Suba Gaman is the pioneer in tuk tuk tours in Sri Lanka before the market got flooded with similar brands that somehow, could never do it as well. In Sinhala, ‘Suba Gaman’ wishes well for a journey ahead. The identity developed by Sri Lankan visual designer Thilini Perera was that of a fun, easygoing, approachable brand that had a touch of tropical vibrancy to it. Keeping with this identity, our challenge was to create written content that was flexible for both print and web.
A city, culture and chaos on three-wheels
Colombo is a place where fantastic remnants of culture and exquisite glimpses into history exist side by side with absolute chaos. This tiny island nation’s commercial capital– Colombo is slowly growing into a full-fledged metropolitan. This is why its last remaining strongholds of a bygone quaint city teeming with heritage becomes increasingly interesting and also sadly, more tiresome to reach amidst the daily pandemonium of traffic and business. This is where ‘Suba-gaman’ saves the day. This small-scale local tour operator conducted solely on three-wheeled vehicles is run by husband-wife duo. They host a fantastic sightsee of hidden city gems which are a fun mix of beautiful, quirky, awe-inspiring and just plain bizarre. Trained drivers who double as English-speaking, informative tour guides are all yours minus the fancy charges making it easily among the most delightful and economical ways to experience Colombo.
The little three-wheeled taxis fondly known by locals as ‘tuk-tuks’ after the sound of their sputtering little engines, are infamous for their surprising speed, ability to manoeuver through tiny streets and traffic with ease and open sides that allow the city to sweep right through you with all its sounds, sights and scents in high definition. The lovely people at Suba Gaman allow tourists to get this adrenaline-charged experience of riding a tuk-tuk, within a safe setting, assisted by trained, English-speaking tuk-tuk drivers. Yes, they are real tuk-tuk drivers who conduct tours with Suba-gaman on a reserved basis. This is awesome, because these men who are patron dwellers of Colombo have their own takes, stories and memories of the city which they will share with you throughout the journey.
What is truly cool about Suba-gaman is their standard tour itinerary, which is no standard tour itinerary by any means. Keeping an admirable distance from ‘touristy’ main retail streets of the city, Suba-gaman takes you on a rather unusual and eccentric string of places that will give you the most raw tour experience of Colombo. The approximately 2.5 hour excursion steers you through a series of fun places like the creepy old Town Hall Museum, the beautifully post-gothic Wolvendaal Church, colourful Sri Kailasanthar Hindu temple and even obscure delights like the jail cell of the last king of Sri Lanka, a queer coin museum and the Galle Face Lighthouse that looks like it was specially made for sunset selfies. With a few more added perks like a mineral water bottle and king coconut drinks (not forgetting your own obliging tour-guide), Suba-gaman is a sure deal for 25 PP USD.
‘Suba gaman’, in the native Sinhala tongue, is an affirmative bid of farewell to a traveller for a joyful journey. And that’s certainly what this mini city-escapade is.