Tuesday, June 12, 2012
The longest month
I got a bit fed up of South Asia towards the end of last year, but after seeing through a Korean winter it seemed like a good idea to go back to these warmer climates. I probably should have stayed away longer.
Sri Lanka requires a certain state of mind, and if you're heading here for a relaxing holiday, on a spiritual retreat or for any other reason that doesn't rely on technology or prompt service, it might not be so bad. Then again, it's only a couple of extra hours to South East Asia, so I'm not sure why you'd feel the need to stop off here. Maybe like me you wanted to see something different and made an arbitrary decision based on budget flights.
I might have been able to achieve this state of mind if my livelihood didn't depend on a reliable power supply and Wi-Fi connections capable of at least loading Gmail in basic HTML mode without crashing. I've hopefully learned a lesson (or reminded myself after forgetting) that some countries just aren't suited to dependence on an internet connection and electricity. I've also learned that one month isn't always too brief a stay in a country, especially when many days are frustrating ordeals that make me wonder why I didn't just stay in Korea for the spring.
When I'm not moaning, I did try to see the best of Sri Lanka during the time I'd committed to this place, and like a lot of countries I visit there was a period of interest in the middle book-ended by a couple of weeks that weren't so great. In the long run I won't regret the month I spent here, like I did at the time with the Philippines, but I could have chosen better. And as much I enjoyed the scenery, dilapidated ruins and crumbling colonial architecture, it felt like I'd done it all before in Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia, where everything was a lot more convenient.
I'm no closer to knowing where I want to be in the long term, so for the short term I'll keep experimenting - I just might try for some actual diversity next time, instead of more of the same but with pushier taxi drivers. Those guys really soured everything, and were every bit as vexing as their Egyptian counterparts. I hear this place can be similarly inadvisable for women travelling alone too - whew, I knew these absurd genitals would come in useful one day.
At the time of writing, I'm about to get a return flight to Thailand (my Deep Space Nine or Wood Between the Worlds type travel hub in Asia, depending on your nerdy frame of reference) and have to decide pretty soon where to head next. I would truly be a masochist if I chose India, which seems like it would be more of this in my possibly racist assumption, but maybe I should get it out of the way. If I do go, I'll just plump for the fortnight this time.
Sri Lanka route map
A Mount Lavinia