Favorite thing: Colombo is the Main City of Sri Lanka and growing very quickly after the 30 years Local War. I think Colombo City will be the best City of the Asia for "Night Life" in Future because plan has started already ;) I guess
Currency Exchange at the Airport
Favorite thing: There are no ATM or Currency Exchange facility to change your Sri Lankan Rupee in to foreign currency once you get inside the boarding area and clear Immigration for Departuture.
Departure Gate. There is a ATM on the right hand side beside entrance gate before the first security scaner, and banks counters at the Departure Hall a receipt is required proving that you had sold the foreign currency to any exchange company and the amount you going to buy back should not exceed that receipt, or you can say the money was drawn from ATM when you arrived, it is advised to convert Sri Lankan Rupee in Colombo or Negombo to avoid higher conversion at the Airport.
There is one small coffee shop and a convinient store on the left of the departure hall if you want to dispose off small amount left or keep them as suvineer if the Bills are crispy
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Favorite thing: There is one ATM on the back side of Commercial Bank Counter. Slightly on left side after coming out of arrival hall.
Its better to draw money from VISA ATM rather then selling the foreign currency to the Bank Counters which offer lower rates then the open market. There is no extra charges when i used my Debit Card.
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Free Map of Sri Lanka
Favorite thing: You can get detailed Map of Sri Lanka for Free at the airport, there is a magazine rack right after you come out, before the Sri lankan airline over night stay counter. This magazine EXPLORE SRI LANKA is for Free and there is a map inside,
This map have detailes of Colombo, Anuradhapura, Plonnaruwa, Nuwara Eliya, kandy and Galle,
This is a monthly magazine, also contains some useful information about Hotels and recreation places. Dont forget to pick your copy.
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Tourist info a Fort Train station
Favorite thing: Fort is a big train station on the Northern part of Colombo city centre. Trains from there around the rest of island are very inexpensive.
There is also a tourist info place that I found useful. the 2 guys working there were helpful not only in providing info on trains, they also provided info on other transport, events and also booked my hotel for me for later on that night.
There was a couple of German people and a Japanese guy there at the same time as me and usual there was very qiuickly a conversation broke out among us sharing tips and experiences.
Unlike the Tourist Board office near Galle Road, tourist info at Fort station opens on Sundays.
The best thing about Colombo is the road out
Favorite thing: I stayed in Colombo for 2 nights and couldn't wait to get out of the place (I had booked for 3 nights but left early). I've been living in India for a couple of months and that I knew what to expect from people hassling you in the streets. Colombo is a whole league worse in my opinion.
The tuk tuk drivers come up to you in the street and seem to think that if they badger you long enough you will eventually give in. When you say to them, ' no thank you', and walk away, some them do a U turn, drive 30 metres up the street, U turn again and then start on you once more. At one point I flagged down a taxi (and I mean a taxi, not a tuk tuk) and asked how much to bar I was going to try. I was told 200 which I agreed to without arguing. I got into the front seat ready to roll. The driver then gave me some crappy line and then said it was going to be 300. I turned to my left and went to open the car door and leave. The driver then grabbed my right arm and would let me leave, saying, '200, 200, 200'. I wouldn't do business with this guy even if there wasn't a single other can driver in the world so I continued in my attempt to leave. He wouldn't let go of my arm and so this ridiculous tug of war ensued with my trying to leave the cab with the driver pulling on my right arm trying to prevent me from leaving.
Then there is people walking in the street and coming up making out they are warm and friendly and welcoming before turning the conversation on to the subject of gem stones and how great it would be for me to see some.
The high military presence (my cab was stopped at 3 cheque points on the way into Colombo from the airport and passed through dozens of others) you kind of get used to. One evening going home from a bar in a tuk tuk I was stopped 3 times on a journey of only 3 - 4 km. At one point when I was in a tuk tuk from the station to my hotel, the tuk tuk was waved down by military people one of whom then jumped in beside me in the back seat as he then tagged along for a journey he had to make.
There are suprises in bars too. I was in a German bar on Galle Road and asked for a vodka and orange. The drink was popped in front of me and I asked how much I owed. I was asked to wait a moment. This seemed a little unusual but I did as requested. A couple of minutes later I asked again and once more I was asked to wait. This seemed very strange to me and I made a point of not touching my drink (I still hadn't consumed any) until I seen the bill. I asked again and once was more was told to wait. By this time I knew something was up and made it clear I wasn't touching my drink until I seen the bill. Over 10 minutes after asking how much I owed I was finally given the tab and all was revealed - I was being billed for a double even though I didn't ask for this.
