Negombo to Dambulla
After eating our first Sri Lankan breakfast in the morning, we set off again to our next destination - Dambulla. Our first port of call was catching an Uber to Negombo bus station - this was the first time we had experienced the roads in Sri Lanka which was just crazy! It almost seems like people have a death wish when they drive e.g. instead of braking towards still traffic, they speed up.
After a 10 minute drive, we arrived at Negombo bus terminal. Finding the bus was also quite easy as the bus conductors are very helpful, you tell them where you’d like to go and they point you in the right direction.
The bus itself, although without A/C (to be expected) was rather pleasant and comfortable. As a man of 6ft3 it’s not always easy finding seats that don’t press on the legs, however these buses offered more leg space than any UK bus ever has. At the price of £0.54 (120RP) for a 2 and half hour drive and 114km, I would certainly say you get your money’s worth. The only thing that left me slightly on edge was the fact we had to leave our bags next to the front entrance of the coach and had to keep checking every few minutes that they were still there. When we arrived at our first stop, Kurunegala bus station, we caught the next bus to Dambulla. On this bus journey we also got to see monks boarding the coach. As a sign of respect, the monks are offered the front bus seats which I also noticed came before pregnant and elderly individuals. As we left the outskirts of Kurunegala we began to see the more rural side of Sri Lanka with rice fields and small villages, this also made the next two and half hours pass by very quickly!
After pulling into Dambulla we were helped by a local in the direction of our hostel which was a 1km walk, this was also the farthest we had walked with our big rucksacks so it gave us a good opportunity to test them out! Soon after we arrived at our second hostel, Dambulla city hostel, we were instantly greeted by a friendly manager who booked us into our rooms. The hostel itself had a younger vibe about it with more of an emphasis on social activities (table tennis, Nintendo wii, volleyball) which made for a more relaxing and homely experience. Later that night, the hostel also put on a bbq for guests at a price of 1000 rupees (£4.49), although quite expensive for a bit of chicken, fish and veg, we’d only eaten our breakfast that day so we were looking forward t0 it! A really good positive about the hostel was there relaxed stance on the fridge, they had a white board where you just tick what you’ve taken out of the fridge and pay at the end of your stay (requires a fair level of trust from guests).
That night we met two girls from Switzerland, a guy from Portugal and a guy from Edinburgh. We noticed all of them didn’t intend on staying in Sri Lanka that long (around 10 days) which meant they were all squeezing in about 3 or 4 different activities a day. That night we all shared our stories and backgrounds, the Portuguese man had told us he was out here chasing a girl (apparently hiked for two days through a jungle to get to the girl only to be told she doesn’t want him anymore) the Scottish guy was revisiting a school he once worked at 3 years ago, and the two Swiss girls were just here to see and do as much as possible. At this point it was quite refreshing to be able to talk to other people that could understand us and it made for a much more stress-free evening and end to our day.