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Sri Lanka Orphanage Project

Page history last edited by Phil Pierce 7 years, 6 months ago

 

Partner institution: Plan My Gap Year- Sri Lanka

Website: http://www.planmygapyear.co.uk/srilanka

 

Contributors (2013):

Hannah Rose Harkin

Yazzmin Rio Sharpe

Lauren May McLauchlan

Emma Catherine Thompson

 

Contributors (2015):

Sophie Ames

Annabelle Collingwood

Megan Gresty

Jessica Kendall

 

Instructions:

Contributors: for details on what is required in each section, please look at the Guidance Notes

Contents: 

Placement Information

Accomodation

Transport

Social Life

Things To Do, Things Not To Do

Useful Contacts

Before You Go

Costs

Placement Information:

Program Costs:
Registration Fee: £149
Program Fee: £250
Flights: £500
Travel Insurance: £36
Visa: £25
Spends: £50 a week (+ extra for trips!)

Some of the information we received from Plan My Gap Year was not up to date.
However, they we’re visiting Sri Lanka after us, to make some changes and to ensure that the handbook was up to date.
Please read the handbook before you go!

You will arrive on the first or third Saturday in each month (dates can be negotiable if you ask Philip or Gad - we arranged to arrive on the second saturday).
When we arrived we had the Saturday and Sunday to do as we wanted; our Saturday was spent resting and acclimatising - trust us, you'll need a nap! Janaka will do his best to place groups in the same room. The evening you arrive you will have a brief talk with Janaka who will ask which project you are interested in most. We didn’t visit the project settings beforehand which we were led to believe, but there are plenty of other volunteers who will explain the projects to you so you can prepare yourself for the first day (Monday). You may hear horror stories but please don’t let this put you off as they were never as bad as people made out and you need to form your own judgement - think Tripadvisor! Janaka creates a timetable for the week which tells you where you will be going, at what times and with whom. There are no strict rules and you can swap amongst yourselves and the other volunteers so that you can go to the project you would like to go that day. We were split in to pairs so we weren't alone on the first day but after a day or two with the other volunteers you will be more at ease and won't always need a friend in your group to accompany you - you will make friends!

NOTE: You get weekends and an afternoon off to do as you please. However, if there is an excursion you would like to do or anytime you may need off then Janaka is very relaxed and all you have to do is ask!

A typical day is 8.30am- 11.30am then back to Janakas for dinner then 1.30pm- 4.30pm but this varies according to each project and what is to be done that day. 

Volunteer Projects:
- Ruhuna Orphanage (babies and toddlers)- You cannot take photos in the orphanage. You can take photos at the other projects as long as you get permission from the person in charge.
- Street Kids Community Nursery
- Andana School
- Swimming Lessons
- Sacred Heart Convent Special Needs Girls School
- Yasodora Community Centre
- Yasodora Nursery School
- Van Reeth Elderly Home
- School of Nursing
  • Ruhuna Orphanage (0-3 years): There is always help needed here however many volunteers turn up! There is a baby room (on our visit 9 babies aged 5 weeks to 8 months) which is closed off from the rest of the orphanage. You will feed, change, burp, bathe and rock to sleep these little bundles of joy! PLEASE give them plenty of attention. They are in separate cots so do not get to ‘mix’ with the other children; so do not get much interaction. I got them all out one day and lay them on the floor (on a blanket) so they could see each other.
    The orphanage is split into two sides each with a pen and some cots. One side holds 9-18month olds and the other side holds the children 18months-3years. (ALL THE CHILDREN NEED NAPPIES) They only have cloth nappies; volunteers take disposable nappies from Janakas house (2 a day). The women who work there will give you bottles and food to feed them, but please use your own initiative! Sometimes it is like a conveyer belt changing and cleaning the children.
    Take/Buy: Baby wipes, baby wash, sudocrem, rattles, lots of baby clothes; not warm clothing just vests/shorts/ tshirts small sizes 0-3months to Toddler sizes up to 2 years; the children are small for their ages.
    If you can find or buy cloth nappies in the UK- just cotton tea-towels or muslin cloths, to leave there when the volunteers do not attend and take nappies (at the weekends) then please do! They are really needed.
    Balls, building bricks and toy cars are useful but they do not get much time to play with such luxuries. 
  • Street Kids Community Project (3 - 16 years): This project is located in Galle town, you will usually take the bus there with other volunteers (16 LKR). On your way you may want to visit the supermarket or a fruit stall to buy snacks for the childen (yoghurt/milk/oranges/bananas) as they are very poor. The amount of children that attend the project will differ every day, or even hour - they can come and go as they please! However this is not encouraged as the main purpose of the centre is to intergrate street children into education by giving them a place to congregate and learn/play with peers whilst having to obey simple disciplines. This project is over overstaffed with volunteers, we'd say 3/4 people is enough. The building is very small but decorated with children's work making it inviting and friendly. The children at this project are very priviledged to have a qualified teacher to look after them (ask her about it, she's very proud!) but further stimulation is still vital; if you attend this project please make sure you plan mixed ability* activities for the children and take the necessary resources with you.
    *mixed ability because you may have a day when the age range is as wide as 3 - 16 years.

