Sri Lanka Driving Tips – Don’t!

Sri Lanka Driving Tips – Don’t!

We thought we would share a personal blog from our Group MD, published while he was working on the ICC World T20 in Sri-Lanka

Heres the only lesson you need to know about driving in Sri Lanka.

I had to head South to a village called Hambantota yesterday to check on the progress of our preparations and make sure my team had settled in, and not scared off the locals – yet!

Lets just say my life flashed before my eyes, so many times I’m contemplating suggesting legislation that all Sri Lankan car dashboards display an epilepsy wanring!

Normal traffic patterns in Sri Lanka
To be fair, geographically the journey seemed to be a walk in the park – 200kms of scenic splendour, the odd stop off for some coconut milk plucked straight from a tree, and possibly some cultural dancers welcoming you to the end point with a litre of Arrak to quench your thirst….what could go wrong?
The reality of the journey can only be likened to a terrifying roller coaster. Overtaking, swerving for cows (yes, cows), the odd heartstopping on coming bus bearing down on you like a transformer on crack (Was Optimus Prime Sri-Lankan?) and the certain knowledge of impending death beckoning at every one of the 3 million turns.

Lets just say that i think i know where the famous “Long and Winding Road” that the Beatles so eloquently penned actually is – and it is frankly more a Rammenstein death metal angry-shouty song, than the sweet children’s TV melody they delicately make it out to be …

Just to be clear, I live in Africa – I am not a European sissy who has a mild thrombosis when someone passes me doing 3 mp/h over the speedlimit, tutting into my nanny state supplied box of tissues and phoning the state police to set up the spikey strips. No, living on the dark contient, I am totally used to large Nigerians bearing down in me in a mini-bus taxi with more no steering wheel and more sub bass than AvaStar night club (google it – its worth it)…but driving in the sub continent is something else entirely.

Cowering under the dashboard, after the almost certain 45th head-on-collision I created 5 rules to live by (or remain alive by) when travelling in this glorious country.They are, in no particular order detailed below.

Tuk Tuks are cool
  1. Never, ever, look Out The Windscreen – I found surprising solace in watching the cars, vehicles and tuk-tuks that we had just missed, disappearing into the distance behind us POST potential accident. Looking out the front window all you see is the impending and potential incident that may occur.
  2. Never Distract Your Driver – I found ours was quite distracted enough by phone calls, animals, head-on collisions and as a distinct afterthought – actually driving … to worry about my inane tourist banter like “what is that growing there” and “can we stop at the next temple, i need a deity in my life”
  3. Use Tuk-Tuks – these small three wheelers are, in a weird, demented, “survival of the fittest” sort of way the most reliable and quickest way to cover small distances as they nimbly fit around, alongside and occasionally under most obstructions.
  4. Stop Stressing – in much the same way that i feel, many of the passengers on the Titanic at some stage stopped worrying about James Camerons’ camera crew and just thought “oh-fuggit”…you need to adopt much the same approach to any journey on the sub continent. Clenching your butt cheeks, or biting the dashboard indeed offer comfort, but supply no practical change to the outcome of the Video Game playing itself out through the windscreen. The sooner you reconcile the fact that you are simply along for the ride, the better.
  5. Enjoy the Ride – Life is indeed a journey and occasionally, just once in a while the ride IS the journey!
Onwards and Upwards.

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