Thanks to Blackchrome Sportswear and the SFNL, Mt Waverley FNC’s President Jay Cavanagh and I won an all-expenses-paid trip to Sri Lanka, to visit Blackchrome Sportswear’s factory. This is where our sporting apparel is produced. Also travelling with us as Blackchrome’s representative and all-round tour guide was Troy Beard, Blackchrome’s National Business Manager, who had obviously done this trip a few times.
Before we left, Troy gave us the low-down on a few things for our trip, including the itinerary:
Day 1: Depart Melbourne and arrive in Sri Lanka
Day 2: Relax and shop in Negombo
Day 3: Visit factory
Day 4: Visit Galle
Day 5: Relax and shop back in Negombo
Day 6: Head back home
He also told us about some of the customs to abide by, and that in Sri Lanka everything takes “20 minutes”.
In case you weren’t aware, Sri Lanka had a civil war that lasted for 26 years, which ended less than 10 years ago in 2009. It was advised by our own Government to avoid that area up until as recently as 2012. It was going to be interesting for us to see what state the country was in now, and how tourists are treated there.
Sri Lanka was also affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami which devastated the South and East Coasts (the same Tsunami that unfortunately claimed the life of Melbourne FC Player Troy Broadbridge). But the country has rebounded and flourished since these two events.
We left in the morning from Melbourne (10:30am Melbourne time) and arrived in Sri Lanka late that night (9:30pm Sri Lankan time) with a quick stop over in Singapore, where we took advantage of the Lounge Bar.
Once we arrived at Colombo Airport in Sri Lanka, we waited out the front for our driver (who was going to be transporting us around for the whole week) and were confused as to why a group of little kids kept staring and pointing at us. Their father came over to us and apologised, saying his kids don’t often see people from other countries. So I introduced myself to them as Donald Trump and told them “I’m here to make Sri Lanka great again” (just kidding).
Our driver Anura (one of the happiest blokes I’ve ever met) rocked up, and we roughly knew that the hotel was 40 minutes to an hour North of Colombo. We asked Anura how long it would take to get there this late at night, and you guessed it… he said “20 minutes”.
Passing through Colombo, it looked like every second lot of land was a place of worship, either being Christian, Buddhist or Muslim (70% of the country’s population is religious).
We made it to Jetwing Beach Hotel in Negombo, where we checked in for the night. It was a very nice place, right on the beach. It was summer time there – bloody hot – and we were all sweating like Dusty Martin at a music festival!