Finally back in Brunei after 3 eventful days in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Not only have I seen a bigger picture of the business world out there and got the chance to meet and talk to some of the remarkable entrepreneurs of international brands in the world, I have also realized and learn to appreciate the value of life more. As there are so much to share on the experiences encountered throughout the whole trip, I am going to break it down into 3 parts i.e. Part I, Part II and Part III. I truly enjoyed the entire trip and the fantastic camaraderie with all the other 6 Brunei delegates namely Fatin, Hiro, Nani, Khairi, Ryan and ofcourse my wife Yii Ven.
First and foremost, I would like to express my gratitude to the Young Entrepreneurs Association Brunei (Fatin Arifin in particular) for the invitation, The Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sports for the support and the High Commission of Brunei in New Delhi for arranging the accommodation and logistics without whom our stays in Colombo would not be as smooth.
We arrived at Colombo International Airport at around 1AM (Sri Lanka time) and by the time we reached the hotel and checked in to our room, it was almost 3AM. The wake up call buzzed at 6AM sharp and by 7:30AM, the chauffeur came and picked us up and off we go to an assembly point about 10 minutes drive from the hotel. The itinerary for the first day was field visits to various industries (Tea, Ceramics, ICT and Service) where I chose to visit a tea factory located at southern part of Sri Lanka. We took approximately 3 hours bus ride to reach the factory and spent 1.5 hours there to witness the entire process of how tea is processed – plucking, withering, rolling, oxidation and drying. After the tea factory, we were then brought to a small wood crafting factory after we had our lunch at Kurunduwatta Holiday Resort. Most of the crafting works are handmade which are labour intensive. I was told the finished products will then be sold to towns and other urban areas.
I find the people living in rural areas very friendly and are able to communicate in English well. The common mode of transport is tuk-tuk (see image below) and fresh bananas seem to be popular here.
Arrival hall of Colombo International Airport
Our friendly and extremely helpful chauffeur, Mr. Naleen.
They called this Tuk-Tuk in Bangkok too. The fare is negotiable but I’d advise you to take one with meter reading.
Assembly point where we were divided into groups based on the type of industry we chose to visit.
The 3 hours ride begins. You need to be a skillful driver to drive around Colombo. You gotta make sure the brake and horn are working too.
This is the tea factory we visited. Took us 3 hours bus ride from hotel to reach here.
Plucking of tea leaves before sending to factory for withering. This is a small tea plantation next to the factory.
Yii Ven and Nani sharing some moments together while walking under the hot sun.
Withering of leaves.
Group photo of delegates from Brunei, Malaysia, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka etc who visited the tea factory.
Had a quick lunch before riding another 1.5hours bus ride to the wood crafting factory. I find people here have strong taste bud and they like their tea with sugar.
Nice neighbourhood where everyone seems to know each other.
Day 1 ended with a dinner by the beach just behind Berjaya Hotel. Stay tuned for Part II where I visited some of the city area attractions, monument of the first Prime Minister of Ceylon and inaugural night of CAAYE Summit 2013.