The Bandaranaike International Airport reminded me of the larger airports in the Philippines. At least that was my first impression of this main gateway for Sri Lanka upon our arrival. Here are photos I took upon our arrival at Colombo last September.
We deplaned away from the international terminal where a bus was waiting for us.
Other passengers deplaned from the rear door and another bus was waiting for them.
The bus was not airconditioned so we had our first taste of the Sri Lankan climate. Coming from a tropical country though, it was okay for us.
Passengers deplaning had to stop on the stairs as our bus was full and they had to wait for the next one.
Other aircraft on the tarmac of the airport
The air traffic control tower as seen from a distance
Upon disembarking from our buses, passengers ascend towards the immigration section
It took us a while to clear immigration as there were few officers assigned to foreigners that time. Upon clearing immigration, we walked towards the baggage reclaim area only to be greeted by this sight.
On one side were shops selling mostly liquor and cigarettes and on the other were shops selling appliances and other electronics. I didn’t expect to see so many selling items like TVs, refrigerators and washing machines. And then we thought these were quite similar to the set-up of duty free shops in Manila during the 1970s to the 1990s when many if not most arrivals were either balikbayan (vacationing from the US, Canada or Europe) or Overseas Foreign Workers who were on a break or between contracts. We observed similar situations at Bandaranaike as many Sri Lankans arriving appeared to be OFWs.
We descended towards the baggage reclaim area, which turned out to be an expansive area.
There were few passengers so that added to the feeling of space.
The airport had many conveyor belts
It took us a while to get to our conveyor belt. Along the way, I took this photo of the customs channels. The green was for travellers with nothing to declare. The red was for those with taxable items.
Passengers positioned themselves around the conveyor belt
Passengers waiting for their luggage
Upon getting our luggage, we proceeded towards the terminal exit. The way was lined with currency exchange stalls, hotels booths and tourist travel booths.
Currency exchange and tourist services
The path towards the terminal exit is lined with tourist agencies offering various services and packages.
Passengers are greeted by those picking them up (including hotel transportation) and those offering transport services to various destinations.
There were many empty stalls intended for duty free shops at the terminal. Perhaps these will be occupied once the airport complex is completed and there is an increase in flights at Bandaranaike.
Passengers waiting for their rides upon exiting the terminal
One of the driveways at the arrivals area. This was for private vehicles picking up arriving passengers. We crossed this to get to the driveway where our Uber car was waiting for us.
A friend engaging our Uber driver – it wasn’t difficult to make conversation as most Sri Lankans could speak English; one of the legacies of being under British rule for a long time.
View of the airport driveway
Familiar scene of a buddhist image – we thought this was similar to scenes in Thailand
More photos from our trip to Sri Lanka soon!