Sri Lanka Travelogue (3) “Sri Lankan Temperament and Traffic Situation”

Let me write a bit more about my impression of Sri Lankans.

① They are broad-minded not only about time but also in conversations with people. Generally, debates or discussions don’t become confrontational. Even if you complain strongly about something lacking in a hotel at first, they will bow down to you so much that you gradually stop feeling aggressive and just end up saying, “It’s okay this time, but please get it right next time.” In some countries, it’s common never to admit a mistake or apologize, but Sri Lanka is the complete opposite.

② I had heard that in Sri Lanka, women often take the forefront and shine; it turned out to be true. Over half of the startup presentations and the de facto representatives of the companies I visited were women.

③ Perhaps because of that, the impression of men being “generously nice” is strong…!? If I were to phrase it negatively, they seem indecisive. The so-called “Sri Lankan time” seems more casual among men.

④ I believe these character traits are also reflected in the traffic conditions I’m about to describe.

<Traffic Conditions: Coexistence(?) of Cars, Tuk-Tuks, Bikes, and Pedestrians>
(By the way, Sri Lanka drives on the left side of the road, like Japan.)

Regarding the surprises I felt during our 1200 km chartered minivan tour:

① It’s typical for them to honk their car horns frequently, but there’s very little hint of annoyance or intimidation. It feels more like a warning, saying “I’m about to overtake, be careful” or “Move a bit to the side.”

② Therefore, people walking on the road, or nearby tuk-tuks and bikes, continue moving forward without any fuss, virtually ignoring the honking.

③ They do honk when faced with seemingly reckless cut-ins or vehicles turning from the opposite lane, but it’s more of an acceptance, letting the other vehicle pass.

④ They don’t pay much attention to lanes. Many cars drive spanning multiple lanes!

⑤ Turn signals are utterly unreliable. It’s typical for cars to have their signals on and not turn. And quite a few don’t use turn signals at all.

⑥ Changing the topic slightly, there are many vendors going around selling bread on three-wheelers similar to tuk-tuks while playing “Für Elise”. I woke up to this sound in the morning. It reminded me of the old tofu sellers, roasted sweet potato vendors, and ramen shops in Japan.

⑦ Because of the many bikes and tuk-tuks, there’s a lot of exhaust fumes. Many people seemed to wear masks, presumably as a countermeasure.

⑧ Japanese cars dominate the roads. Our chartered driver drove a HiAce and proudly expressed how much he loved it.


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