Why We Choose to Travel despite the Chaos

It’s 4.00pm. We are in Clock Inn Colombo. Gobbling up two packets of instant noodles brought here by Nathan’s cousins all the way from Canada. They thought Sri Lanka wouldn’t have a packet of instant noodles. Or peanut butter. While we sip a cuppa, two wannabe indians laugh at a next level hilarious South Indian movie. An English, in his sixties, look at them with amaze. Despite being an old fella in Colombo’s fast-growing backpacking culture, Clock Inn Colombo still has life in it. Fifteen minutes ago, Zin sat in the cornerst table. Quiet. The table where she once sat and glorified Younis Khan. The table where Z first saw Nathan and Nathan, Z. The hostel where they met, kissed and fell in love. (Also read: One year and a little more.) While Z tries to memorize the old colour palette the hostel had, Nathan brings her a hot cup of noodles, instant but with soup. Two years ago, in the same table, he stole Z’s cup of ceylon tea. We all now think that was how Nathan planned to stole her heart. Or was it?

Sivan Kovil Colombo NatnZin
A morning at Sivan Kovil, Colombo

Our whole life, together, paints a picture in front of our eyes. One that fades away in two minutes and ten seconds. We sit quiet, trying to realise why we travel despite the chaos.

What you see on our Instagram is a picture of one beautiful morning in the hills where pink bougainvillea smile in full bloom and old colonial railways are in their late glory. What you don’t see is that we had the most tedious journey behind it.

Railway Museum Kadugannawa
Peek-a-boo at Kadugannawa

We love instagram for giving a platform to share a tiny part of life. And for Nathan, it motivates him to take better photos. And experiment with his gear. But hey, it’s not all fun and glory always. What we see on Instagram are, people, in flowy maxis, sipping a king coconut in an isolated beach while the tiny caption says: life in paradise. Or a tropical fruit basket overlooking an infinity pool where it says: how breakfast in an island looks like.

Tuk Tuk Sri Lanka NatnZin
Tuktuking in Ulapane and beyond!

The same morning, we had a heavy breakfast and bade farewell to The Weir House. One place that stole our heart when we traveled. We boarded the train to kandy. One that stops in every tiny station and railway halt. Nathan sat beside Zin and talked about how much he loved quiet train journeys. Very much like this. A few people. Many stops. An Isso vadai uncle per compartment and central highlands in lush green. He wanted the next train to Colombo to be the exact same. 

(Also read: Why train is the best way to travel)

But it wasn’t exactly the same.

When we boarded the next train to Colombo one hour later from Peradeniya Junction, we sort of had an idea about how tedious our journey would be. It was, to the date, the most crowded train we’ve ever taken. We were sandwiched. Squashed, almost! The train stopped at many stations it wasn’t even supposed to stop at. That, too, twice, for more than 20 minutes. And all thanks to humidity, our clothes smelled “we need perfume. A lot! Bottles!” After 3 and a half hours barely standing on a train and being shouted at to move where there is ‘space,’ when there was none at all, we made it to Maradana. You’d think we finally made it and went home to a nice hot bath and a good cuppa! Or Nathan would make Zin a glass of chocolate mixed with vanilla ice cream and kahlua.


As soon as we are out, we met one of the manny May Day parades. And so we walked. Along with the rally, along with those who thank the politicians for the ‘glorious version of Sri Lanka’ now we have. We walked until we found a tuk. A tuk in which the meter is ‘broken’ and the driver charged 250 extra for a Rs.150 trip to the hostel.

Train Colombo NatnZin
Sunset sessions

And here, we sit in the corner table of Clock Inn Colombo, sipping an instant noodle soup. Talking about all the memorable moments we had despite the chaos. About how we’d never see and walk on an old iron bridge if we never made the tedious journey. About those Dua Lipa moments we had in the train. Those moments where everyone thought Nathan was Indian. And Chennai was much ‘worse.’ And even if we’ve to stand on a train for six long hours and eat vadai for one whole day with no chili, we’d never trade the feeling of travel for anything else. And in travel, the joy lies in the journey. Not quite with the destination.