And of course there was the scams in the allegedly 5 star luxury hotels (see reviews of the Galadari and Taj hotels.
Fondest memory: Leaving the place.
Favorite thing: Thnx sahanj n Treshi,
The ADSL at 25$ looks good and should be sufficient. The guys at work should be helpful and they have an apartment for me ready as well, if I do eventually take up the job offer, but I dont know the location as of now.
Finally, I'll do a lot of my own research as well..and one more thing, do you have wireless internet in Colombo?
National Flag of Sri Lanka
Favorite thing: The flag as can be seen attached consists of a red(dish) rectangular panel bordered yellow containing a yellow lion passant holding a sword upright and four pipul leaves, one in each corner, and next to the hoist two vertical stripes, green and orange, also bordered yellow together.
The design of this flag has evolved gradually in an attempt to achieve national unity since the country, then known as Ceylon, gained its independence from Britain in 1948. Originally, the flag's central emblem was a gold lion and sword on a red field, derived from the flag of the Sinhalese kingdom of Kandy. As a consequence, it was not popular with the minority groups in the country, and so was amended in 1951 to include a green and orange band, to represent the Muslim and Tamil communities respectively. Finally, when the country adopted the local name of Sri Lanka in 1972, the flag was modified once more, with four leaves of the Pipul tree, a Buddhist symbol, added to the four corners of the dark red panel. This version of the flag was in official use from 1978.
The lion emblem of the Kingdom of Kandy comes with special meanings:
* The eyes - Vigilance and Forward Vision of the State
* The hair brushed in the forward direction - Bravery
* The sword - defense of the homeland and implementation of the laws of the land. (In some older Kotte era flags, the sword was replaced with a Whip)
* The multiple lines of hair seen on the head of the lion - Nobility
* The Equality of height between the head and the tail - The equality between the ruler and the rules.
* The strong paws of the lion - The strength of the Sri Lankans
* The Four Temple finales (or koth) - Buddhism being the national religion of Sri Lanka
Fondest memory: Extracted from Flags Of The World
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Sri Lankan Hospitality
Favorite thing: I never forget how gentle and caring the people of Sri Lanka. They really genuinely provide their service from heart.
Galle Face Hotel a former British administrative building during the colonial time still one charming and unique on its own. Hotel staff are extremely helpful and caring. I felt trap in the colonial time (a nice way of saying)
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Catching a glimpse of Colombo
Favorite thing: Colombo is the capital city of Sri Lanka, and it's also a metropolitan city with a population of nearly one million. The places of interest are not many, but it's still a pleasant place to spend a day or two... not visiting but treating yourself. if you like food - you're in the rght place for some heavenly meals.
Fondest memory: We spent in Colombo only a short time: the time to have some really glorious meals and some truly boring nightlife. We walked around and visited nice temples, and then we strolled through a wealthy area with security guards everywhere who did not let us take pictures (paranoia rules!). In particular we visited on a sunday - so we managed to avoid the infamous colombo traffic.
Favorite thing: If u are budget or backpack traveler here is a tip regarding meals one of the common & good way of having food in a restaurant.
When u go to a good decent restaurant; their menu cars would’ve a particular page called Set Menu. I would prefer going for this as it cost low US$1–2.5 depending on the items included in the meals.
In menu card they always include what’re the things added to this plate of meal. So u can have your own choice. If u aren’t eating some of those stuff added either u go another choice or tell the waiter, not to include them. The quantity is sufficient and would be really great meal.
If you’re going to a restaurant and ordering food mean; you’ve to order noodles/rice separately then 1 or 2 curry & at last will be costing a big amount. But this choice u can finish off the meal spending merely US$1 or 2.
Don’t think this only suitable for travelers traveling alone or single. This will be great experience if you are traveling more than one person too.
I’ll tell my experience when my friends and myself go restaurants. We’ll always go through the Set Menu’s! & everyone orders a different dish which does vary in price. We share the food (obliviously little) and eat! At the end of the day I’d have tasted more than 2/3 dishes. That’s why I said it’s really enjoyable; unlike ordering foods through the same old menu card style; it’s totally a different experience.
Most of the restaurants only ask the amount quoted in the menu card. But in some restaurants when they bring the bill they’d have added Tax + Service Charge into that. Once the same thing happened to us; thank God we’d money with us.
The restaurants dedicated to high class and targeting tourists mainly won’t be having this Set Menu’s.
