Beijing to Anuradhapura with a flight to Colombo via Bangkok, experiencing one of the most annoying passengers I’ve ever encountered and then a long drive to Anuradhapura.
Beijing to Bangkok
My friend Christina and I grabbed the airport express train since cabs were so hard to find with the recent snowfall.
The flight to Bangkok was uneventful with a lady giving up her seat so we could sit together. We watched The Island President, which I highly recommend, in preparation for the Maldives.
Bangkok to Colombo
The flight stopped in Bangkok for one hour for a change of passengers and a cleaning crew coming through. Unfortunately the guy whose seat I had changed with, rescinded his offer a few minutes later. I found out why soon enough.
Possibly the Most Annoying Passenger Ever
The man I had to sit next to was one of three Chinese men in their forties in what seemed to be a business trip. He was the loud and obnoxious rebel of the group. Sporting a comb over, a white dress shirt that adequately showed off his belly and typical black Chinese polyester dress pants, he was dressed to impress. Whenever the flight attendant came by to ask him to put on his seat-belt or put away his tray, he would laugh and ignore her until she had to come by a second time. “That showed her” was his attitude. No one tells this guy what to do.
His first offense to me was when he had to get something from the overhead compartment. He gestured for me to move and as I stood there waiting, he stepped, not only on my chair with his plastic dress shoes, but also on my pillow. His foot grinded into it as he searched from something overhead. Then after he welcomed me back to my seat and to a long flight next to him.
I pretended I didn’t speak any Chinese so I didn’t have to acknowledge him despite his efforts of sleeping on my shoulder to get my attention. I’m sure personal space was a concept he was unfamiliar with.
Later when I was being served dinner, I asked for red wine. As the attendant was about to pour into my glass, his hand darted over mine with his glass to receive the wine first. I think the flight attendant was more shocked than I was.
When tea was being offered with wedges of limes, he roughly called the attendant over and after running his fingers over all the wedges of lime, settled on two pieces without getting any tea. Then after taking a bite into it he commented on how sour it was. His quiet friend explained in Chinese that it was a lime.
Let’s just say it was a long flight. And the fact that Christina became besties with the guy who took my seat didn’t make it any better.
Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB)
As of the beginning of 2012, most passengers need to pay for their visa before arrival through the immigration website. The website is awful to use and only worked after several attempts of filling in all the information. I made a typo with my passport number and the officer took me to the back room to get me a new visa letter. He asked me to pay for another visa, but then the supervisor put it through.
After getting our luggage, we approached the tourism information desk and got a feel for our options. At 10 pm already, it looked like we would need a car if we were to see everything on my list. Public transportation was going to be too slow and going to Colombo tonight to sleep would waste valuable travel time.
A travel agent approached us and gave us a pretty decent package to see all the main sites in 3 days. Our itinerary usually takes a week to complete. With some bargaining the total cost for a driver, gas, and two nights of hotel was USD360. There are three tour companies at the airport all with similar pricing. We booked with our agent, Sanjaya, who worked at Lankan Heritage & Tours.
The driver they organized was a local Sri Lankan named Thushara, who was a genuinely friendly guy who put our comfort and experience before anything else. If you are looking to find a good reliable driver for your itinerary, give Thushara a call: 072-8643646.
We got in our red Nissan and were off on our adventure!
Out of the airport we stopped at a local restaurant for a quick snack.
Then a five-hour drive to Anuradhapura.
I wanted to sleep in the car but as I wasn’t fully confident in our driver yet, I couldn’t help but stay awake to make sure he didn’t drift off to sleep. It was a tiring and discomforting experiencing being blinded by the high beams of oncoming trucks on the otherwise barren roads and drifting in and out of sleep. At one point I saw a bus coming straight at us and our driver fell asleep so we were going to have a headon collision. I yelled “Watch out! Watch out!” and then woke up from my very realistic dream. The driver turned and asked “bad dream?”
We arrived in Anuradhapura around 5 am and napped in the mosquito filled car for two hours so we could have an early start on the sites tomorrow.
While scratching mosquito bites, I groggily thought it can only get better from here!