PS: We’d talk more about how different Instagram travel v real life travel and traveling as a local couple around Sri Lanka in our next posts. Stick around!




Why Do You Travel

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We are Nathan and Zinara, documenting our experiences and stories for a lifestyle full of love and adventure. Currently based in Sri Lanka.

34 thoughts on “Why We Choose to Travel despite the Chaos

  1. I love your beautiful photos! So colorful and positive.But also the way you write – such a nice way to share your personal impressions and experiences…travelling with the one you love and share all these fantastic moments – isn’t this the best way to do?


  2. You talk about Instagram and I must say your red train picture with the sunset and beach is very Instagrammable, you just have the problem we all have of making it a square image! I hate when the auto rickshaw drivers try to overcharge, then it takes up so much energy, shouting and being rude to them just to pay what you should be paying, so much effort for a few bucks but necessary. I wouldn’t like to be in Sivan Kovil the morning you photographed it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s mostly that we think it’s important to tell the real story behind your images no matter whether they are instagrammable or not! Agree with what you told about rickshaw drivers. Nathan’s family went for a religious pooja that morning to Sivan Kovil. It indeed is a beautiful place! Zin 🙂


  3. Very entertaining post. It does seem that despite all the planning in the world, many times things just don’t go the way you thought. But, how boring would life and travel be if it all went as planned. Some of the things that went astray have created the longest lasting memories of our travels.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you and exactly! If things go as exactly as they are planned, lives wouldn’t be so interesting and we wouldn’t be left with so many beautiful memories ❤


  4. Honestly, the things you don’t see in order to get that perfect instagram shot are what makes traveling fun! Those are the moments in which you learn the most about yourself and the culture of the place you are exploring! I can’t wait to hear more of your stories!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed! But we think it’s important to forget social media while you travel. Like people now travel just to take for the ‘gram! Traveling shouldn’t be made a race. it’s way of healing. A method that brings happiness and changes you for better ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sometimes, it’s as much about the journey as it is about the destination. I know what you mean about the chaos as I lived in India for a while and it sounds alot like Sri Lanka – crowded trains, political parades and vadais all day. But one day, when you look back on it, you will have all these fascinating memories to relive.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Travel is the best thing in the world, and also if sometimes it’s difficult or doesn’t go the way we planned.. it always worth it! 🙂 plus, if you travel with your loved one, there’s nothing quite like it!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 100% agree with what you said! I think what makes thee chaotic journey more enjoyable and interesting is, we travel together. And we are two who love and care for each other. You always have the other person to smile with and crack a joke in a crowded train. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a great post. I love how personal it is; it really made me feel like I could picture what was happening. It sounds like it was definitely a memorable experience for you guys.

    I also have been thinking a lot lately about the differences between Instagram and real life – it’s always so interesting to learn about the story behind that perfect Instagram shot!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! Getting personal about our experiences than making a-z lists makes it interesting to read, right? Exactly! There’s so much left being untold and we always love to learn those beautiful stories ❤


  8. I agree Instagram photos tend to build stereotypes and often travelers may be disappointed by the “real” experience. For me, travel is not about perfect shiny breakfast and luxurious train rides, it’s about instant noodles and packed compartments. So I’m glad we share the same opinion. Happy travels!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Love this post! Travel goes beyond pretty pictures and it is often the journey towards the pretty pictures that is more exhilarating and although less glamorous, makes for a better story later on. On a side note, your photos are absolutely gorgeous (especially the one with the train against the shoreline).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! And we don’t like it that people travel just for the sake of that one pretty Instagram picture haha! Aww, thank you! Nathan, my other half takes almost all the pictures for our blog and he sure is very good at it ❤ Zin xx


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