In a restaurant we ordered the same dish for 5 but we felt quantity was poor. From that day we ask tell to bring in diff. plates or order diff. items
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Favorite thing: Hawkers play major role in the economy because every one is not capable of buying in big shops around 50% our populations are depended on them.
They sell clothes, electrical items, toys, hardware & everything that’s why everyone depends on them at lest one stage of their life. It’s true the prices are quite low when buying from them but quality wise it makes a doubt some times.
When purchasing u better check it at least twice. Sometime it might have damaged or no proper stitches & simply it won’t be visible when u just see it.
Runs on battery
Ask him to put batteries & turn it and show u a demo.
Runs on electricity
But incase u had to buy item works on electricity ask him to turn it on. So, he can take to u near by shop of his friend turn it on. Else u say that you’ll return it back if it doesn’t work. But ask him whether he’ll pay the money back or replace the item before u finish the deal. I agree that people saying when changing an item from hawkers it’s really hard.
Normally hawkers won’t sell costly things. I’ve seen only once or twice a hawker selling radio which runs on electricity mainly. I know this not applicable here but u can apply it in some other small shop where u buy.
Feel free to ask the price reduced. If u can reduce the price by 1/2 it’s a really good deal. Even if u can reduce it by 2/3 of the price it’s still a good deal. It’s the same case for locals too even u can see people arguing with the hawkers to reduce the price.
Tips and Tricks
If the hawker is not reducing the price u can do the tricks what I do with them.
You simply say I’ll come back and go other hawkers to buy the item. Don’t worry the same item are available from others too as they’re given to them by the same wholesale dealer.
Otherwise u say to hawker I need this but the price is too much & pretend like going! Then the hawker obviously reduce price. At this moment u can fix the price.
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Purchasing from a Good Decent Shop (2)
Favorite thing: Clothes *
Before you pay the bill make sure try it on the fit room. Else make sure they will take it back and replace the clothes price with by with any other item that you’re going to purchase on your next visit. Normally our shops don’t pay your money back.
Electronic Item *
If it is item which works on electricity or runs on battery the salesman always show you demo that the item is working but incase if he fails make sure you ask the salesman over there to turn it on and show you the product.
The item always comes with a warranty card unlike you buy from hawkers which they don’t have warranty. Here you don’t have any problem like changing your item after purchasing due to the warranty card.
Other items *
If the item you purchased does not come under the both category and does not have a warranty card. And you want to change it for any reason they will simply do it to keep their reputation in the market.
Bills or Invoices *
The bills or invoices play a major role here. They contain plenty of information and condition when come to change an item. So, don’t loose them at all.
Grocery Sellers, very very small shops, liquor related shops (pubs, clubs), fruit & vegetable sellers, super markets and food outlets won’t give discounts or reduce prices. Before asking the discounts judge the shop first and ask for it otherwise people will give gull look at you which will make you unhappy.
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Purchasing from a Good Decent Shop (1)
Favorite thing: When you’re purchasing clothes or any other items always make sure that you ask for a discount from the salesman. Else ask him to reduce the price in figures of “00” or “50”. You can simply ask him to reduce the price from Rs.100 – Rs.200 depending on the prices.
Obviously almost every shop will give discount or reduce the price by a small amount as they are hidden cost in the price of the item you purchase. So, feel free and don’t be shy to ask for a discount.
There are some shops where they don’t give discounts. You can simply judge them by the size of their shop and the technologies they use. But still don’t take a step back when you go to pay for the item you purchase at the cashier put a smile on your face and ask him whether you will give a discount? If the cashier says no say ok and pay the bill. And if he says yes you are really luck. Normally these shops don’t have salesman and we have to choose things on your own like the super markets.
I do agree in the shops which gives discounts won’t give discounts on some items because they are either given on promotion or their prices don’t have any hidden charges. Those items will be normally cost you very little.
This is continued in the next page due to lack of space……..
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Favorite thing: Back in the old colonial days the owners of the tea and spice plantations up in the hills would make occasional trips to Colombo to stock up on supplies and 'luxuries' imported from home. Department stores such as Cargills and banks such as the Chartered Bank became famous names known across the whole of the Empire. Many of these old companies remain, particularly in the Fort area.
The Cargills department store in particular, with its distinctive red and white stripe design, is still pretty much the same as in old Victorian times. With lots of mahogany and brass display cabinets it's like stepping back in time and going shopping in a museum - you're almost scared to pick things up!
The cavernous General Post Office is another interesting reminder of days gone by, as are the original offices of the Chartered Bank and Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank (now internationally known as HSBC)
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