Subways, Taxis or Buses

What is the best way of getting around a city?

I have used all three, as well as walking!

Here are some thoughts?

Subways (Underground Railways)

Normally fast, and inexpensive.

A couple of downsides.

  • You can’t see anything in a tunnel.
  • Those subway maps are easy to read but don’t give you much idea about the relative positions of places you want to visit. (I have travelled on two different subway lines to actually get between things that are only a short distance apart)

Taxis (or Ubers)

Direct from where you are to your destination.

You do get to see some of the sites as you travel.

Slower than the subway, and the most expensive way of city travelling.


Generally the slowest transport, but inexpensive!

As you are higher up you do see more as you travel.


I tend to only use Taxis to travel between Hotel and airport, or train station.

This makes things fairly simple when carrying luggage and when you might be tired.

For the first few days I like to use the Buses as they help me get a a better idea of the city layout.

The higher view also means you see more.

Once I have got a better idea of the city I am more likely to use the Subway.

Avoiding Overweight Luggage

Making sure your luggage is the correct weight is important.

  • I don’t want them to take my carry on bag off me;
  • Its annoying to pay extra for a checked in bag that exceeds the weight limit.

So what are the options?

Bathroom Scales

This is my standby, but there are a few things to think about:

  • Make sure no part of the luggage touches the ground otherwise they will read low.
  • The scales are meant for weighing people in the 50kg – 150kg range and won’t be as accurate when weighing a few kg.
  • Your home bathroom scales won’t be regularly calibrated

Travel scales

You can buy a travel scale like this for around $10.

  • These are likely to be more accurate in the 5kg – 50kg range than the bathroom scales.
  • Holding a 23kg case up with that handle isn’t going to be easy.

I’m not a big fan though as it can be just one more thing to have to take, and as its rarely used you normally find the batteries are flat when you need it.

Weighing at the Airport

Many airports do provide check scales before the check in, where you can weigh your bags and then swap contents between checked bags and your carry on.

Alternatively, there is often a vacant check in desk where you can sneak over and use the scales there. ( I see people do this often and I have never seen anyone stop them)

An advantage of using airport scales is these scales are normally regularly checked by a government body.

My Additional Travel Hacks

  • Don’t worry about a few extra grams. . . . In the past I have been waved through with a bags close to 1kg over.
  • Don’t forget to be wearing a jacket and being able to fill the pockets. (Often the contents of my jacket pockets can weigh 3+kg)
  • Remember the weight when you travel out as it will give you a good idea how much extra you can bring back.

Luggage Covers – What Is The Point?

As I was standing at the carousel I saw a case come past with this zipped nylon cover.

I had never really noticed these before so I was intrigued and did a bit of research.

Typically they cost between $25 and $35.

The retailers say ‘They provide your luggage with the ultimate level of protection and being water resistant you don’t have to worry about an unexpectedly rainy day ruining your belongings.

Five reasons why I won’t be buying one

  1. I buy waterproof luggage, without zips so water isn’t a problem.
  2. I never have anything in my checked luggage I’m not prepared to lose.
  3. The cover material doesn’t look as resistant to damage as my luggage so everything is going to look scruffy quickly . . . . unless I keep spending more money on more covers.
  4. Although it may stop scratches its unlikely to be strong enough to protect the luggage from drops and hitting hard edges.
  5. I actually think a few marks on your suitcase are expected if you are a regular traveller.

Sri Lanka

This year I travelled to Sri Lanka for the first time with my wife.

We went on a tour package which took us round the southern two thirds of the island country in high class hotels.

Its been a great experience and I would recommend it as a country well worth visiting.

I had heard about the beauty and the friendly people but war really impressed by the history of the places we visited.

Here are some thoughts about visiting;

Historic Sights

Although we visited many historic sights the one I enjoyed most was Sigiriya, the Lion Rock fortress.

Here is a photo early in the morning, which is the best and coolest time to climb.

Before I went I thought the main attraction was the view from the top.

In reality I was much more interested in the ruins of the fortress city that surrounds the rock.


There is no shortage of attractive scenery especially in the high country tea growing areas around Nuwara Eliya.

This is a view from the train doorway on the railway heading east from Nuwara Eliva


We had a couple of Jeep Safaris during our time.

Minneriya National Park where we saw many groups of wild elephants.

Yala National Park to see buffalo, boars, crocodiles, elephants and lots of native birds but not the elusive leopard.

Buffalo Calf with Mother


Although spicy a Sri Lankan curry isn’t usually as hot as an Indian curry.

With the whole country being a relatively small island fresh sea food is common at every restaurant.

Vegetarian and vegan options also seem to be readily available.

One local delicacy that is well worth a try are Hoppers.

These are made from a rice flour and coconut milk batter which is cooked in a special pan to form a bowl, especially good with an egg cooked in the bottom.


Average daily wage is in the range 1,200-1,400 (around $10 Australian or 6 Euro which means outside the international hotels prices are very reasonable.

Sri Lanka however does have a tipping culture so it’s worth doing a bit of research on what is appropriate.


Don’t expect to get anywhere fast.

Road. There are a couple of fast tollways for road travel but for general driving it seems an average speed in the county areas would be around 40-50km/hour, while in towns it will be less than 20km hour.

Rail There is quite an extensive rail network but again the speeds are around 40km on the flat but less than 20km on the railways in the mountains. Fares are really inexpensive. If travelling a long way its probably best to go for 1st class when available.

Poya Day

It worth finding out if there is a Poya (Full moon day) while you are there and plan accordingly;

On the Poya Day which is a public holiday:

  • A lot of the shops and museums will be closed.
  • No alcohol can be sold.
  • Lots of people visit their relatives (we had a 40 km rail journey in 2nd class and had to stand all the way in a packed train)


In addition to the typical International beers and spirits you can let the following local products:

  • Lion Beers. A good quality lager and a great stout. Normally comes in 600ml bottles.
  • Arrack Distilled from coconut flower sap, and aged in oak casks. Generally about half the cost of international spirits and a quite smooth drink.

Final Travel Hack

If you have a few days in Colombo and have any interest in planes the Sri Lankan Air Force Museum is well worth a look.

There are lots of things so see and you can get up close to most of the planes.

Here I am next to one of the MIG fighters.

Basin Plug

One thing that is always in my toilet bag is this rubber multi size basin plug.

After many years of travels its now comes as no surprise to me to either find the basin , or bath plug, is missing.

That makes it a problem to shave, wash your face, or launder your clothes ,unless you have got your own plug handy.

Use With Integrated Mixer and Basin Outlet

I have even found it useful when I have been faced with an integrated mixer and basin outlet with a leaking seal.

As you will see from the photograph below many of those fancy chrome units just lift out so you can use the rubber plug.

Additional Travel Hack

If you can’t lift out the basin outlet duct tape will provide a waterproof seal.

Drinking Water Safety

Ever wondered how safe the water is in you hotel in developing countries?

Well most big hotels do have some sort of water filters so the water does normally look clean.


Two problems are

  • Does the water filtration system remove all bacteria?
  • Are the pipes and tanks between the filtration and your tap clean?

Some hotels have Ultrafiltration or Reverse Osmosis (RO) filters which should remove bacteria, as long as they are maintained and not by-passed.

Risk Free Approach

Avoid, Ice, mixed cordials and and washed salad

Drink bottled water, and check the suppliers seal on the bottle before you use it.

Use bottled water for brushing your teeth, and making ice in your mini bar fridge.

Additional Travel Hack

When cleaning your teeth don’t put the bottle down while you are brushing!

It’s easy to put the bottle down then habit takes over and you use the tap to rinse!