A crazy travel guide to Sri Lanka with crazy survival tips! Lanka flag

A Crazy, alternative travellers guide to Sri Lanka with survival tips, customs, culture, food and drink. PART 1 PART 2 link
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Geography:
Sri Lanka is a teardrop shaped island in the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean is near India.
! At this point American readers might want to consult an atlas. The blue area surrounding the island is the Indian Ocean. The country is considerably smaller than Texas.!
Map of Sri Lanka before the country was divided
! Capital: There is some confusion amongst locals as to which is the capital city.
Population: At last count there were 28,9672,2981 people (+ or - 2million).
In one electorate the number of votes cast exceeded the number of voters by a factor of 0.24!
Time Difference
Since President Chandrapala, in her great wisdom, meddled with the clocks no one is sure of the correct time. It is either GMT + 5 and a half or 6 and a half hours. If in doubt ask an Astrologer.

Culture
Sri Lanka has a curious culture of Sinhalese, Buddhists, Tamils, Muslims, Christians and Politicians. All hate each others guts.
The Buddhist flag is unique amongst flags in that it has all the visible and invisible colours of the spectrum and has been used by the Technicolor™ Corporation as well as JASC PaintShopPro™ as a template! Technicolor Buddhist flag
The Sinhalese alphabet has 256 letters! (see part two)
Travel:
Driving: Driving in Sri Lanka is easy, as rules have been changed since Colonial times to the extent that they no longer exist.
Driving is on the right side or the left side, but preferably in the middle of the road. It is permissible to overtake on the right or on the left.
You have to be a maniac to drive in Sri Lanka
Kings of the road! Note double white lines.

Four vehicles compete for two lanes and around a sharp corner, at Kadugannawa pass.

Locals specialise in overtaking on blind corners. There are no speed limits. Speed is dictated by cows sitting on the roadway.
Before driving off be sure to check your horn. Do not forget to check your horn at frequent intervals. Use flashing headlamps and hazard warning lights randomly and without reason.
It is easy and safe to outrun trains at level crossings. The faint white markings seen on urban roads are pedestrian crossings, which can safely be ignored.


! Traffic lights are largely decorative and are switched off during daytime to conserve electricity.

Street names are usually long e.g. "Venerable Reverend Narampanawe Rathanajothi Mawatha".

Three wheelers
An experience in one of these is a must! Most three wheelers are to be found near hospitals.
Travel Warning! Do not pay the driver until you arrive at your destination, as accidents are common.
Death on three wheels, Sri Lanka style!
Death on three wheels! Sri Lankan style

Railway: The railway network is constantly expanding with existing tracks pulled up to build new tracks elsewhere. The proposed extension from Matara to Kataragama is well underway and is expected to be completed by 2025. It is perfectly normal and acceptable to walk along railway tracks in spite of warning notices. Walking is often quicker than train travel.
Contrary to popular belief the railway workers are not on strike everyday!
The Colombo-Badulla "Udarata Menike"
This 'express' run is worthwhile.Travel Tip ! Set aside a day to buy train tickets. Train timetables are for guidance only.
Bus: Crowded buses are to be found everywhere. They are cheerful and cheap but be prepared to stand.
If seated be prepared to allow another passenger to sit on your lap.
! Scantily clad female visitors should avoid bus travel, carry a pin or should learn to shout "Hitapiya Yako!".
Hazard Warning!
The Sri Lankan bus service is a major hazard
The message is clear! Lankan buses have a hazard warning triangle on the front!


Left: Bus travel. If you can't get on the step grab a fellow passenger by his trousers!
Bus travel in Sri Lanka is a once in a lifetime experience
History
Sri Lanka has had a long and colurful history with plenty of murder and mayhem. However, it is a charming country....
The Many-Named Island
Sri Lanka has been known by many names such as Sri Lanka, Shri Lanka, Ceylon, Ceylan, Serendip, Serendib, Shangri-la, Tear drop in the Indian Ocean, The Last Drop on India's Tip, Ilangai, Hanumaland, Taprobane Hotel etc but never as "That Blasted Country!"
Sri Lanka has a curious culture of Sinhalese, Buddhists, Tamils, Muslims, Christians and Politicians. All hate each others guts.
Interested readers might want to read the Crazylanka version of Sri Lankan history.
Queen Anula
The best known Sri Lankan Queen is Queen Anula who was a nymphomaniac and loved anything in a sarong!

Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe
The last Srilankan king's real name was King Konnasami. He was not Sinhalese. He was betrayed by Kandyans and died in exile. His sarong, reclining chair and hat ended up in the British Museum.
Recent Politics
Sri Lanka is a Socialist-Capitalist Democracy ruled by a Dictator. Sri Lanka has had more elections than any other country with the possible exception of Bolivia. The present incumbent is President Chandrapala.
Heil To The Chief!
The present Dictator, popularly known as "Sattelite" or "Satty", rides on top of an armour plated Bajaj™Threewheeler (Tuk Tuk) fitted with machine guns, on Chandrika Day. She likes men with moustaches and/or beards.
Her brother is named after the airport.
How To Get There:
Colombo airport is the main gateway. Er! Actually it is the only gateway. Colombo airport is not in Colombo.
!The name of the airport changes between Bandaranaike International Airport and Katunayake International Airport depending on the government in power.
It is important to keep this in mind as governments change regularly.
Katunayake was not a former Prime Minister.
Airlines:
SriLankan Airlines are now largely owned by Emirates and are, not surprisingly, better than the old Airlanka.
First time travellers are advised to travel by SriLankan.
Avoid smaller airlines such as Bangladesh, Arabian, Air BurkinaFaso and Andaman Air.

