Things they don’t tell you about travelling to Sri Lanka

1) The time lapse of five and a half hours is tricky. Leaving the UK at noon, we got here just after 4:00am. Our body clocks were telling us that  it was 10:30 at night and that we ought to be thinking about getting to bed. The Sri Lankan clocks, though were telling us that we should still be in bed, sleeping but thinking about breakfast very shortly!

A better time to fly from the UK, I think, would be fairly late in the evening. You could then sleep through much of the flight; wake up on Sri Lankan time for a late “breakfast” then keep going until you have an early night in Sri Lanka.

2) Whatever you pack, it probably won’t be cool enough – well, certainly it won’t be on the coast (we haven’t been up to the hills yet, it may be different there). Long sleeved tee shirts, long trousers (even at night) are all far too warm.

3) And forget make-up too! It’s so humid that it will just drip off you. Get your eyelashes dyed instead, it makes life much easier.

4) Peaceful is a relative term. We’re in the tropics, it’s a jungle and therefore there are noisy birds and animals screeching all the time. And some of the smallest animals are the noisiest – the tiny squirrel like “Lena” makes an unbelievable racket! As for birds or mice in the attack, how about mongoose? They’re big and clumsy as they bumble about on the roof as you’re trying to sleep!

5) Don’t assume stray dogs are really strays. That animal lying in the middle of the road, forcing traffic to go around it (and they do!) is probably someone’s pet. They go home at night and people seem to just let them wander during the day.

6) The “dry” season isn’t that dry! It can and does still rain and humidity is like a warm wet blanket the minute you step out from the air conditioning. No air conditioning? That’s a mistake! I hope you’ve got a fan, at least! If you want to sleep in any degree of comfort at night, you’re going to need it. And as for washing, you’ll want to wash all the stuff you’ve sweatted into all day, especially when it’s impregnated with sun cream and anti-mosquito repellent – but it may not dry quickly, in spite of the heat. It’s just too damp so bring plenty of spare knickers!

7) Those pesky mosquitos aren’t only a problem at night. They can get you any time of day, especially if you go near dark, dank foliage (they even hide under beds!!) Even “Jungle Formula” isn’t enough to deter the most determined of these bugs. Start taking anti-histamine before you even leave the UK so it’s in your system to help counter the itch. Oh, and bring plenty of anti-mosquito products with you.

8) Perfume – forget it! Apparently it attracts the bugs even more and that’s the last thing you’re going to want. Reconcile yourself to the gentle lemony whiff of Citronella for the duration of your stay. It brings a completely new dimension to unisex perfumes.



Categories: Uncategorized | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Things they don’t tell you about travelling to Sri Lanka

  1. Nati

    It sounds wonderfully.. you better buy new clothes¡¡¡¡¡ shopping¡¡¡¡ But where…Take it easy Fiona¡¡¡ You should write about the nice things…as soon as you can…Pictures….please…Nati

  2. Carole Baker

    Honestly Fo – You haven’t been there 2 weeks yet and already clearly need something to fill your time!!!! Glad we persuaded you to buy copious amounts of Antihistamine – seems you are going to need it – but sorry to hear that Ray has been unwell so early into the trip. Give him a big hug from me.

    Will read the blog with interest over the coming weeks.

    Carole x

  3. Julia Kaufmann

    Love the blog. And how useful! Sri Lanka is now off my list of places to visit. And a good job too because there aren’t enough years left to do it all.

  4. Jenny McLachlan

    Enjoyed reading your first impressions and interestingly enough I can relate to almost all of what you have written about Sri Lanka (apart from the time difference) as you could have been describing Fiji; the heat and humidity, no point wearing make up, insufficient hot weather clothing and the washing/drying, ‘mozzies’, animals …… everything really, except for the noisy neighbours as I was on a plantation and we had no near neighbours. At nights most noise came from the three guard dogs barking at and chasing mongooses (or is it mongeese,or should it just be mongoose!?) and the screeching of bats in the trees!

    With regard to the temperatures, I couldn’t have stayed living in Fiji for as long as I did without air conditioning and/or fans. I seemed to be constantly soaked from perspiration – yuk – not a nice feeling (or smell!).

    The dogs are everywhere in Fiji as well (even saw about three dead on the sides of the road having been hit by cars) – many of them sadly are strays and the people are often too poor to provide for their own needs let alone those of animals. Very sad. However, despite their often poor living conditions, the Fijian people are extremely robust, friendly, generous and welcoming.

    I’m glad Ray has settled in and doesn’t want to go home. It’s a great feeling to stick something out to the end even when the going gets tough.

    I’m looking forward to reading more Fo! What a wonderful experience ….. :0)

  5. SSH

    From one who lives in a tropical Washington DC. A swamp in effect beware cranking the air con up to high as its the fastest way to get a cold. Colds in 90% humidity and +30c are not fun! Beware alos other animal wandering about like cows as these are sacred beasts. Oh and just get used to being very hot and forget tugging at the clothes. In 1920/30s, good old fashioned talc powder was the thing ladies used. Useful still for asian climes! Such a great place to go so enjoy. So many drinks from coconut to look forward to as well! Take care. Susan xx

  6. Claire W

    I have spent my life avoiding hot places whenever possible but I still remember being chased by small boys in north Africa trying to flog me a hibiscus flower. Just to shut them up, I bought one after a few days of being harried by them and I stuck it behind my ear so the other boys would leave me alone. The unexpected benefit was that the mossies left me alone (my top half anyway). I took to buying several every day and putting them on the bed at night and had a relatively mossie-free stay. I have no idea if they grow/sell hibiscus in Sri Lanka, but if they do, or if locals walk round with anything outlandish on their heads or round their necks, I would suggest you try it in case there’s a similar benefit! I’m glad you’re enjoying your time although you’d have to drug me to get me to come to such a hot place. If you find a recipe for the best 3 dishes you eat while you’re there, that will give me the only flavour of your trip that I’d be happy to try! Have a good time and you may want to explain what happens in the middle portion of a top-to-toe massage… Claire x

  7. Lol

    Very useful info F. You need your own reality travel guide! L X

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