It’s my second weekend in Sri Lanka. My friends and I are in Sigiriya for the weekend, staying at a small hotel and taking in the sights. Go back and read that article if you want before you proceed. We arrive at the hotel Friday night and the very kind owner knocks on our door about 30 minutes after we checked in. He says “I have a guy downstairs wondering if any of our guests would be interested in being in a travel video. You just have to ride bicycles for a few minutes.” My friend and I look at each other, shrug our shoulders, and said: “f*ck it, why not?”
The next morning, we went downstairs at 8:30 am thinking we’d just be walking out to the street in front of the hotel to ride bikes for this guy’s video. Nope. There was a driver waiting for us in a very nice car. He got out and introduced himself as being a tour guide for the Sri Lankan Tourism Board. Turns out that we were about to be a part of a very legitimate ad campaign.
We drove to a lake with a breathtaking view of Pidurangala and Sigiriya. There was a full film crew waiting for us and we were given bottled water, juice, and packs of cookies. We were truly treated like stars. The guys were so funny and friendly, all we did was laugh and laugh. We took more selfies than I’d ever taken in my life. I think they really thought we were celebrities. They gave us the cutest bikes with big baskets and rode up and down a dirt road a few times while a drone filmed us. It was a lot of fun! I also happened to be wearing my Figgyduff Dory shirt with a giant puffin plastered on the front. A typical Newfoundlander right here.
We were so grateful to have had this experience. We felt great because it was spontaneous and unique and a hell of a good story. We would have never gotten such an incredible view of Pidurangala and Sigiriya had we declined. We were treated like stars and got to meet some really friendly and talented locals. Then they asked if they could use us for more scenes because we ‘fit the image.’ We accepted, partly out of politeness and partly out of interest to see what else was in store.
Our driver, who by this point we knew by name, took us to a King Coconut stand where he would also be in the video. This scene was a lot more staged and scripted. We did multiple takes and laughed through it all. I learned a lot about acting– by that I mean I gained a lot of perspective and respect for the hard work and long hours actors and actresses put in. It’s exhausting! We had fun nonetheless. Plus we got to sip coconuts and eat fresh fruit. Yum.
After the coconut scene, we had been out filming with these people for more than three hours! We were pretty tired. They asked us to do one final scene. This time, we accepted purely to be polite. This final scene was so corny– and intense. We had lines to say, marks to hit, and two co-stars. It was hot and we were tired. But we did it, and they dropped us off safely at our hotel FIVE HOURS after they picked us up. What we expected to take 15 minutes took way longer than that. The crew understood that we were tired and that they had asked way more of us than was expected. Even though my friends and I were a little irritable by the end, it was so worth it. It was a really fun day and an experience that we could have never paid for or planned. Plus, we have this cool memento of our trip:
All three of my scenes are featured. Can you spot me? Comment if you can!
What are your unique and/or unexpected travel experiences? We would love to hear your stories!! Comment them on this article, reach out to us on social media (@twowildtides), or send us an email.
sorry, no autographs 😉