Thirty-six hours is rarely enough time in a city, but sometimes one needs a mini getaway or a stopover to break-up in an insane flying schedule. A gateway city to many destinations in Asia, Hong Kong is a relatively easy destination: English is prevalent throughout the city, the transit system is vast and easy to use, and there is a large expat community — at times making it feel like you’re in a western country.
It takes a lot for me to admit defeat. I’m Irish, English, and Scottish, so naturally I blame my heritage for my stubbornness and desire to ignore advice from fellow travelers who I consider negative or aggressive. And by aggressive I mean they tell me a place sucks and that I should go elsewhere, and I promptly make a note to ignore them and go anyway. Childish? Maybe, but that is how I roll. There was no way I was going to end up being intimidated in Colombo.
When you’re traveling, tired, and need to get from point A to point B, you may not look at the big picture, but you should. It can make a world of difference. Plus, who wants to arrive at a new destination feeling tired and grumpy? I know I don’t!
I cried the day I had to leave China and fly back to my retail management job. I cried while I sat on the curb under the dark morning sky in Xi’an, waiting for a taxi. I cried when I boarded the plane in Beijing. I cried when I stood on the escalator in Calgary and realized that I was about to step back into a life filled with stress and exhaustion. I gave my heart to Asia.
[video width="400" height="300" mp4="https://pamelamacnaughtan.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Bus-from-Beijing-to-Erlien.mp4"][/video] "China? WHY are you going to China?!" my boss exclaimed, "There was a seat sale", I replied calmly. And I was calm. In fact, that moment was the most calm I had been in months. Plus China was the furthest place I could go.
A granite Hindu temple. It sounded cool when my tuk tuk driver mentioned it to me, but I didn’t realize just how cool it was until I was standing in front of it. It was like walking into a temple from Raiders of the Lost Ark, or Lara Croft Tomb Raider, except this temple, was not covered in squishy green moss, or surrounded by ancient trees, it’s not in the middle of nowhere, it’s in the heart of Colombo.
It’s been raining on and off today, but that hasn’t stopped me from climbing into a metered tuk tuk, in search of a local fruit and vegetable market in Pettah. Pettah is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Colombo. The buildings are worn, and crumbling (as they are in many parts of the city). Most of the buildings are a dirty cream colour, or a grimy grey, however, there are occasional splashes of colour, then have also become grubby-looking over time. This is a common sight in not just Sri Lanka, but many third world countries. Cities and towns that are old, and worn.
I should have done a little more planning before arriving in Colombo. I knew where I was staying, as I had done a little research online earlier in the week. The area seemed nice, online, and in reality, it was pleasant. Nothing was overly run down, there was a beach, the ocean.
Student: "You have Justin Bieber on your iPod?" Me: "Umm, no. I don't listen to a lot of Pop music." Student "But he is very good, yes?" Me: "Oh yes, very good." That's the part where my Pinocchio nose would have sprouted and grown into a bloody forest. However, I was not in North America where my response would have been thick with sarcasm. I was in Mongolia. Thousands and thousands of miles away from mass media influences and public perceptions. In this way, Mongolia seems young and innocent. Untouched.