Lanka Shopping:

Colombo has a lot to offer to shoppers, so keep at least one day aside for shopping. Peta, the street shopping haven, is at Colombo city. It’s a five minute walk from Colombo city railway station. Ask for directions along the way. In fact there are tones of street stalls (like the Colaba street market), selling belts, wallets, tops and the like on the way too, so ditch the auto and stroll along. The rates are dirt cheap but you may not find too much variety in terms of fashion. Cotton skirts and shirts for kids (aged 3-5 years) are available for as little as 50 Sri Lankan Rupees (SLR). That makes it 25 INR! No need to bargain, right? Again, the finish is not great, so no matter how hard you look, every piece will have strings of thread hanging loose or a stitch that was not right.  

Luckily, we chanced upon an export store, stacked with tones of dungarees for 250 SLR (125 INR). I bought a beige cotton pair. But there were variants in denim and corduroy as well. And high-waist multi-coloured shorts. Apart from this, we didn’t get lucky!

House of fashion: Must visit store. The best part is that there is a currency exchange counter at the store itself. Clothes for men, women and kids, kitchen items, show pieces, wallets, cuff links, bags, laptops bags, jewellery, toys, footwear, House of Fashion has it all. And you’ll probably get the most ‘original fakes’ here. I got a pair of LV cuff links for 600 SLR (approx). The labels of tops were holed through… just in case you’re looking to gift stuff from here.

Address: 28, R. A De Mel Mawatha, Colombo 5.

Odel: One of the first malls in Colombo. It’s pretty much like our Shoppers Stop outlets, with clothes, shoes and jewellery to offer.

CAUTION: I bought a stunning necklace, to gift to a friend. I paid around 500 INR for it and the chain, originally golden in colour, turned black, within 15 days. Sniff, sniff.

Lakmedura: Visit for masks, keychains, T-shirts and other souvenirs.

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Lanka Train ride:

Don’t miss this one. There is a railway station located at a stone’s throw away from Mount Lavinia Hotel. A ticket to Fort at Colombo city will cost you Rs 15, per head, one way. The station is deserted, mostly. But the crowd increases when the train is nearing the city. The Colombo railway station is very similar to CST station in Mumbai. To get out of the station premises, you have to climb down a flight of stairs, surrounded by hawkers and beggars. This stretch will remind you of Dadar railway station. The train we boarded was not an electric one, but one that ran on coal. Bet you thought coal trains were extinct, eh? The compartments were spacious with seats at the circumference of the compartment and not in multiple rows, like in the Mumbai local trains. That leaves ample space for passengers to stand comfortably.

Don’t even think of rushing into a train without a ticket. No matter how much you pray, you will find a ticket collector at the exit points of every station. People have to queue up, hand over the ticket to the collector, and then go out. The tickets are unmarked and therefore reused. My friend wanted to keep a ticket as a souvenir. The collector crossed the ticket and gave it to him. Simple!

Sri Lanka The view:

The best thing about my l’il trip to Sri Lanka was the view from my hotel room, Mount Lavinia Hotel at Mount Lavinia. There are some who scout for the most inexpensive hotel rooms, and though I’m all for a comfortable stay, I don’t believe in splurging on five stars either. A decent hotel will do.But with a view like that this (check pictures), I wouldn’t mind shelling out those extra bucks.

We started at awesome, then realized it was breathtaking and by the time we moved out, our choice of adjective for our room with a view shot up to ‘out of this world’.

It’s been a month since I returned and I still have occasional dreams about the view from my hotel balcony. Sigh! BTW, it’s purrrrfect for honeymooners.