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Longest day in Lanka starts

Actual plan for Day1- Find the first bus to Colombo or Kandy and visit the Tooth Relic Temple.

What happened there – To surprise me, one of my friend was also in the same plane in which I came. We met each other as we were walking to the Immigration counter in the airport. As we refreshed our friendship, I learned that Shrinidhi Hande (http://enidhi.net) was with his friends in Sri Lanka for a weekend bash. They were also going to Kandy. Seemed like they had a more clear idea on what to do in next 48 hours. Shrinidhi invited me to his group if I wish. They had already booked a 9 seater traveler there. I was fine with that deal. And decided to join with them till first day afternoon.

A few facts about Negombo where I was at that moment. Negombo (Neer-kozhumbu in Tamil) is a beach side city located about 40 Kms north of the commercial capital – Colombo (Kozhumbu in Tamil). Negombo has a considerable amount of Tamil population and is one of the most busiest place due to it’s scenic beach resorts. Adding to it, Negombo houses the one and only international airport in the island- Bandaranaike International Airport, located in a place called Katunayake. Economy of this city is from the tourism and fisheries.

There were no much hazels in getting the visa stamped on an Indian Passport, only if you are not Thiru. Thol Thirumavalavan (a self appointed political hero who supports and delivers speech on LTTE). Only thing the visa giving officer asked me was, where will I stay during my 1 week tour in Sri Lanka? I said the fact that, I have not arranged anything before coming here, but I have enough money to survive here and find out a good place to stay. Response was- “Welcome to Lanka, have a nice stay”. Gidik Gidik…Stamped!

We walked out to the airport’s exit gate. On the way, we could see these duty free shops all over the first floor. They had almost everything LCD TVs, Laptops, Media players, Cameras, Cigars, Liquor, etc. We were in search of a place where we can have a face wash and get fresh. So, we went near the Customs clearance area and passed through the green channel as none of us had any check-in baggage. We found the wash room in the aisle of green channel. One by one we got in and got refreshed. We noticed that there were many officers who were looking at us for quite a while. As we didn’t wanted any untoward incident, we cleared off the spot very soon.

On the other side of the door, there was a very large lobby with two sections. First section had SriLanka Tourism Promotion Board’s counter, many money changers and an ATM Machine. Second section had all the travel companies and mobile service providers stalls. First I went to Thomas Cook (Forex) to change my Indian Rupees to Lankan Rupees. “WE DO NOT DEAL INDIAN MONEY” was the answer from each guy. Enough of a shock. Because, I did not had much money in my bank account as well, because it was 26th of the month! I searched out the ATM and drew a number -3000. I was not sure whether it is going to give me equivalent of INR 3000 or just LKR 3000. Later I checked and confirmed, account was deducted with equivalent of only LKR 3000. I walked to the tourism board counter and asked for giving me some idea about the places which I had in mind. He explained a few things and gave me a bunch of maps and brochures. These things became very useful for me later in my travel.

Shrinidhi called up the cab driver and spotted him. We walked to him and he escorted us to get out of the Airport. It was a Toyota 9 seater vehicle, which was arranged. The driver’s name was very complex one for even an Indian tongue. But we could only understand the first part- “Kapu” (No, it was not Kapugedara). There after we called him Kapu. Kapu ‘the sarathy’ started the journey to the hill country – “Kandy”.

An idea of what Kandy is… Kandy is the last capital of the ancient kingdom of SriLanka. It is a very well planned hill station. This town houses the Tooth Relic Temple which is dedicated to Sri Buddha. It’s Sinhalese name is Maha Nuwara. Town still holds many of the colonial buildings intact. For this, UNESCO has declared the city along with almost all buildings in the city as “World Heritage City” in year 1988. Kandy’s people are having their own cultural identity, the way they carry themselves and how they are shown to others. All together a great place.

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