  • Sacred Heart Special Needs Girls School: This is another project located in Galle town, you can access it via bus (16 LKR - get off at Food City!) or tuk tuk (300 LKR). The special needs girls class you will be working with a located with a Catholic school, they have 1 class teacher and 1 teaching assistant for a class of appromixitly 25 girls. The first thing you will notice is the size of the classroom and amount of girls - it's very cramped! It may also appear quite chaotic when you first arrive, unfortunately there isn't much you can do about this as communication is an issue with both the teacher and the children. The girls vary from age 4 to around 15 and all have different disabilities, please remember this when planning activities, it needs to be very mixed ability! Activities ideas include: dancing, colouring, drawing, making bracelets, sports. Swimming Lessons follows on from this as it is the special needs girls you will take swimming. Although this was cancelled during our trip we heard nothing but praise for the project. It is the volunteers responsibility to get the girls to and from the local swimming pool, where they are met by yet more volunteers (this is a popular one!).
  • Yasadora Nursery School (morning): This project is located around the corner from the volunteer house, you will be able to walk there in under 5 minutes. There are 3 morning classes at Yasadora with children split into ages, there will usually be 2 volunteers in each class and you will be able to chose which class you'd like to be in. Although the class teachers are qualified some are not very confident and will allow you to take control from the moment you step through the doors - Top Tip: PLAN PLAN PLAN! Although these children are happy to spend the morning singing and dancing it would be excellent if you could plan a range of stimulating and educational acitivities for them; you can ask the nursery what resources they have but it will be best to take your own. Take some snap cards or flash cards. During the morning session children will have a 30 minute break, when they will eat a snack and play outside - you will have to watch them, they are good climbers!
    The classrooms are small and crowded but the children love you being there.
     
  • Yasadora Community Centre (afternoon): Located in the same place as the nursery school, you will be able to walk here in under 5 minutes. The Yasadora Community Centre afternoon sessions are open to all children from the neighbourhood to come and join in fun but enriching activities such as drawing, writing, dancing and sports. There is also a playing field available, use this, the children love cricket and football! Attendence for this project will vary daily and it is hard to judge how many volunteers are needed.

