From the book "Straight to the South", part 1 "Expedition to the heart of Sri Lanka", episode 1.
Rare case, we are going to fly from our native airport Manas and even at a convenient time at 9:00 am. Flight Bishkek - Delhi by Air Manas plane, ticket costs 149 USD, time in flight about 3 hours. Let's fly!
the Tien Shan fnd Pamir mountains are hidden by clouds, the mountains started to be visible only after an hour and a half later, when Afghanistan was under us. It was a Hindu Kush mountains, then foothills of the Himalayas and far away rising to the sky - main ridge with its giant peaks. The sky is just a background for Nanga Parbat peak (8125 m), further it could be seen Gasherbrum I (8080 m) and the northernmost and second highest of the world's giants - Chogori or K-2 (8661 m), ascent to which is fatal for every fourth climber..
Then the mountains under us were replaced by a minorhills, then it gone and the plain of continental India began - scattered among green fields settlements-stars, rivers and canals, threads of roads..
Building density increased closer to Delhi and here you are the metropolis is under us, where among the poor areas of old buildings, as high bushes among the grass, modern high-rise buildings have grown and wide highways lay straight..
Indira Gandhi airport, Terminal 3, New Delhi
We arrived at terminal 3 of Indira Gandhi Airport, we will fly from here to Colombo by Sri Lankan Airlines at 18:35. It is interesting: the time difference between India and Greenwich mean time is 5 hours and 30 minutes. And I had to correct my clock to half an hour ago. But more interesting time in Nepal, for example, the difference from our time is 45 minutes there. These are not the time zones but some way minute zones :)
We did not risk to send our luggage directly - different companies, porters can get confused. And because we had Indian visas with two entrances, we went through the customs, got the luggage and went out. Andwe came again, just got up from the arrivals hall on the second floor in the reception area. Here is the Indians control here, do not get spoiled, they allowed you inside only with printed tickets and strictly by passports. And if you are in – you will not allowed go out - the only way is to fly out. And when the interval between the flights is more than 6 hours to wait that the check is not very fun, but nothing helps you. Or, on the contrary, writhing travel book is very helpfull – so I sat and start to type. Meanwhile the men with guns on their shoulders walking near – there is a lot of paramilitary police at the airport, you can feel that you are in the troubled country - very likely islamic terrorists do some bad things – nobody else..
Well, registration starts, we have managed the first step. It's not without jokes here:
1) Again you need a printed ticket, the system got something wrong, the system didn't see us until guys typed our ticket numbers manually.
2) They demanded to show the credit card which was used to pay the flight but I in the morning put it in the secret pocket of the backpack and forgot about it, so it was some nervous. We almost going to rush to buy new tickets, but finally found the card :)
3) They didnt like the weight of my backpack, it is more than 10 kg but you can have only 8. I had to show them that there are cameras inside and they fragile for load deck (the Sri Lankan Airlines allow you as much as 30 kg of luggage to carry but I have less than 20)..
Any way we were checked, another time for today passed the Indian border and finally step to depature zone. Terminal 3 is new and quite large, there are some duty-free shops, cafes and bars here. Alcohol is expensive here: a mug of beer costs 12 Euros, a bottle of red Indian wine (the cheapest one) - 15 USD, but the Australian Shiraz is sold here at 120 USD. But in restaurants on the second floor you can have not expensive and quite good meal. There is a free Wi-Fi, but you need to find the boy near the Central Information Desk, he will scan your pass and passport and connec you, however, only for 45 minutes. In General, there was more fun for us here to wait for the flight :)
We arrived very well, for 3 hours 5 minutes, just on schedule. They fed us by delicious vegetarian food, good wine and juices. There was dark outside the window, I filmed almost nothing, only the cabin and the flight map and fragments of the movie on the seat-screen.
At the Colombo airport we were forced to obtain an electronic entry permit to Sri Lanka (ETA). We didn't know it could have been done in advance «online» for 35 USD, you can get it on arrival, but for 40 USD per person. Permits are for 30 days and reusable, you can arrive and departure without problems within this period .
When we have arrived nobody meets us at the door, they come a little late, but an airport employee helped us – he called the phone number that we had. Then a son of the owner of the hotel with a driver came for us. A distance about 150 km we overcame easy, the journey took a little over two hours, though typically, they said, is takes about 4 hours, just at night there are less cars. The roads are good, smooth, but almost everywhere only a two-lane, overtaking get risky, especially if there is a pair of long-truck before you - there are many turns, oncoming car appears suddenly.. We stopped to drink a cup of tea at a roadside canteen – bananas, indian 'roti', which translated from Sanskrit means "bread".. The tea was strong, black and delicious.
And somewhere on the road, our Canon G16 camera was damaged, somehow we crushed it unlucky. We found many cracks on the monitor and it will be difficult to film by it, especially under water, and only after the return we will try to fix it. Sadness! Well, we have a spare player - the old Canon G15..
Here is a brief video report about the day: