Bus rides in Sri Lanka

Our recent trip to Nainativu island started with a busride, as many of our days do. This bus was notable for one thing really, and it falls into a theme here in Sri Lanka ( and neighboring countries as well, I’ve heard).

Bus Drivers and Loud Music

This phenomenon is common, ubiquitous even; music blasting at full volume, with 8 inch speakers distributed throughout the bus so there’s no escape. It’s always local music, some of which I enjoy some no, just like any style of music. It’s also always too loud. You get used to it.

Another phenomenon is the beeping and honking; drivers honk when they are going pass someone, and then honk when they have successfully passed. They honk when approaching a corner, honk when they’ve cleared the corner. They honk when there’s a cow in the road, a pedestrian looking to cross, a bird flying by, a nice looking car, tree, building, or dog. They honk when they’ve had a good night’s sleep, a decent meal, an intellectually satisfying conversation.

They honk a lot. You get used to it.

The bus to Nainativu, however, was a next level kind of experience.

The bus driver blasted the music and honked for all the usual reasons, with one new wrinkle. Instead of tapping his fingers on the wheel along with the music, he honked. Monotonously, repeatedly, loudly honked along with the beat AND the melody.

Does the driver need an intervention, or a psychiatrist?

This is borderline sociopathic behaviour if you ask me. You can’t participate in music with a one note bus horn, and you can’t be so self-involved that you don’t consider the 45 people behind you in your bus and still be a sane person. You have to keep in mind as well that we were driving through a quiet, rural area with houses, paddy farms, and the occasional school.

These people are just going about their quiet, rural day when this guy comes blasting through 5 or 6 times a day ( in each direction) and honks 37 times at the left turn and 23 times at the cow that is always tied up near the road, every day, all year round.

I don’t know how they don’t put spikes in the road. I don’t understand how the conductor ( there’s always a conductor dealing with the tickets and yelling for everyone standing to move forward, move to the front) stays sane riding with this guy all day, every day and doesn’t choke him out or change careers or something. It’s a mystery.

I sat down to write about our trip to Nainativu, and this is what came out. Next post will be about the temple, I promise.



I am a world-travelling, long distance runner previously disguised as a high-voltage engineer and now masquerading as a travel blogger.

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