Been on a rather unplanned trip to Sri Lanka and back - these are my observations: -
(warning: long post)
This was my first opportunity to use my rusty old passport. The emigration folks at Chennai airport put their seal on the 3rd or 4th page, very randomly covering more than one box, and the ink getting smudged. The Sri Lankan immigration authorities did a neat job sealing on the first blank box and doing it very neatly.
Traveling to Colombo from Chennai/Trivandrum is much cheaper than traveling to most other places in India, with the airfare being under 3000 rupees. Duration of flight is also under 90 minutes.
Looks wise, from the air, Sri Lanka looks very much like Kerala, my home state - in fact greener (this is a rare case of me accepting any other place as greener than Kerala). Climate wise, too it is theoretically very similar to Kerala, only that in recent times Kerala has been getting lesser and lesser rates.
The bus journey was not as uncomfortable as wikitravel made it sound like (maybe experience in MTC buses helped), though it took close to two hours to reach my hotel.
There were other interesting observations in Colombo city - though the city has a sizable number of vehicles, there were no traffic jams - unbelievably pleasant surprise was the fact that vehicles kept 3-4 feet distance from the vehicles in the front, stopped at pedestrian crossing, and no one honks irritably! Shops close early (most of them by 6-7pm) and they dont have any shutters - clear glass with lights inside to highlight their main products (I could never imagine such a situation in Kerala - it would have not have lasted 1 month, with either robber or hartal activists taking them down). Maybe the constant vigil of police/paramilitary on the roads help.
The beaches at Galle Face and along Galle Road are excellent. Food options are heavenly for non-vegetarians, and non veg fare starts right from the morning (very much like Kerala). For a keralite, food is pretty much the same - Appam (interesting Anglicized name - Hoppers), Idiyappam (String Hoppers), Paratha (similar to Kerala/Malabar Paratha, except, square in shape), Pittu (called Puttu in Kerala).
Also made a weekend trip to Kandy, but thats for another post.