     
  • Van Reeth Elderly Home: The elderly home is located in Galle town centre, a short walk up the road from the Sacred Heart Special Needs School. If you catch the bus here get off at Food City and walk directly up the side street next to it, it's located on the top right hand corner. If, like us, you are not sure you are cut out for volunteering with elderly people don't worry! This project is the sweetest! You will spend most of your time in the female quarter of the home, but if you would like to visit the men then it probably wouldn't be a problem. Whilst on the project you can sit with the ladies, talk to them and massage their hands with cream - they love it! A few ladies speak very good english, whilst others are happy just to see you. There is also a dog, Rex, who will try to steal you attention. You may be able to help the woman prepare lunch for that day, or even just watch, it's fascinating. Matching games are a definite favourite so don't forget the playing cards! Top Tip: Please remember that this is a Roman Catholic Elderly Home and respect should be show to the Sister's at all times - say hello/goodbye, they'll really appreciate it!
  • There is also the opportunity to help out at the local 'Legacy' Cricket Academy, where young boys are coached cricket - they take this very seriously, so cricket/coaching experience would be very beneficial!

Remember: If you decide you do not enjoy a particular project you can always swap with other volunteers or ask Janaka to change your timetable - don't ever feel to scared to say you're not comfortable or happy with what you're doing!

Top Tip: Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country - please remember and respect this at all times.

 

 

 

Accomodation:

Your accomodation whilst volunteering in Sri Lanka is organised and provided by PMGY inclusive of the program fee price.

 

There are plenty of rooms in the volunteer house, which is attached to Janakas family home, expect to see his two youngest children running around - it's like one big, happy family! 
Prior to arriving we didn’t know if all four of us would be sharing a room or if we would be split into pairs.  There were a lot of volunteers when we stayed so it was hard for Janaka to house the group of us in one room as there weren’t enough spare beds, he was happy to relocate other volunteers who had came alone or in pairs but to save any disruption to our fellow volunteers we stayed in our given rooms as two pairs.

The room sizes vary and there are a different amount of beds in each room. We had a big room with a very large double bed, right above the dining area where the four of us chilled, aswell as having two single beds in another room that was shared with one other girl. We were happy with the situation, but if it does bother you, Janaka will do his best to fix it!

 

If you are travelling on your own you are likely to share with other volunteers - don't let this put you off! You will always be able to find time for yourself, and you will soon appreciate the company of roommates.


All rooms have western bathrooms - although ours was outside! (Don’t worry nobody could peep in!) It was quite refreshing in the mornings but we would save our night time showers for the shower in the other room so that we didn’t get eaten alive by the mozzies! Mosquito nets are provided in each room.

All the rooms are very basic, but are clean and safe. 



Food and Drink: Breakfast, lunch and tea are provided within your fee; there is always something to eat; even for fussy eaters!  

Breakfast: Toast and spreads, cereal, biscuits and fruit.
Lunch: Crackers and spreads and usually curry and rice. But you can help yourself to food in the containers for breakfast.
Dinner: Usually curry and rice but a western meal is provided 1-2 times a week.

There is a shop down the road where you can buy snacks, and a supermarket (Food City) in Galle where you can buy everything! There are also fruit stalls everywhere if you would like to buy fresh fruit - they will even let you try before you buy!

Janaka provides 15 bottles of water and one 5 litre bottle of water on your arrival and you can ask for more as you need it. You can buy bottles of water from the shop at a cheaper rate but the first lot is already there when you arrive.
Janaka has a fridge which he stocks up with bottles of Fanta, Beer, Cola and Sprite they are 500ml so bigger than a standard bottle here, he charges 100 LKR/50p (more for beer) for each one and you write your name on a sheet each time you have one - please remember to do this as it is run on honesty.

 

Remember: Your drinks are added to a 'tab' which you will pay in full at the end of your stay - try and keep track of what you have had so that it isn't a shock when you see your bill! PS: It adds up rapidly! 

 

You may also wish to eat out sometimes during your stay, this is perfectly fine! There is a whiteboard in the dining area that you can write your name on if you don't require lunch/dinner that day.


Note: You will be washing your clothes in a bucket - take travel detergent and don't expect them to be extremely clean and fresh. 

 

There are helpers that work at the house, Siri, Isaru and Douglas, their english is limited but they will help you whenever they can! However, please remember that this is their livelyhood so, if you require alot of assistance, please tip them a small amount.

