Yesterday James and I talked about what we would bring to Sri Lanka if we had a chance to do it all again. The information I received before coming over was to pack anything and everything that you could not do without. So… we packed toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, soap, razors, etc. That was completely unnecessary. You can buy almost anything (except certain feminine products – bring those) at the grocery stores here. That being said, we are thankful that we brought over-the-counter medications that we might need during the next few months.
Recently I’ve embarked on a little project to create a video montage of tips for people (Fulbright grantees or others) who may be coming over from Western countries that are not sure what to expect. Video topics so far include: how to operate without a clothes dryer, how to use a rice cooker, how to hail a tuk tuk, what to expect at the grocery store, how to use the key pad locks for the apartment doors, and a peek into what traffic is like.
As far as what we’d bring with us if we had to do it all again – James said he would bring more quality sunscreen (the sun is SO HOT here and if outdoors at all you need to reapply every 1.5 hours at least). On our first weekend out of Colombo he got a bad sunburn on his hands when we were out on the water whale watching.
I would bring more warm weather clothing to wear while hanging out at the apartment. Being so worried about offending others and not seeming modest enough, I only brought shirts that are elbow length or longer plus pants, long skirts, and capris. Stupid. I need tank tops and shorts! Those are not readily available here. Also outside of the city, in the more tourist-driven areas Westerners are every where and my attire compared to other is quite modest. I’d rather be modest than be stared at but warm-weather clothes would be a bonus.