I love Sri Lanka!

April 17, 2011 at 6:27 pm 6 comments

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.

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Are people really apathetic? Intimidation on home soil!

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Nadeem Ahsan  |  April 19, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Jehan,

    And imagine if this was India. You would be subjected to scrutiny like no one’s business. Frowns, stares, an unwelcoming attitude, outright hostility in some cases. The hotel staff become cold when you say you are from Pakistan. Unwlecome visits by intelligence sleuths to hotels, long wait for the dreaded visa,visas only for short trips, visas to particular cities only etc etc. Makes you feel why people ever want to Visit that country at all. Shouldn’t we all be going to places like SL instead.

    And this is how the SLanks treat you even after so many of their players almost got killed in a shoot out in Lahore years ago. May be the world has some lessons to learn from these wonderful people.

    Reply
  • 2. Jehan  |  April 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Nadeem, I have made business trips to India many times and I have to disagree with you about the unwelcome attitude and unwelcoming attitude especially of hotel staff when they hear that I am from Pakistan.

    However, you are right about the warped visa process and the long immigration process and yes I was visited on one occasion by the CID. Remember one thing though – this is all reciprocal. Both countries need to fix this.

    I agree that the Sri Lankans need to be lauded for still being as warm and welcoming as they are – all countries can learn from them.

    Reply
  • 3. I love Sri Lanka! | Tea Break  |  April 19, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    […] I love Sri Lanka! […]

    Reply
  • 4. Adeel Ijaz  |  April 26, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Srilankans generally are nice by nature and they consider Pakistanis as their friends. Similar is the case with china. People in china have a pleasant smile if they come to know that the person they are meeting is a Pakistani.

    Reply
  • 5. Priyanthi  |  May 18, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Glad to note that the friends from PK had a warm welcome at the Sri Lankan immigration. Yes, indeed we are a warm society.
    For information on nationals who do not require prior visa to enter the country, you may refer up this url from the SL immigration website.
    http://www.immigration.gov.lk/web/images/stories/pdf/12_01/schedulea.pdf

    Reply
  • 6. Jahanzaib Khalid  |  June 16, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Wow! i am very much glad to know that still some countries warmly welcome Pakistanis without any prior offense of long awaited Visa policies and stuff like that. Anyways have you enjoyed your stay there i heard that Sri Lanka is great place to travel around

    Reply

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