Transport:

Getting to Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka is steadily becoming more of a tourist destination, with this more and more airlines are offering affordable flights from the UK. You will need to search for flights to Colombo, Sri Lanka (Bandaranaike International Airport). When first looking for your flights we suggest searching via STA Travel Company, who offer student and under 26 fares; from this you will be able to either book your flights through them or go direct to an independent airline where you may be able to take advantage of customer initiatives such as further discounts and sales - like we did, hurray! We flew with Qatar Airways and purchased our tickets as part of a 3 day sale in November - they cost £487 each (inc. taxes and luggage) and this was the cheapest we'd seen them anywhere. A lot of flights to Sri Lanka include connecting flights, be wary of this when booking your flights as many have VERY long waiting times at the connecting airports (we're talking 16+ hours in Bahrain Airport) and you should always be able to find a more convenient flight, for example we had very short stops in Doha, Qatar - this airport is surprisingly good, with plenty to eat and lots of duty free shops. Direct flights are also available, primarily from London Heathrow via Sri Lankan Airlines. 

 

Our flights with Qatar Airways went very smoothly; you will be welcomed onboard warmly and provided with a travel pillow and blanket (plus eye mask, ear plugs and toothbrush if you have an overnight flight!) and don't worry about being hungry/thirsty, there is always something being offered! 3 out of 4 of our flights included very good inflight entertainment with personal screens with brand new films, tv shows and music available. 

 

Top Tip: Book your flights early to get the best price!

 

Airlines currently flying from the UK to Sri Lanka include: Sri Lankan Airlines, Emirates, Jet Airways and Qatar Airways.

 

Our Flight Details: 

Airline: Qatar Airways (www.qatarairways.com)

Price: £487 pp (inc. taxes, luggage (and food!))

Luggage Allowance: 1 x 23kg hold, 1 x 7kg cabin

Outgoing: Manchester > Doha, Qatar (8 hours) - 1 hour 20 min wait - Doha > Colombo, Sri Lanka (4 hours)

Incoming: Colombo > Doha (5 hours) - 3 hour 20 min wait - Doha > Manchester (8 hours)


 

Getting Around Sri Lanka: Your transfer from the airport on your arrival is arranged by Plan My Gap Year; you will be picked up by a driver and taken to the volunteer house; please be aware that your driver may not speak very good English but they will try their hardest to answer your questions (and are likely to offer you water - say yes!) The drive from the airport (Bandaranaike International) to the volunteer house will take around 3 hours - if you can stay awake you will see some stunning views along the way!

 

To get to the projects you can take a tuk-tuk which is a little three wheeled 'buggy'; these only (legally) carry three people - we weren't aware of this before we went and it was pretty annoying having to stay in pairs and pay for 2. However, when you start visiting the projects there will be more volunteers so you can arrange groups of 3 to split the cost equally.

 

Typical tuk-tuk fares:

Orphange - 300 LKR/£1.50 (return)

Painting Project: - 250 LKR/£1.25

Street Kids/Elderly Home/Special Needs - 300 LKR/£1.50

Unawatuna Beach - 350 LKR/£1.70

Jungle Beach - 400 LKR/£2.00

Galle Town - 300 LKR/£1.50

 

Siri, who works at the house, owes his own tuk tuk - please use him whenever possible as he is very poor and will appreciate it greatly.

 

Remember: Although tuk tuk fares look cheap to begin with, they soon add up!


 

Buses in Sri Lanka are a very different experience to the UK; at prime time you will have to stand for the entire journey in VERY cramped conditions - hold on tight, it's a bumpy ride! It is possible to get buses to most locations and projects but it can be tricky to navigate as you will usually need to get more than one bus - ask other volunteers if they will take you and show you the ropes, you'll get the hang of it in no time and once you do you'll start enjoying how cheap it is!

