Let us overcome jungle law with justice, barbarism with courtesy,
foolish family nepotism with noble wisdom.
Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Agiant yellow Buddha beams down on arrivals at Colombo's main airport, making a first photo opportunity for tourists ignoring the bright red sign with a cross through a camera.
Airport security isn't minded to enforce rules. The crowd masses its way toward the immigration booths, uncertain of who lines up where. Passports are stamped without questions.
It's a relief. Sri Lanka had the longest visa process of all ten countries, keeping my passport for 12 days.
We pass through a long corridor to baggage reclaim. Fridges, washing machines and TVs line both sides. I'm wondering who would buy a fridge from the airport, but plenty of money is changing hands. It's all tax-free. Many will end up being sold on for a profit.
Minutes later I'm gliding along an open road to the city center. It's Monday morning, the busiest time to arrive in Colombo, but there are no traffic jams. The new Airport Expressway has cut the journey to a third of the hour-and-a-half it would have been only a few months earlier. A 300 rupee ($2.30) toll limits vehicles to the time conscious.
The radio plays “YMCA” and “Pretty Woman” – “music for cruising around the emerald isle” – as we cross ...