Sri Lanka to India

Colombo’s International Airport is quite nice and modern. Unfortunately, getting there isn’t so comfortable on the public city bus. There is a new train station there, but it hasn’t been opened yet.

I took a flight on Mihin Lanka, a new budget airline, to Varanasi, India. I was one of 7 passengers on the Airbus A320, which has a capacity of 152 passengers. It was so strange, I felt like I was on a private aircraft. I was also surprised when they gave me free mango juice and a meal.

I’ve was fearing the day when I had to land in India. I’ve been researching how to get from the airport to the city, hoping there is some kind of bus. When I arrived, the international terminal of the Varanasi airport appeared to be smaller than the total area of the airplane I was exiting. Next, I needed some money. There were no ATMs at the airport, so I was forced to use a money changer service. The rate was poor and there was a huge commission, but I had no choice.

Next, I walked out of the airport and saw no bus, no cheap auto rickshaws, only taxis. It was evening and the sun already set. My first choice was bus, my second was to share a taxi, but with only seven passengers that seemed near impossible. The people outside said the pre-paid taxi stand has closed too. But I did get a verbal agreement on a price of Rs. 500 to Sarnath, a smaller city outside of Varanasi. Again, I have no choice. I got in a taxi and after a while, the owner of the taxi got in the car, he showed his ID and kept telling me not to worry. When someone keeps telling you to trust them and to not worry, it sends a red flag to me.  The owner tried get me to hire the car for the following day and also tried to get me to stay somewhere else. I told him, “You don’t tell me where to go, I tell you where to go. I’m the customer.” A while later, the owner says he needs to pick up his father, and he gets into the car as well. Finally, I did arrive in Sarnath and he said the price was Rs. 800 because the taxi had to bypass some construction. I thought no way and went out into the town to try to get exact change and pay that. I pay Rs. 500, walk into the guest house and lock the door. He follows and knocks on the door, not giving up. I think we finally agreed on Rs. 650 (about $14) with the help of some people inside the guest house and he left.