 

Typical local bus fares:

Galle town - 16 LKR/8p 10 minutes

Galle > Unawatuna beach - 20 LKR/10p 10/15 minutes

Galle > Hikkaduwa beach -  25 LKR/12p 40 minutes

 

It is also easily possible to get buses and trains further afield if you wish to visit different areas of Sri Lanka; the railway station is located adjacent to Galle Bus Station and signs showing train times and fare are clearly written in English - but if you do need help, don't be afraid to ask! Trains are divided into class systems and, although we didn't travel buy train, we would recommend you buy the best ticket you can afford and be prepared for overcrowding.

 

Top Tip: The train from Ella > Nuwara Eliya is known as the most scenic route in Sri Lanka!

 

If crowded buses and trains are not you thing but you still want to visit more of Sri Lanka you might consider hiring a driver; Janaka can organise this for you whenever you need it and will arrange the best price possible. Remember: you will hire a driver priced on the vehicle so the more people that travel, the less the cost per person! For us, a week of travelling cost us around 14,000 LKR/£75 each (4 of us). This may seem pricey but we travelled everyday and Douglas will take you wherever and whenever you want to go and, on the plus side, we always knew us and our luggage were safe!

Social Life:

During your time at the volunteer house you will have (at least) one afternoon off during the week, this is usually a Friday; you are able to do whatever you want during this time. A lot of our time was spent at the local beach (Unawatuna) which is a ten minute tuk-tuk drive away. You also get Saturday and Sunday off to do whatever you like. You can leave the volunteer house for the night and stay in the neighbouring towns, such as Unawatuna (the local beach-google it, it's amazing!) Mirissa or Hikkaduwa. Or you can visit the main town of Galle where there are shops and the Cricket ground- where you can watch matches for free as long as you enter through the bottom of the building; it is a lot of fun and we even got to talk to the broadcaster who was fimling the matches.

On a Friday night at Unawatuna beach there is a beach party which is brilliant, there are plenty of young people around who make you feel very welcome and we made lots of new friends!



There are plenty of beautiful beaches that are only a tuk-tuk or bus ride away; Wijaya (pictured below with rope swing), Jungle beach and Una!

You don't have to eat at Janakas house, there are plenty of nice places to eat out at. The beach bars serve food all day and night; so you can stay at the beach all day and eat late then make your way back to the house. 
Galle Fort is a historical Dutch walled town in the city centre; it has lots of shops and nice restaurants, plus wonderful views of the sunset!



We decided to have a travel/holiday week after the two weeks volunteering and we made our way with the driver to all different amazing places. We stayed for 2 nights at Unawatuna beach and watched the sunset and the sunrise!
Next we stayed the night in Mirrisa, here we got up early and went dolphin and whale watching, this cost us 4,000LKR/£20 each. Please be careful with some companies as there are some illegal ones. DO NOT pay any money upfront!
We then made our way to Tissa, here we stayed the night and got up early to go on Safari to Yala National Park where we saw elephants, monkeys and all sorts of wild animals. This cost us around 5,000LKR/£30 each including the hire of the jeep.

We travelled through Ella and Nuwara Eliya, where theere are some stunning views and beautiful water falls (surrounded by lots of little monkeys) and stopped off at the Mackwoods tea plantation to see the process and drink some tasty tea! - This was free! Next we travelled to Kandy - a main city full of shops and culture, where we stayed for two nights. We visited the Millennium Elephant Foundation, where we washed and rode an elephant, this cost us 2,500LKR/£15. We watched traditional Kandian dancing and visited a temple as it was Full Moon (a big public holiday). In Kandy we also visited The Temple of The Tooth Relic - this is the most sacred temple in Sri Lanka as it holds Buddhas tooth; if you visit here please make sure you were loose, modest clothing.