Do not worry about the logo of Srilankan Airlines which does look like a deflated rubber bird.
Airlanka's predecessor was old Air Ceylon which in the 50s, 60s and early seventies operated Dakotas and then a Trident. It is reputed to have carried standing passengers!...No doubt the air hostesses shouted "Issarahata Yanna! Issarahata Yanna!"
! Unless you are used to sitting in the kitchen sink it is best to avoid charter flights who seem to cater to dwarfs as far as seat pitch goes!
Travel Tip !
Warning! Avoid Pakistani Airlines! They don't serve alcohol.

Stories of Sri Lankans carrying goats and chickens on aircraft are vastly exaggerated!
Be warned though that returning Sri Lankans have been known to carry washing machines and tumble dryers as hand luggage.

Getting out of the airport:
! It is important to maintain a sense of humour.
Immigration officers are invariably taken by surprise at the arrival of a planeload full of passengers. Somehow, they seem to expect planes to arrive empty!
Expect some delay as they boot up computers and finish their tea.
Having cleared formalities find your transport to your hotel.
(The barbed wired area opposite the airport entrance is not a concentration camp but is meant to hold relatives and friends of departing and arriving Sri Lankans. Sometimes the whole village turns up.)
Utilities
Electricity: Sri Lanka has electricity except in the dry season (when hydroelectric reservoirs dry up) and in the wet season (when power lines come down).
The voltage is nominally 230v but is usually 110v.

Telephones: Surprisingly telephones work well. Mobile telephone networks are also excellent.

Water: Water is available freely during the wet season. Bottled water is safe to drink except when the contents look green and with obvious signs of the bottles having being refilled.
Expiry dates on bottles, as on all other consumer items, are regularly changed.

Sewerage: The Dutch built excellent canals, which now function as sewers.
Wellawatte Canal
The Wellawatte Canal next to the Savoy cinema is worth a visit. A perfumed handkerchief is usually sufficient to combat the stench.
On a good day it is possible to spot a few dead cats floating. Don't forget to bring your camera!
Home to Crazylanka
SriLankan Airways. A great way to fly
Srilankan Airlines hostesses never say this! Dilmah Tea is one of the good quality teas to come from Sri Lanka after the tea plantations were largely nationalised
Dilmah Tea is one of the good quality teas to come from Sri Lanka after the tea plantations were largely nationalised
Srilankan Airlines hostess greeting passengers in traditional fashion
Only Srilankan airhostesses greet visitors in the traditional fashion of "Ayubowan". Most people say "Hullo" or "Mokada Hullo?"

Buying Sri Lankan gems
Buying gems in Sri Lanka
See part two


crazylankabank bank card. The best APR around!
crazylankacard

Widely accepted...or should we say wildly accepted!
lonely planet travel guides
Lonely Planet produce the best serious travel guide to Sri Lanka


The history of Sri Lanka as re-written by Crazylanka

The Original Sri Lanka Madpage

Zany stories from Sri Lanka
Currency and Money Matters
The local currency is the Rupee. Rupees are divided into 100 cents but not many people can remember that!
Banknotes are not printed in a dirty brown colour contrary to popular belief amongst visitors.
Folding of banknotes is looked down upon. It is customary to crumple them instead. It is normal to have sellotaped repairs on low denomination notes.
Coins exist but are mostly collectors' items. It is permissible to drill holes in coins to use them as washers.
Banks and ATM cards: The Government run banks are worth a visit just to see how inefficient they are compared to private banks and foreign banks.
The Crazylanka card™ is widely accepted.
PART TWO: Food and Drink, Shopping, Entertainment and Public Holidaysnext
Stay with us folks! As usual this is a work in progress. We add more bits as we go along.
Customs:
Greetings:
A few Sri Lankans remember the old form of greeting "Ayubowan". Sri Lankan airhostesses are the only ones who regularly employ this form of greeting. A more common form of greeting is "Kohomada" or "Hullo".
The usual form of greeting reserved for foreign visitors is the extension of the right hand, palm upwards, whilst saying "Sir! Have you any dollars?". The correct response to this should be "Palayang Yako!"
Travel Tip ! : "Ayubowan!"
Ayubowan is the greeting that tourists use on the locals (and vice versa) which causes considerable amount of mirth.
Try saying "Ayubowan" to a bunch of giiggly schoolgirls!
Incidentally, it is NOT pronounced as "Are you born?"

National Dress:
Most men wear Western style clothes and it might be difficult to spot men wearing the national dress. Try the Parliament or the museum.
Some villagers wear the sarong. As underwear is not usually worn with the sarong ! do not be tempted to lift a sarong.

Smiling:
It is customary to smile broadly or giggle.
Contrary to popular myth, Sri Lankans have the same number of teeth as other races.
Copyright © 2004 Crazylanka.com. Crazylanka-McMalupaan Corporation. The Crazylanka/Crazyplanet logo consisting of a cartoonised map of Sri Lanka is also copyright. However, you may transmit copies of this page. This page first published on 20th November 2004.www.crazylanka.com is a non-profit making company and is part of the global non-American, non-profit making corporation: The McMalupaan Corp of Maradana Road (behind Hotel Du Roi) Punchi Borella, Sri Lanka. We are concerned about global pollution and other matters that our rivals the McDonalds Exxon Coca Cola Kentucky Fried Kukul Corporation ignore whilst making massive profits. Unfortunately we at Crazylanka don't make a profit. Bugger the environment!