Trip Start Jan 27, 2011
25Trip End May 07, 2011
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An hour or so later we arrived at the Indian High Commissioner's Office. We found the entrance for visa applicants and soon found ourselves shoved into an ity-bity doorway waiting for our turn to be let in to the office. After waiting in the heat for close to an hour we had made it inside. We went through security and made our way upstairs to the visa office. We were handed applications and told to fill them out. Once they were complete we returned to the desk and handed in all our documents. We were immediately told that we needed to go to the Indian Visa Center down the street. Frustrated that we had wasted our time, we started to walk in that direction. After we had walked a block in the heat we saw the tourist information office. We decided it would be a good idea for us to stop in and get a map and find out what there is to do in Colombo (for our time after we got the visas). While we were talking to the lady who worked there she asked if we were interested in doing any one or two day trips around the country. We said we might be and asked what kind of trips they offered. She immediately got on the phone and told us her friend the travel agent would pick us up and take us to his office to discuss our options.
A few minutes passed and a man walked into the tourist office. He brought us outside and into a tuk-tuk where we were taken down the street and to his office. Once inside he showed us pictures and a map and discussed different options with us. They all sounded lovely but we quickly realized they would all be way out of our price range. So we told the man we would think about it, asked for his business card, and left. By this point we realized we were starving! We hadn't eaten anything yet that day. We went to the first place we saw selling food, which happened to be right outside of the travel agent's office. We ordered some chicken and rice to go, got some drinks and started walking back the way we had come from. We quickly found a small grassy area in the shade near a building and sat down to eat. We then realized that we had not been given any utensils (or napkins), and as we thought back to the food stand we realized all the people sitting near there weren't using utensils either. So we did our best to eat the rice and chicken (which were covered in a sauce) with our fingers. The food was good, but very messy! Once we were done we found a tuk-tuk driver to take us to the visa center.
We arrived at the Visa Center, went through security and walked up to the reception desk. The receptionist looked at our applications, passports, and the flight print outs that Sage was smart enough to bring. After much discussion (we had two more flights into Mumbai but were only planning on leaving the airport for one of them) he gave us a number and told us to go sit and wait. So we sat and watched the numbers increasing on the screen as various people were called up to the different windows. Eventually, our turn came. We walked up and handed over all of our various documents. We then spent more time discussing our plans and which visa we needed. The woman we were speaking to walked away and came back various times throughout our whole discussion. Finally we had everything in order and were handed back our passports! Except there was no visa inside. We were given a note telling us to return on Friday morning with our passports. Feeling a little defeated we left the visa center. We decided we should see at-least a little bit of Colombo so we picked an area on the map, took a tuk-tuk there and started to walk around.
We walked through an area of green grass next to the ocean, called Galle Face Green, and through the old fort area. There we found a small cafe where we stopped for coffee and tea before continuing to walk around. We then stumbled upon Laksala. A store selling all kinds of Sri Lankan handicrafts. We spent some time looking around there before we walked to the train station. We bought our tickets which were $0.40 each and saw that we had a little time before our train. So we went into the little cafe stand at the train station and bought a few fried treats to hold us over until we got back to Negombo and could eat dinner. Soon we saw a train pull into the station. We checked that it was the right one, and pushed our way on board. The train was beyond packed. Every seat was taken and there were so many people standing that it was impossible to move. It was hot and sticky and very uncomfortable. As we arrived at the first few stations it seemed that the physically impossible was happening and more people were getting on to the train than getting off. As we got farther from Colombo the train slowly started to empty and we were eventually even able to sit down. There happened to be two other backpackers in the same car as us and we were able to chat with them for part of the journey. They were from the Ukraine and had decided to hitchhike their way to and around south east asia. They had been traveling for about 5 months and shared some stories with us about different places they had been. We talked with them until we arrived at the stop for the airport where they left to continue on their way back home.
A couple hours after we had left Colombo we arrived back in Negombo. We decided to walk around the town a little bit and find the restaurant the owner of our guest house had pointed out to us the day before. The food was cheap and delicious (and they had utensils). After dinner we took out our little address card and haggled with some tuk-tuk drivers before finding one to take us back at a reasonable price. We returned to our little apartment and decided we should spend the next day at the beach relaxing.