I love Sri Lanka!
After what can only be described as an unsavoury and unpleasant start to my journey to Sri Lanka, I was totally unprepared for our reception in Colombo. We had been told that Sri Lanka was one of the countries that still offered “Visa on Arrival” to citizens from Pakistan. Usually a Visa on Arrival process brings to mind long queues, a visa fee, copies of passport etc etc so I must admit that tired as I was, I was not looking forward to having to go through it.
So you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when I landed and was asked to proceed direct to the immigration counter. There I was greeted with a smile and a “good evening”. The official asked me why I was visiting and how long I would be staying. When I told him I would be there 5 days he said “very brief trip” and then proceeded to give me a 30 day visa – and that was it, in 30 seconds flat!
Then I proceeded to get my baggage and as I passed Customs, the customs official asked where I had come from and how long I was going to be there. Again there was a smile of welcome. I told him i would be there for 5 days and he said I should stay longer and enjoy the country, the food, the lovely lakes and the culture. I told him I wish I could but I had to get back to work. He nodded and asked me to enjoy my visit.
Now that is what I call a warm reception. It was absolutely unexpected (especially when traveling on a green passport) and made me want to visit Sri Lanka again. Serendib indeed!! Well done Sri Lanka! I love you.
I have been to Sri Lanka before – many years ago but in the current paraoid-heavy atmosphere, it is a pleasure traveling to a country that does not presume you “guilty” or labels you as a terrorist because you are from a particular country or region or you profess a certain faith.