Signs and a few typical sights in Sri Lanka:
We’d just arrived back in Penang from Colombo. With only one hour ten minutes transit time in KL we wondered if our luggage would be loaded onto our Penang-bound flight. Particularly as all three bags were labelled fragile.
While waiting at the luggage carousel in Penang Airport we noticed no more luggage was appearing. Only a minute or two later a MAS employee strode over to tell us and a couple more passengers that there was no more luggage to be delivered. We were accompanied to a desk three metres away where the employee took details of flight origins, the bag descriptions and all the obvious details.
They said they had currently no information, but would phone us when they did. And that our luggage would be delivered to our home unless Customs wanted to examine it. In the latter case we’d have to return to the airport for luggage clearance by Customs. We had not exceeded any Customs limitations, so we certainly hoped we wouldn’t have to return to the airport. We went home, arriving about 10.30AM. That was easy as we had only our hand luggage to carry.
At about 3PM a private sedan pulled up at our gate – it was our luggage! Unfortunately only one bag still had the fragile sticker attached, and one of the others had a broken bottle, despite being securely wrapped. So, Customs didn’t bother us, and MAS delivered our luggage in a timely fashion, with the only sad thing being the broken bottle. We weren’t informed of progress at all by MAS, but I’m afraid that lack of communication is typical in Malaysia.
Last year I made a trip to Sri Lanka. Edward has asked me a couple of times if I would write a rough and ready evaluation of whether I would consider retiring there. So, just off the top of my head, here is a quick response.
I might consider it, but I would need to do a lot more research, and I think at the moment for me the answer would be , “no”. I liked travelling there, and kept on meeting people and families (often from the UK) who were having their third holiday there. But I am not sure about living there.
I don’t know the visa situation, nor the cost of rental, or the possibility of property purchase. Hotels were relatively expensive. Having only been through Columbo I don’t know the availability of any goods that I might want to buy if I was staying. This is also a problem in Malaysia – if it’s not a mobile phone or its accessories you want then it may not be so easy to find. I also don’t know if importing one’s household goods would be easy and tax-free.
Being an island I find Sri Lanka a bit isolated. I don’t know how many flights out there are, their availability and costs. I think there is now a ferry to India, too.
I don’t know how good Internet access availability is in general, but mobile Internet was cheap and speeds reasonable.
Domestic transport was cheap, but crowded, although the country roads seemed quite empty and the standard of driving reasonable. I haven’t checked the statistics on that, though. I’d have to check car prices. Tourist sites can be expensive to enter.
And it was quite annoying that it was too risky to use a credit card as reportedly so many people will copy the numbers and use them. So I never used a credit card there. And I only used an ATM there twice – the second time the bank stopped my ATM card as the ATM machine I’d used (in the middle of Kandy) had been used in the past for fraud. I had a backup card with another bank, but this could have caused a terrible problem when I was doing everything right, correctly, carefully and honestly.
What about the future of the economy and the stability of the currency? I don’t know.
Alcohol prices and availability are not so good, which may or may not be an issue. And I don’t know about health facilities, either, but apparently malaria is not a problem now.
Certainly it was easy just to communicate in English, the food was good and inexpensive, and the scenery and variety of scenery wonderful. It seemed safe enough, although there is sometimes political violence. If you don’t attend demonstrations you would likely have no problems.
So, after doing my research on these and other matters I still imagine probably would not want to retire there under current conditions.