Our last stop was Negombo, a coastal town around 15minutes drive to the airport. We spent the night here relaxing, enjoying the beach and the shops before heading to the airport to come home! :( 

Things To Do, Things Not To Do:

DO's:
There are many things we wish we had known before our trip so that we could plan for each occasion. We were told by PMGY not to take anything with us to donate as we could buy everything out there which would also help locals, however we did not find this the case and wished we'd taken more with us.

  • Please take lots of hand sanitiser and latex gloves - you will not find these out there! This is mostly for your time in the orphange; it is very hot and some children are very ill and have contagious skin conditions - we were all fine but it only takes a small cut or graze for the germs to spread and taking such items will hopefully pretect both yourself and the children.
  • Nappies are provided by Janaka with the money he raises for the orphanage but if you can squeeze a pack of nappies, baby wipes or baby wash in your case please take them; the babies only get two disposible nappies each a day and as you can imagine with the germs flying around, they go through these VERY quickly! It is not often that the babies are bathed so when you get chance to wash them, give them plenty of eye contact and let them splash (THEY ADORE IT!) and make sure you have some baby wash and talcum powder to make them smell nice!
  • Take LOTS OF OLD CLOTHES! Even (especially!) clothes you would never wear here or clothes you may be throwing away, they are so easily dirtied and quite frankly after the orphanage you will want to burn your clothes after being sicked on, pooed on, snotted on, EVERYTHING! (Dont let this put you off- it is a wonderful experince and the babies are adorable). We ran out very quickly and wish we had bought our rags with us to leave in Sri Lanka.
  • Although the volunteer house has a stocked Resource Room you might want to take extra, such as: pencils, chalk, paint, exercise books, colouring books, educational games, toys, footballs, clothing (mostly babies).
  • PLEASE use your spare time to it's maxium potential! Sri Lanka has so much to offer it's a struggle to fit it all in, but try try try! You may have long hectic days of travelling on crowded buses and trains to see some tourist attractions but trust us when we say you won't regret it. Even evenings in at the house with other volunteers are enjoyable - learn some card games!
  • TAKE A CAMERA! Although it is advised by PMGY not to take valuables we highly recommend taking a camera device with you - you will make so many memories you won't want to forget! 
  • HAGGLE! For things such as tuk tuk fares and street shops, you will be able to haggle a better price - remember, they will often double the price because you are Western! But please also remember you may end up haggling over pennies but to them is a days food!
  • You will notice as soon as you arrive that Sri Lankans are very curious as to where you're from, what is your name, etc. This can be daunting at first but relax and smile! Be polite and friendly, they will mean you no harm. Infact, embrace it - school children will shout and wave at you like you're a celebrity! 
  • Please remember to be respectful whilst out and about (buses!) and at projects (orphange, schools and elderly home!); knees and shoulders should be covered. We tended to wear basics, eg: leggings/linen trousers/thin joggers and loose t-shirts. Vests are often okay, but try to avoid thin straps. Please remember to wear loose fitting clothing that covers shoulders, chest, knees (sometimes full leg) when visiting temples. But don't worry, you can still take normal holiday clothes for the beach and night times! 
  • Take plenty of suncream, aftersun and insect repellent (50% DEET!) - you will need it!
  • Take an umbrella.  For the sun and occasional rain. and a rain mac just incase! 
  • Take a Rucksack or a bag that will not hurt you when you carry it for long periods of time!
  • WATER is available in bottles everywhere- they can be quite hefty- maybe take a water bottle with you that you are comforable holding and use the botled water to fill it up. (Just ensure to wash it with bottled or boiled water!)
  • DO remember to inform other volunteers and Janaka himself if you are planning on being out later than curfew - this will be fine, but he will worry if nobody knows where you are! 

