Yes, I – a white woman from Europe – went to Sri Lanka alone. I’ve always wanted to do it. Just take a backpack and go somewhere far away all by myself. Outside Europe, somewhere where the culture is completely different. I wanted to try myself out in the new situation – check if I can manage and if this kind of travel is for me? Or maybe it will overgrow me so I’ll hide under the sheet (it was a wrong assumption – there are no sheets in Sri Lanka) and during my stay I’ll not stick my nose out?
So I bought the tickets, I began to search for information about the country, I packed my backpack (before I reached the state of backpack nirvana, I re-packed about 12 times), I got on a bus to Prague, checked in at the airport, I got on a plane and …
And at that moment I realized that there was no turning back. I’m just sitting on the Emirates plane to Dubai and I’ll catch another to Colombo. The captain greets by microphone with passengers, the stewardess gives me a hot towel (I feel like the first time I left my home village – “what am I going to do about it?!” – but my reliable intuition suggested that in this case just do what others do – wipe yourself), my heart is in my mouth. Shall I shout to let me go or shall I face the great world, which wants either to hug me, or to eat me?
But hey, wasn’t it my dream? To check myslef, move the horizon? Gain new experience? Calm down, you silly, you wanted it! You are doing something amazing, something that not every woman would undertake. And most of all – you fulfill yourself!
Besides, I always believed that you have to try everything in life, just to say later that you’ll not repaet something, because it’s not for you.
So I decide to sit quietly and somehow I manage to even control the panic in my head. In the inner harmony I landed in Dubai, got excited about a super modern terminal of Emirates (on the walls they have big clocks with even bigger mark ROLEX underneath – I think I should make a separate entry about that), hassled in excitement two Polish girls who clearly wanted to get rid of me, however, my emotions interfered my real perception of the world so I couln’t read the signals sent by them, and finally – to their delight – I head towards my gate, get on another plane and flew to Colombo.
And now the only real adventure begins! 32 hours of the trip was enough time to get my adrenaline and fear turned into excitement and curiosity. I do not know yet, but the first 10 minutes after leaving the airport I learn how to be resourceful and assertive. Unconsciously I avoid being a victim of vultures who see me as a walking wallet (“Madam, taxi to Colombo, taxi to Colombo”). Fortunately for them, and unfortunately for me, what is delayed is not lost, and soon I let be befooled a few times.
What is actually not such a bad thing, because thanks to the cozen situations I became so self-assure and assertive that in the last week of my stay every conman shaked in fear of me.
But that’s not supposed to be talked today, but certainly it is strongly associated with traveling alone.
Harrasing and groping
Today’s entry was supposed to be about whether Sri Lanka is a suitable country for a white woman like me. And with my fair hair and steel eyes I’m probably more white than most European and American. In many countries, my type of beauty is quite exotic, which sometimes causes all sorts of teasing and embarrassing situations, for instance, hair or skin touching, asking if my eyes are real (that scares me the most, because you never know what a charlatan the person is and what he could do with my eyes…), or giving different marriage proposals (even in the presence of my husband).
And how I felt in Sri Lanka?
I guess it was just one of the reasons why I fell in love with this country. No one harrased me, undressed with the look, groped. I felt like they treated me like the air, though I know they glanced furtively. How wonderful!
Did I have some unpleasant situations? Few if it comes to cozening, but – as I said – it will be described separately. I wrote about a guy who accosted me in Dambulla. He did not do me any harm, however, his talking was so annoying that finally I had to tell him to leave me alone.
There was also one situation when I felt like a monkey in a zoo, but it’s not because of Sri Lankans but some Pakistani hipsters, who wanted to have 300 photos with me for Facebook. Needless to say that I looked lovely, so sweaty, tired of the heat and bored. And they took these pictures endlessly. One more, the last one! Man, get lost, I beg you.
Sri Lankans didn’t behave like that.
My friends told me that when they was in Delhi in India, people on the streets came across them on purpose just to touch them.
In Sri Lanka something like that didn’t happen to me, even in crowded Colombo.
Once when I was walking through tea estate, one older Sri Lankan woman, while passing me, greeted and grabbed my arm in such a way as someone friendly pats on the back.
