On my way from Chennai, India to Colombo, Sri Lanka, I had an auspicious start by having my Jet Airways ticket upgraded to Business class while I was about to board the plane. I had already eaten a sumptuous breakfast a Saravana Bhavan in Chennai and had another good Indian vegetarian meal on board the flight. I don’t recall ever flying business class before. I always fly economy. I was very comfortable in the big chair. I sat alone, while the seat next to me was vacant.
Colombo airport is also good. The only bad impression I gained was the Sri Lankan immigration officer smoking a cigarette in the male toilet. I complained to him and he said he had permission from the cleaners. I complained to his boss and his boss went to see but laughed – no visible consequence. I got a taxi to Ranjit’s Ambalarama. Ranjit welcomed me and gave me a room with a shared bathroom. I hadn’t booked very far in advance. I went book shopping and spent about A$250 on a large pile of Buddhist books. I even got copies of the Majjhimanikaaya and Sa.myuttanikaaya which I had given away in Myanmar.
I have a very good impression of Sri Lanka so far. There are fewer people, there is less congestion, the streets are cleaner, there is less dust and smoke in the air, there are many more trees and the people are relatively friendly and relaxed compared with India. I am glad to be here.
On arrival at the airport, I was given a 30 day visa. I extended this to 90 days so I have potentially longer for my meditation retreat.
I plan to take a train to Kandy on Monday, then go to Nauyana meditation centre on Wednesday to begin the samatha meditation retreat. More information on Sri Lankan meditation monasteries is here and here (pdf).