Friday, July 25, 2014

An expat in Sri Lanka: the Good, Bad and Ugly - Part 10

I've been traveling out of the country this month, so I've been more reflective than usual on my expat life in Sri Lanka. My recent post on "Turning Lankan", probably gives you a fairly good idea about some funny things that have been happening. Luckily, I haven't felt any pangs of "expat fatigue" this year, of which I blogged about in part 5 of an Expat in Sri Lanka. It's good to feel blessed about the little things when there is so much upheaval and violence happening all around the world.

In this blog post I have a few tidbits to share with you...

Visa renewal process

Eva Stone photo, Crowds,Visa Section, Dept of Immigration and Emigration
I was pleasantly surprised on a recent visit to the Department of Immigration and Emigration ("DIE") to renew my residence visa.  In past years I've always had a sinking feeling of dread at the necessity to visit DIE. Yes, the acronym I've given the Department might have something to do with it lol

The other reasons have been mainly due to my past experiences of bureaucracy and time wasting. But, there have been some significant changes since my last visit. These include: improvements to the physical layout of the Visa Section; better staffing (e.g. an increase in the number of Assistant Controllers to check and sign off documents); optimization of processes and procedures; and the use of technology to manage applications and shorten waiting times.

In terms of processes, these are still a tad onerous but there have been small process improvements, which has optimized the application submission process, reduced processing times and reduced the amount of stress experienced by applicants.

Having said all this, I'm sure there is still a correlation between keeping the process less than efficient in order to keep people sufficiently employed and to keep certain foreign nationals away. And, it has to be noted,  DIE lacks sufficient funding for a fully computerized service. I'm not too unhappy about that as there may be more relative freedom and privacy in the lack of technology.

Helping Chinese tourists enter Sri Lanka

Recent news articles on tourist arrivals in 2014 indicate China as the fastest growing tourist market and currently the third highest source of tourists for Sri Lanka behind India and UK.
Article: Sri Lanka's tourism revenues surge
Article: Sri Lanka tourism promotional strategy leads emerging markets to change the tourism mosaic

Last week, I was on a return flight to Sri Lanka and noted that half the plane was filled with mainland Chinese tourists. There were also additional onboard flight announcements made in Mandarin to cater for them.

So, it was with bemusement, when it came time to complete our disembarkation cards for Sri Lanka that I noted most of the Chinese tourists struggled to fill out these forms. Well, clearly it was going to be a problem seeing as the forms provided to all foreigners are only in English.

I'm usually of a helpful nature, and I'll share that I know some very basic conversational mandarin, so I offered to assist some of the Chinese tourists (sat near me) my form-filling services. They were gratefully received, and what ensued was quite comical given my limited Mandarin skills, and their limited to almost negligible English skills.

Given the rapid rise in Chinese tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka and the desire for more growth, might I suggest creating a new form or amending the current form to include Mandarin to enable ease of entry to Sri Lanka for these guests to the island…

Corn -on-the-cob

Eva Stone photo, corn on the cob, Kadugannawa, view, Bible Rock
I do have a penchant for corn on the cob. Having said that, I like mine cooked "just right" - not undercooked nor overcooked. If you travel around the island you'll catch sight of a stall or two, serving corn-on-the-cob by the roadside. It's definitely a welcome sight, especially if you're looking for a healthy snack.

Usually, there is a large pot of water boiling corn over a makeshift wood fire. It's very rustic and costs little to enjoy. While you park by the roadside you can take the opportunity to take in your surroundings, stretch your legs and take a break in the journey.

The picture to the left was taken near a roadside stall at Kadugannawa.

I've stopped more than a time or two and I've often left wondering why the heck it's been boiled till the corn tastes like rubber.

It hasn't stopped me from eating them, but I always seem to walk away with the same thought in my head!

* * * * * * * *

If you haven't read these yet, but are interested in reading my "Expat in Sri Lanka blog posts"... you can click on the links below:

An expat in Sri Lanka: the Good, Bad and Ugly - Part 1 on what it's like living as an expat in SL
An expat in Sri Lanka: the Good, Bad and Ugly - Part 2 on local attitudes, dual pricing, behaviors
An expat in Sri Lanka: the Good, Bad and Ugly - Part 3 on police force, corruption and stories
An expat in Sri Lanka: the Good, Bad and Ugly - Part 4 on garbage collection, waste and recycling
An expat in Sri Lanka: the Good, Bad and Ugly - Part 5 on the case for expat fatigue
An expat in Sri Lanka: the Good, Bad and Ugly - Part 6 on miscellaneous encounters at the post office, around the neighborhood, Mt Lavinia Beach and more
An expat in Sri Lanka: the Good, Bad and Ugly - Part 7 on New Year celebrations, firecrackers and dodgy doctors
An expat in Sri Lanka - the Good, Bad and the Ugly - Part 8 on Avurudu, Sri Lanka T20 World Cup win and cooling fruits
An expat in Sri Lanka - the Good, Bad and the Ugly - Part 9 on living as an foreign expat woman in Sri Lanka


D said...

Ahhh.... corn at the Kadugannawa hill road.
Sri Lankan corn is different from the american sweet corn. Sweet corn is more tender and has a sweetness to it (hence the name). Sri Lankan corn is more chewy and can be used by itself for a meal :-)

Eva Stone said...

I hear you D! It's definitely not like sweet corn and can probably line your stomach as a main meal. It won't stop me from stopping to have one at places like Kadugannawa or other scenic spots :)

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