An excellent start. Sri Lankan airways took good care of my bike. I had removed the handlebar, rear mech and pedals. The frame was padded with pipe liners and the whole thing was popped into a CTC plastic bag. I was a little overweight on my luggage and paid an extra £20. Interestingly and on the advice on my brother I had taken my NewYork bike lock in my carry on bag. But the officials would not have it and called it a blunt heavy object. So I had to go back through to the check in and submit it as luggage. The Sri Lankan check in staff would not take it alone even in a stuff pack. But suggested I put it in my hand luggage and they would take that as baggage with no extra charge. That worked out fine although I did miss having a few items with me on the plane.
The flight was great. A little cramped in economy which was not helped by my largish neighbour who spilled over into my seat space. This made eating the in flight meals a little difficult as my arms were somewhat pinned to my sides. I guess this is one of the joys of flying cheaply.
Colombo airport was relatively small and a few hundred metre walk took me to the immigration desk. Everyone needs to fill in a small form to present with their passport. It asks for the address to stay. Since all my extra documents went with my checked luggage I had to rely on my accommodation confirmation email. At this point O2 decided I was out of data allowance. Oh dear… I simply wrote down the address as I could remember it although I got the house number wrong. But it was fine to get through passport control.
At baggage reclaim my bike had been placed by the conveyer belt before I got there so I think it had been specially carried there. Everything looked fine. Once I had got out of that area with my bags and changed some Sterling to Sri Lankan Rupees I set about reconstructing my bike. I drew a small audience and felt like I was doing some kind of product demonstration. I noted the rear cantilever brakes had taken a little pressure but were still intact. Everything was fine and my fear that the wheels and spokes might have taken a beating quickly evaporated. I bought and swopped in a new nano sim from Etisalat on my phone from a stand in the arrival lounge.
Traffic along the main road leading into Colombo was busy. I quickly got used to the slightly anarchic way everyone drives. Everyone is surprisingly careful but you do need to have your wits about you. Tuk tuks, lorries, buses and scooters all mingle well. Nothing moves too quickly which allows for careful judgement. This in turn allows people to engage in all kinds of manoeuvres which would be frowned upon back in the UK. In some respects I felt safer than in London traffic where everyone hurtles with abandon providing they are driving to the rules and often over the speed limit.
I went through to the centre of Colombo and the Main St. stopping only for a bottle of 7up and to speak to some motorcycle cops. The police were quite friendly and had stopped me out of curiosity. It was humid and rained a little. It felt like monsoon weather.
Once past the Galle Face Walk and where I got my first view of the Indian Ocean, I found the Galle Road heading South. It is a nasty busy commercial road with little to recommend it. As the light faded I walked my bike the last mile or two into the coastal suburb of Mount Lavinia.
The home stay accommodation I had booked is basic but very good and quite private. I have a ground floor double room with en suite shower room. It is next to a large kitchen. All is for guests but aside from the delightful proprietor I did not see anyone else. Quiet and comfortable. A great way to end an exciting first day.