You cannot say you've received the "full Lankan" experience as an expat unless you've had a run-in with Sri Lanka customs officials and a juicy story to share. Well, I have more than a couple of those, so it's a good time to start sharing. And while I'm doing that, I have some funny stories from friends to add to the mix too
When I first moved to Sri Lanka I shipped quite a few boxes containing my belongings from the UK. At that stage I wasn't sure how long I really wanted to stay, but in my mind I thought I'd give it a year to see how living and working in Sri Lanka would pan out. With this in mind I decided to ship over more of my personal belongings to give myself the best opportunity to settle in and make it feel like home. I had previously done expat stints in other countries, so shipping boxes filled with my belongings was not a new thing for me. I'd had very little difficulty (other than maybe a broken item in one shipment when I moved to Australia from the UK) and had little to no dealings with customs officials in these countries (other than filling out customs forms). Mostly, my belongings arrived safely to my doorstep. So, it came as a huge shock to navigate my way around clearing my boxes through customs in Sri Lanka the very first time!
I had shipped my boxes via a mainstream UK shipment company and when my boxes arrived into Colombo Port and had been unloaded, I was instructed to go to the shipping company's local warehouse located in some dodgy area. I can't remember the actual borough now, but its reputation was not a smidgeon close to that of Colombo 7 standing.
That first time I spent almost all day waiting to clear my boxes. There was paperwork to complete, photocopies of my passport and visa documents to provide and then plenty of waiting around...
** Please note, the full blog post has been removed as parts of the blog content will be edited for inclusion in an upcoming publication by the author. More information will be made available on the Adventures in a Tuk-Tuk Blog in due course **