Thursday, August 13, 2009

Welcome to the land of Tea, Rubber & Coconut

Everybody you come across in Sri Lanka will tell you of their three main products the moment they know you're a visitor - got it from two cab drivers, a concierge who was making small talk while we waited for paperwork to complete, and some clerk at the airport. I didn't have the heart to tell them that I had already read all about it in my Lonely Planet.

Considering I got these repeated introductions within my first 24 hours in Sri Lanka, I didn't feel it was appropriate to question what I saw as I first entered the airport's duty free. Not unlike many airports, you come across the duty free just as you're leaving with your luggage, and after a rather copious display of beer and alcohol, your eyes automatically wander to the electronics stores. Yes, that was plural, and I don't just mean cameras, phones, hairdryers and such. I am referring to the electronic keyboards, television sets, and - wait for it - fridges, ovens and washing machines! There were so many of these stores lining the hall as we exited that I could only assume this was a lucrative business, or that all of these store owners were equally misguided. I mean, how exactly would one have the foresight to land from a flight, and walk out to buy an oven from the airport?? But just as I was about to convince myself that this was all a stroke of bad planning that would soon be rectified when these stores go out of business, I saw a fellow traveler walking out to his ride with his suitcase... and a brand new television!

I suppose the three main national products would not be heavily taxed to warrant this type of duty free sales inventiveness...

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