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  • Writer's pictureKelly

Culture shock: welcome to Sri Lanka

Updated: Feb 25, 2020

Having spent the past 10 weeks in Sri Lanka, I've been submerged in the vibrant waters of their culture and emerged with new eyes for the exotic South Asia continent.

This morning, I ate my last traditional breakfast of string hoppers (noodles), dhal, coconut sambal and roti.

With a full belly and a heavy heart, I departed colourful Ceylon for its louder, brasher, bigger brother: India!


Here are 15 mad and wonderful paradoxes from my time on an island where:

1. Salt and pepper are in the wrong pots and your fresh mango juice is served salty 2. Where army road blocks are on all main roads but the police wave and smile as you pass 3. Where donkeys are beaten but the crows are fed 4. Where tuk-tuks drive like they're buses and the buses drive like they're on 3 wheels 5. Where the curry is cold and the beer is warm 6. Where the cold curry is 200 rupees but the tuk-tuk driver will charge 500 to take you there 7. Where monks clad in orange robes have begging bowls and mobile phones 8. Where the horn means anything from I'm coming, I'm going, I'm behind you or I'm in front of you to I'm beside you, I'm next to you, I'm angry, I'm happy or I'm alive

9. Where the first question is always 'where are you from?' and no one cares how you are

10. Where tuk-tuks and motorbikes can carry anything and there's no such thing as not enough space, just not enough imagination

11. Where there are more dogs than people and most of them are mangy (the dogs not the people)

12. Where restaurants have menu cards with 357 options but in reality, there's just fried rice 13. Where chicken isn't meat and fruit is used in curry 14. Where Jesus, Buddha and Ganesha are all friends but the Tamils and Sinhalese are still making up 15. Where helmets and speed limits are for the faint hearted, and only a fool would give way at a roundabout.

Tuk-tuk humour

These 3-wheeled vehicles are exempt from the general laws of physics and mechanical engineering: they veer around hairpin turns on one wheel, and their mass shrinks momentarily as they squeeze past anything slower than them.

The drivers decorate their vehicles with their favourite colours, films, quotes or relationship beliefs which gives you an insight into their personality.

The philosophical ones
You have to understand first and to be understood second
The inspirational ones
I don't want wings to fly
Every time GOOD LUCK
Peace begin with smile (double sword?)
The Cynics
You will never see the truth
Trust is a dangerous game
The relationship advice
I can't stop thinking about your smile; No money, No honey
No women No money No cry; Life is worthless without you

The broken ones

And the one with the chicken for a passenger...

Goodbye Sri Lanka. I'll miss you.

Next post (A 30 day motorbike tour of Sri Lanka)

Previous post (An illegal night walk through the forest)

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