How different types of transport can influence the tunes you listen to…

Despite Sri Lanka being a pretty small country, getting around is guaranteed to take longer than you think. The island’s narrow roads are chock-full of pedestrians, cyclists, trucks and tuk-tuks – not to mention the huge amount of colourful buses which at times resemble skips-on-wheels. Getting from Colombo to Kandy (only about 100km), takes around three hours by train – while the bus trip across the island to the east coast (320km) will take you over ten hours.

I always listen to music when I’m on public transport, and I really believe that the mode I pick influences the tunes I put on my headphones. This is something I touched on last year when I had German techno producer Maxim Wolzyn guest on IKIMASHO! I asked him – along with a bunch my music-minded mates – to pick some tunes they associate with train travel. (You can read that post here.) For me, Sri Lanka was no different, and I soon started to associate certain modes of transport with certain styles of music.



Buses are the hardcore punk transport of Sri Lanka: fast, DIY & with equipment that is more-often-then-not falling to bits. The photo of the red bus above pretty much sums it up – Sri Lankan bus drivers believing that braking while going round a corner is a waste of valuable time. Local buses within the cities are so cheap it’s almost free (£0.10/$0.15) and distances of about three hours will still only set you back about £1/$1.50. There are yellow markings on the road that indicate a bus stop. If you want to get on, just wait there and stick out your hand. The bus will slow down allowing you to jump on the back, then speed off the second you’ve set foot on board. I myself almost exclusively listened to punk rock when I was travelling on Sri Lankan buses. It just seemed like the obvious choice. (Music in video: The Huntingtons)



Trains on the other hand roll on and on, giving you time to stare out the window at the immense landscapes unfolding before you. They are more comfortable than buses, but generally slower. I took two long train journeys, with my trip from Kandy to Mirissa via Colombo taking about seven hours (About £2 I think). On some trains you have the option of first-class which is what most western tourists take. My tip is to avoid these carriages and take second-class. You still have a level of comfort above third-class, but it also means you have an open window to hang out of and take pictures. You meet more local people this way. With miles and miles of lush green tropical landscape to enjoy, it had to be liquid drum and bass for these trips. No question! (Music in video: Seba)


As I type this from Bali in Indonesia I’m reminded by just how cheap, plentiful and convenient public transport in Sri Lanka was. Balinese public transport sucks – local buses are virtually non-existent making it a real pain to get anywhere without your own car or scooter. I’ll say it time and time again, Sri Lanka is awesome – make sure you go sometime!


  1. Hey Justin,
    Just stumbled upon your blog and I love it! Going to SL in a month from now, and I am trying to find out about the local punk scene [if there is one]… The metal scene seems to be quite established, but I can’t find anything (!) punk related..? Do you by any chance know of any Sri Lankan bands/venues/punks?


  2. Ahhh dude I know what you mean. Yes, lots of shit metal and metalcore but not too much punk. I didn’t really see some myself but I’m sure it exists – especially in Colombo! Please let me know if you have any luck and thanks so much for checking out the blog 🙂


  4. lasvegashardcore

    Las Vegas punk rock band the Mapes has a half Sri Lankan guitar player! That guitar player is my little brother, I always wondered about a Sri Lankan punk rock scene, do you have any links for bands or anything else? Thanks for the post!

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