 

DONT's:

  • Do not go anywhere alone - the locals are very friendly but may try and pester you a lot; as long as you are consistant and say no, they will leave you be. This applies to beggars or people who try to sell things to you. If you have no intention of buying anything from them PLEASE SAY NO. (Polite but stern!)
  • DON'T DRINK TAP WATER - YOU WILL GET ILL! This includes brushing your teeth. 
  • Don't assume you are allowed to take pictures in settings - always ask permission
  • You will see a number of different animals in Sri Lanka, some are very cute but some...not so much. There is no need to panic! The creepy crawleys are unlikely be harmful, and will usually avoid you if you avoid them. Whilst at Janaka's house, however, you will be able ask Isaru or Douglas to get rid of any beasties - we did! Huntsman spider, anyway?   

Useful Contacts:

Plan My Gap Year:  www.planmygapyear.co.uk

Philip Russell and Gad Mimran

Down Farm Barn, Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3 8HF 

UK Phone Number: 01273 782005

e-mail: info@planmygapyear.co.uk

 

Volunteer Sri Lanka: www.volunteersrilanka.net

Janaka De Silva

36/14, Yasodarawatta, Hirimbura Cross Road, Galle, Sri Lanka.

Phone: +94 777910747

e-mail: srilanka@planmygapyear.co.uk or janakadesilva1@hotmail.com

 

Flights:

www.qatarairways.com

www.statravel.co.uk

Other:
Travel Books such as The Lonely Planet and The Rough Guide provide excellent tourist information on Sri Lanka.

Before You Go:

Vaccinations - Get advise from your doctor!
However this is what we did:
We had TYPHOID, HEP A AND HEP B
We did not waste our money on MALARIA tablets as we did not plan to travel up to the very North of Sri Lanka, where malaria is present.
We did not have a RABIES jab as they are very expensive and our doctors were not too concerned. But be warned: there a LOTS of stray dogs around; they are harmless and do not approach you.Keep on guard when they are near and you will be fine! In the very rare event that you do get bitten follow the standard procedure - wash the cut with bottled water and soap and seek medical attention as soon as possible! Note: If you intend on trekking during your time in Sri Lanka it may be advised that you do get the rabies vaccination - don't ignore this advice!

Make sure you plan a route back to the airport- there may be other volunteers leaving on the same day so just ask. The cost back to the airport is around 10,000 LKR/£50. We had a week travelling and made our way back to the airport over the days. (see social life)

Visa - you WILL need a visa to visit Sri Lanka!
It is very simple to obtain a visa for Sri Lanka as you will be direct by PMGY to do so. The type of visa you need will depend on the length of your trip but for our 3 week visit we got the ETA Sri Lanka Short Travel Visa - this is valid for 30 days and cost us around £25 each on a group application. 
Top Tip: You will need to go through Immigration Services once you arrive in Colombo to get your offical visa and your passport stamped 

Travel Insurance: - get it!
Travel insurance is boring; you may not think you need travel insurance, and luckily we didn't, but get it anyway! You will be offered travel insurance from PMGY and we recommend that you take this; it is afforable, covers everything you need and is stressless, perfect! We paid £36 for 3 weeks travel insurance. 

Travel Money:
The official currency used in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR); this is produced in denominations of notes such as 10/20/50/200/500/1000/2000 and smaller value coins - you will very rarely use coins! You will need to buy your Rupees once you arrive; this can be done by exchanging GBP £ in the airport, in  official Money Changers in Galle and through Janaka - the exchange rate is regulated nationwide so should be the  same where you go (it would be wise to check the rate for yourself, however, to make sure you know the value of your Sterling). The exchange rate in March 2013 was 186 LKR to £1.

Top Tip: We would recommend loading money onto a travel cashcard; these will allow you to withdrawn money from Visa/Mastercard ATMs nationwide at a minimal fee - it is much cheap than using your normal debit card.

Make sure you research what you would like to do in your spare time and where you want to go so that you can prepare vaccination wise and clothes wise as inland it can get cold.

 

Please read the handbook from Plan My Gap Year and ask as many questions as you can. 


Please feel free to message any of us or to add us on facebook; to take a look at our pictures and to ask us any questions you may want answering!

Costs

 

 

 

 

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