The second time happened to me on the beach, when was sitting by myself and watched the ocean, a 5-year-old child came, touched my hair, then fled ashamed. Yes, little, it is real. 😉
However, I must stress that traveling has taught me not to provoke. Besides, it’s not important while travelling to show everyone your attributes, like wear shorts that barely cover up your ass.
White woman, shame on you!
Many women in journey behave as if they were at home. Too shamelessly show off their assets. It does not matter if it’s a country in Europe, the Middle East or somewhere further. I remember when we were in Israel and there was a woman not much younger than my mum, and she wore shorts exposing her buttocks. Leave aside the fact that she was with her husband (and as far as I remember a daughter, too), but at a certain age, when you got a bit too much body here and there, it is simply slimy and pathetic. It’s not even about how she looks, but what culture do you eplore and what do you sightsee. Where are you going with this uncovered ass, it’s Middle East and you’re just entering a church! You’re following, right? It’s about the respect!
I don’t like to provoke. I’m not saying that in Sri Lanka I was tightly covered with a cloth, but I tried not to attract attention. I don’t want to tempt the fate. I described already, that a lot of good things happened to me in Sri Lanka, but I also think by behaving respectively I was far away from the bad ones. Why draw attention to yourself? Especially when I’m alone somewhere at the end of the world?
Like one Czech girl, who started to talk to me on the beach in Unawatuna. I was just sitting alone, looking at the see, when she came, asked about something, we chatted a bit, and the girl said that she will go for a swim in the ocean. And that’s when I saw her taking out of the bag her bikini. I guess, I wanted to put it on.
Quickly I give her my big scarf, come on, girl, cover up, people look at you, women frown upon her big white ass and in their eyes you can see outrage, they turn heads around, men, on the contrary, I do not want to know what they imagine, but they lasciviously lick their lips but the Czech doesn’t worry, she shows her ass, tits, put on her bikini without embarrassment, as if it was a locker room at the pool, not a public beach in Sri Lanka. I understand that it’s a tourist beach, but still open for locals.
And I’m sitting next to her, and do not know where I can hide…
And then such women are harrased and it really doesn’t surprise me! Do you think that when you show your pussy, no one has the right to herres you? You give them that right, in the end you show that the most intimate parts of your body are available to everyone! Maybe at home you’re ok about nudity, but here is the end of the world – a different culture, other people, other customs. What a ignorance and a lack of imagination!
Some people should stay at home.
Fortunately, I did not have quite such a situation that someone assaulted me or gave me immoral proposals. If anyone started to talk already, usually it was a friendly question. (I’m not talking about souvenir sellers who wanted to sell me something, but I knew how to get rid of them, if I was not interested.) People were more curious about where I am from and how I like Sri Lanka, and not about my person as a single woman who needs a male company.
White woman must be from Holland
I remember when in Unawatuna one Sri Lankan in a jewelry store asked me:
‘Where are you from?’
‘Oh, good. There is a lot of Dutch here!’
Dutch? Why Dutch?
‘No, no. I am not Dutch, not Holland. Poland! I’m Polish!’
‘… Where is it?
‘Ummmmm… well between Russia and Germany …?’
‘Hmmm … And what currency do you have?’
‘Well … zloty…’
‘Zloty? Since when?’
‘I don’t know. Polish, Polish…?’
‘Oh… fine, let it be,’ I took a deep breath and for the first time in my life I said: ‘Polish is a bit like Russian…’
‘Aaaaaaaa! Russian! You could say that at the beginning!’
Don’t get me wrong: I like Russia, and Russian language and literature and ballet… But it’s like a Canadian had to say that he is American. Or even better – Scottish had to say that he is English. You know what I mean, right? 😉
Sri Lanka amazed me as well as its people. Not everyone in this opinion agrees with me, and I think about issues not related to money. I mean the sense of alienation and treatment as a monkey in a zoo, or rather the lack of it. While the Sri Lankans were specific and different, they seemed friendly for me. That’s the image of Sri Lanka I remember and that image I would like to pass on to others.
And what do you think of Sri Lanka and its people? Have you been there or maybe only heard about it? Maybe you’ve been in another country, which inhabitants seemed for you like Sri Lankan for me? And what about the women who provoke on the go? Share your thoughts in the comments!