Neil: Our Colombo Tuk-Tuk Driver

Something I want to gain from travelling is to meet people from all over the world, as it is with most travellers I’m sure. Although, being a photographer, I wanted to utilise this experience to also get more in tune with photographing people in the street. I have experience when it comes to shooting in the studio but the studio allows time and control over lighting where as the street is fast paced, exhilirating and a split second can be the difference between the perfect shot and a missed opportunity.

So I’ve decided to set myself a little bit of a challenge with a photo series based around the people I meet. I’ve noticed a lot of travel blogs are very much about the experience of the people who are travelling, and whilst that will still be a part of the blog, I think it will also be interesting to document the people we meet (or at least some of them).

So this is the start of that project, I hope you all enjoy!

Introducing Neil: Our Colombo Tuk-Tuk Driver

Now, before heading to Sri Lanka I was given advice regarding travelling around the cities. That advice was to be careful of tuk-tuk drivers overcharging, and to try to get a driver who will basically stay with you for the day taking you from place to place. So we almost immediately failed with the first bit of advice in Colombo, as we were charged around 1,200LKR (Sri Lankan Rupees) for around a twenty minute trip to the centre from the hotel. Saying that, we’re in a new country and it’s hard to realise you are getting a bad price when 1,200LKR equates to around 6 British Pounds… We later got the same taxi for 300LKR which is approximately £1.50. Yes, thats a quarter of the price.

Either way we were now a bit more clued up as to how much transport would cost and so we reviewed the advice given again… “Get a decent driver”. Luckily, we succeeded as we met Neil outside Colombo Train Station after he spotted using looking hot, sweaty and very confused. We had a few places to tick off our ‘let’s be tourists’ list so we headed to the destinations Charlotte has had written down for weeks.

Along the way, Neil began to talk to us asking us the usual “Where are you from?”, “How long are are you in Sri Lanka?”. But it wasn’t long before he was telling us of his failed attempts at becoming a cricket star in his youth as we drove past some playing fields. He said that nowadays he would much rather watch than play, to which I responded “Do you go watch the teams play?”, to which his response was “Oh no, I sit at home with some Lion beers and watch from my couch, much better view” with a chuckle.

One of the places Neil suggested we visit was Independent Memorial Hall, which is a monument built to commemorate Sri Lanka’s independence from British rule. When arrived at the monument there was a wedding taking place within the actual hall. Neil turned to us and said “Are you two getting married soon?” “Because my daughter does hair, makeup, veil and everything you need to look beautiful my darling” pointing to Charlotte. He spent the next five minutes telling us how amazing his family were and that he was so happy to be with them.

It was the level of openness and genuine interest he had which made him an great guide who I would 100% recommend (we also have his number for anyone who wants a cheap guide whilst in Sri Lanka). He must of drove us around for around 3 hours explaining every monument and point of interest within the city to us, and he charged us 2,500LKR which equals to around £12.50. It was completely worth it, and we managed to see so much in just 3 hours.

Here’s to Neil the tuk tuk driver!

– George


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