Evidently, I fly to Sri Lanka tomorrow night. Well, first to Abu Dhabi for a day, then onto Colombo. In keeping with my recent tendency of minimalist travel prep (read: laziness) I’ve prepared for Sri Lanka by looking at my packing list and trip notes about a week in advance. And of course, securing my visa. I’m somewhat on top of things, even if I had no idea where I was going until two nights ago. Except Colombo, I knew that. My lackadaisical preparation however, does not represent my level of excitement. I can’t wait to touchdown, meet my fellow travelers and go explore! And then onto meeting family in India, where I am much more prepared, which is probably best when three other people are depending on me to make sure they have somewhere to sleep.
First I’m headed to Abu Dhabi, because that’s where my connection is. I opted for an extra long layover (on Etihad!) so I could briefly explore a city in the UAE, which to be honest, is generally pretty low on my travel list. Oman on the other hand, I’d love to visit. But a brief wander around the city, a visit to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and perhaps a run along the corniche where I’ve secured a day room, will have to suffice (for now) as my first introduction to the Middle East. Then it’s on to Colombo to meet the other members of my Intrepid crew.
After a very positive experience using Intrepid in India I figured this was the best way to see a country when I didn’t really feel like planning all that much (clearly), while meeting other travelers and having logistics taken care of. Prior to my last India trip I was staunchly anti-tour. But intrepid (and other companies like them) are independent enough that I don’t feel like I’m being herded around (you’ll still never catch me on cruise. Just. No.). Plus, having a local guide ensures I can ask about all of the food and, you know, historical or cultural things, too. But mostly, food. In India I was the only one who was really interested in culinary exploration and our guide pretty much catered our food choices to me (aka: we ate a lot of street food and people were willing to prepare things with spices despite my glaring whiteness at Ravi’s insistence). I’m excited to explore Sri Lankan food, go hiking, biking, and generally just wander around a country distinctly different than my own. And be warm in the winter, that doesn’t hurt either, as long as the daily thunderstorms aren’t too disruptive. But hey, warm rain is better than cold rain!
After two weeks in Sri Lanka I’ll be heading back to Delhi and Rajasthan. Though I’ll be revisiting many of the same cities, we’ll be exploring in a very different manner, plus I’ll be with family, not a tour group. And we’ve added a few new, off the tourist-trail locations in as well. I’m very excited to introduce India to everyone, a country I loved visiting, despite it’s hassles and assaults on the senses (or maybe, in part because of these things). I found India to one of the most exhilarating countries I’ve ever visited. And definitely worth going back to, which for me, and my ridiculously long “to visit” list is rare indeed. They say you either love or hate India, I am firmly in the “love” category, and I hope after this trip, everyone else will be too!
As usual, I’ll update as I can from my iPad!