Travel in off- season
With the ever present question of how to save money while travelling, I had the idea to comment on off season events. While the complete collection of stories might vanish in the longrun, I will give you a glimpse about the joy of it.
Things are by definition different to the budget traveller, compared to the all-inclusive type. Looking for cheap ways to continue the journey and making desperate decisions to avoid the crowds in a country like Sri Lanka, leads to comical as well as dramatic results.
Looking back on our one month stay in Mirissa, Simon and I agree that we profited from low rates for accomodation. On the flipside our host didn’t care at all about our wellbeing. We hadn’t applied through Booking.com or any other page that offers options to leave a review. We just appeared at his doorstep, negotiated a good price and used the communal kitchen. Moreover we were the only guests. The host in turn was not motivated to work at all. When the sink in our bathroom got stuck closed he shrugged his shoulders. The handle of the water tap in the kitchen broke, but he never cooked for himself, so there was no reason to repair it. Cleaning our room was left to us. Luckily soap bars for the bathroom were staked on a shelf in the kitchen, and we helped ourselves whenever we needed.
Things got heated up to a red level when the following happened: Simon and I used to cook dinner in turns. One evening he cooked, I would do the next day. I left a pot of cooked rice on the stove and forgot all about it. The third day, which would have been my day to cook again, we were out for dinner. The next morning the host caught Simon in the kitchen, holding the pot with rice right up to his nose, demanding him to clean the pots. There was no hospitality left and the atmosphere in the hotel never recovered. Honestly we thought about leaving Mirissa earlier, but were too much aware that the money we had payed in advance would be lost.
Other side-effects of off season travel are that many restaurants are closed. Or they offer only rice and curry, despite the fact that the menu states a huge variety of food. In every cafe waiters are in the majority to clients. The attention you get can be overwhelming. We once counted 10 waiters for six guests.
You are the main attraction in every village. Kids run to the fence of their garden and shout the few english words they know without expecting a reply. Moreover people you‘ ve never seen in your life before may come up to you and ask for a selfie.
On the streets, tuk tuk drivers are out to catch you. You are spotted everywhere, beeing the only tourist that might want and could pay the doubled fare for a sightseeing tour. I have been told that the crime rate rises in low season as locals can get desperate.
Back to the advantages of the low season. The beaches are empty. So are the cafes that decide to stay open and offer you a drink. On the verandas of closed establishments you often see a local looking at the waves, deep in thought about when and where he would go fishing again. The beach boys, young guys looking for easy prey in form of a single travelling woman, have disappeared. The waves are higher, and when it rains it you will be drenched in minutes more often than you will be able to enjoy a lazy day on a free chair at the beach.
Off-season travel gives you more than you might always want to see of the country. But it is a unique experience for half of the price.