Visiting Colombo has been totally meh. I don’t hate it, but it’s also the epitome of nothing special. I can definitely see why people visiting Sri Lanka tend to get the hell out of the city.
Colombo weirdly reminds me of a bizarro version of Miami, where I’m from. It’s hot as fuck, and basically just a waterfront high-rise construction paradise. We’re staying in one of probably hundreds of niceish hotels like you would see on Collins Avenue on South Beach. And outside of that, it doesn’t have much to offer. It looks like a busy generic city where I could work for one of a million banks or sweat my ass off selling kites on the waterfront park, Galle Face Green.
Women are basically second-class citizens. It’s obvious by how few of them are out living their own damn lives without being on the arm of a guy. So being a woman who likes to get around alone, it seems like it would be exhausting to be surrounded by dudes all the time.
When I think about whether I could live here, I can’t help but think about our first ridiculously spicy meal coming out as equally spicy liquid at a squat toilet outside a museum. I’m trying to have a sense of humor about it, but I don’t wanna relive that. The food has been good but too damn spicy, and it’s definitely not sitting well with me. I also hate that I can’t drink tap water. That’s a dealbreaker for me. Buying water bottles constantly is annoying and is bad for the environment.
I think people here are generally way more reserved than I expected them to be based on other countries in Southeast Asia. Part of the reason might be that they don’t want to appear too forward because I’m a woman, which is annoying because I don’t wanna be condescended to. But it also makes me think they’re less happy for some reason. I feel like there’s a certain friendliness that people have as a result of being really jovial. And there isn’t a lot of that here. I don’t see a lot of people smiling at each other, and when I try to be friendly, I’m sort of met with a quiet stoicism which makes me feel ridiculous for trying.
The only thing I’ve really loved about Colombo is their Uber situation. Not only can you easily get an Uber anywhere in the city, you can also grab a tuk tuk for as low as 30-50 cents if it’s a short distance. No haggling, no fumbling with unfamiliar bills. You just have someone come pick you up wherever you are and drop you off where you need to be. It’s great. Other than that, it’s really too hot to be walking around the city.
A couple of other things I enjoy also have to do with general convenience. They take credit cards everywhere, which is great because I hate carrying cash. They also mostly speak English, which makes sense since it was under British rule until World War II. Colombo is also really clean. I would say it’s one of the cleaner Southeast Asian cities I’ve visited, and it’s in close proximity to a lot of beaches is also a plus. Aside from that, it doesn’t hurt that it’s cheap.
I hate the weather. I don’t wanna live in this kind of weather in my hometown so I most definitely would never move halfway across the world to another muggy city where 86 degrees feels like a blistering 94.
The city also has horrible air quality. Everything is hazy all the time no matter how long the sun has been out. There’s tuk tuk exhausts and buses everywhere and whatever is going on at the port polluting the air. It’s not terribly pleasant.
Total Livability Score 2/10
The only reason it’s not a 1 is because I would love to tuk tuk everywhere for the rest of my life. But I would never in a million years choose to live in Colombo.