Colombo, Sri Lanka
I had little knowledge of Sri Lanka prior to arriving. A shame, I know — I always like to read up a little before I get somewhere, and I hadn’t really this time.
My assumptions? Okay, probably South Indian-influenced… Decades of civil war just ended maybe 5 years ago… Majority Buddhist, minority Muslim. More specifically, majority Sinhalese, minority Tamil. So, what does that spell? An India-like place with sustained war damage, and lots of monks around?
So imagine my surprise when I land in a gleaming airport, and on the one-hour ride into Colombo, passed mostly immaculate, new streets (unlike most of India, with actual sidewalks!) with smooth-moving traffic and minimal honking, with people laconically walking about not in dhotis and saris, but in Western clothing. Huh. Moral of the story? Don’t assume.