinner, but if you hire any kind of vehicle here and do not have this apparently there is a problem. Everyone has to get one and the hire companies will not give you a vehicle unless you pay the $40USD to the government - guess they have been told also.

So the driving all settled, the tuk tuk would be delivered to us at the hotel in the morning when we would fill in the paperwork etc.

Lyn's instructor left us on the beach as we said we wanted to go for a walk and would get back to the hotel ourselves. It was not far. The sun had just set - not much of a sunset as very cloudy on the horizon. The evening was warm as we strolled along the beach in front of the beach side flash hotels that looked much nicer and flasher at night with the palm trees all lite up. The beach was clean, again no rubbish here, but the water looked brown and uninviting.

Returning to the street to find a place to eat we saw a place called Honky Tonk 2 which looked ok so we stopped and had a beer (largie Rs286 = $2.34) and ate a meal of pork chop, chips and salad for Rs990 = $8.12 each. Menu prices here are quoted net and at the bottom is says plus 10%. Bit of a pain as you think you are paying one price and then are charged another, just list the total price, so much easier. The food was ok, but the bloody owner tried to short change us Rs1000 = $8.20 - cheeky bastard. How many tourists just pocket the change without checking? When we brought it to his attention he said 'oh yes sorry' and gave us the extra without even looking at the change he had given us. Good lesson learnt, we need to check change every time.

Back to the hotel, we needed more sleep and Lyn needed more toilet time. Tomorrow is going to be a new day and a new mode of transport for us.

Look out Sri Lankan roadsters, here we come, tuk tuking along.


Posted by Cindy Bruin 03:47 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged morocco sri lanka negombo doha Comments (0)

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