We hired a tuk tuk driver to take us to the bus station. There must be more tuk tuks here than cars or motorcycles, they are everywhere zipping in and out of traffic!
Tuk tuks everywhere
At the bus station, we purchased tickets for Colombo. But we did not know that we should have purchased tickets for the Express bus that took the fast toll road. So the trip took us about 3 to 4 hours to go the short distance as the bus travelled through all the little towns and villages, making numerous stops.
Once in Colombo, we were told that all India Visa centers were closed as it was a holiday in India!
Stopping for a cold juice before the return trip to Galle, we noticed how complicated the written language here is. It's a good thing that most folks here speak English.
Can you read it?
We thought it would be quicker to take the train back to Galle. But once again, we were on the slow train, not the Express train. Crowded and having to stand made the 2-hour ride seem like 4. Live and learn!
The next day, January 27th, we gave the Colombo trip another shot but this time we caught the Express bus. It was so much more direct and quicker without any stops.
At the Visa center, we were told that it would take 6 to 8 days to process a Visa which was much longer than we wished to wait. He then suggested an eTV - an electronic Tourist Visa - which for a $300 fee, he could have it done and sent to us the next day by email. Much better.
With payment made, we went for lunch and Googled electronic Visas. Unfortunately, we discovered that they are only for travellers who fly into India and cannot be used by cruisers or land travellers. And we had told them at the Visa center that we would be cruising on our sailboat to India.
Back to the Visa center. We told them what we had found out on the Internet and they agreed to cancel the Visa and refunded our money. So for the second time, we went home defeated.
With everything against us, we have decided to forget about India and we will sail to the Maldives instead. No advance Visa is required and we can possibly get fuel there with a little difficulty.
Final answer: India no. Maldives yes.