One of the cool things about living in Pakistan is that you are smack in the middle of South Asia. What this means is that if you want to get away for a few days to celebrate a friend’s birthday, you can easily jet off to the Himalayas, Dubai, Thailand, or Sri Lanka. Dubai is boring unless you like wandering around cavenous, freezing malls containing only stores you can’t afford. The Himalayas are awesome but you are definitely going to be delayed by an extra day or two when you try to return (due to “weather” “overbooking” or “computer problems”: thanks PIA), and Thailand is a dream but was hit by severe rains a couple weeks ago.
That left Sri Lanka! Our group of three cancelled our tickets for flooded Koh Samui and made new ones for Colombo with only four days to spare. We got hotels, ordered taxis, packed our beach bags, and in one short flight from Karachi we were there.
The trip was special because I will be leaving Pakistan in two weeks and returning to the U.S. My job has finally ended and it’s time to go. I hope that I will be back, but for now it is goodbye, and goodbyes always make me sad. So I couldn’t pass up the chance to go away with two of my best friends that I made over the last two years here. I also found out I don’t get any compensation for unused vacation days: perfect time to go!
We stayed one night in busy, bustling Colombo that didn’t seem all that different from Lahore or Karachi but offered a gorgeous old colonial estate-turned-hotel that made us feel like Mick Jagger. We took advantage of the jacuzzi on the porch and the 20 foot ceilings before heading down the coast to Bentota.
Sri Lanka is lush, green, and bursting with fresh fruit like papayas and sweet bananas. The people are friendly and hospitable and the prices are good. Our hotel in Bentota didn’t have air conditioning or a TV, but had a gorgeous open-air bathroom and the lovely, relaxed vibe of a fancy spa with flowers at every turn and palm fronds in the shower.
We talked and laughed, reminisced and predicted, drank fresh pineapple juice, played Ludo, went snorkeling and ate grilled prawns on the beach with Sri Lankan flatbread slathered with tomatoes and onions. I didn’t think about having to leave in two weeks, about saying goodbye to so many wonderful people, about the movers coming and getting my security deposit back and closing out my work files, and about starting over to build a home somewhere else. It was a good vacation.