Flew Heathrow - Colombo - Trivandrum with Sri Lankan Airlines. The main flight was 10hrs 45mins and exhausting, not helped by an additional two hour wait on the tarmac before take-off to fix a fault. Still, better safe than sorry! I chatted with an interesting guy ("JK") from Sri Lanka who was studying Disaster Management at Coventry Uni. 35 yo and, up till now, a permanent student. He had another year to go until qualifying and returning home to his wife and hopefully a government job in a new disaster relief department.
At 10:30a.m. I finally got out TRV airport after exchanging £50 at a crap rate but I wanted to have cash immediately (India Rupees are a closed currency, not available outside India). I was met by my old friend, Justin Hawar, a taxi driver, who took me for my first chaia (tea), and then to Baker's Resort Hotel in Kovalam.
With the help of Sherief, an employee at Bakers Resort, I managed to fix myself up with an AirTel Lifetime SIM card (the only condition being that I have to top it up at least every six months). And with the help of Justin I visited a potential accommodation... but really it wasn't suitable. 500Rs a day (about 15,000Rs a month or about £200) for a room in a shared house. It was very comfortable and well-appointed, but much too expensive for me. I want to pay about 6000Rs a month (£80) for a small self-contained apartment.
As I write this I spotted a big black creature out of the corner of my eye, scurrying across the floor. Turned out to be a huge cockroach! I eventually tracked it down, hiding inside a wooden chair, hoiked it out and dispatched it. Yuck!
Have to say I'm feeling a bit down. Meeting the SISP kids didn't magically make up for leaving my children, friends, work and home in England. I'm expecting too much, I know, and I'm jet-lagged. Still, I was able to text my daughter and some old friends, and their replies kept me afloat.