Kandy, Sri Lanka
Sunday – day 1
I caught the first plane of the morning out of Penang to KL. It was quite empty. After bout three hours I caught the flight to Colombo. The flight was only one-third full, so it was very relaxed – and it took only 3 hours.
From the plane to immigration was only 100m – none of those miles of corridors at many airports. All the web sites, including the Sri Lankan Government ones, say to get an electronic visa online. I hate doing that. So I didn’t. I went to the visa on arrival counter, which was immediately ahead of me after coming out of the plane and turning left, and the counter had no customers, and took 2 minutes -$35 – change in dollars. Much better than an electronic visa.
At immigration there was no waiting so I was through very quickly. There were duty-free shops on way to customs – prices were very high, and I didn’t need the extra weight.Then straight thru customs. Wow, everything from when I left home at 4.30AM had gone so smoothly.
At the station all seats to Galle were gone, so all I could do is get a 3rd class ticket which cost Rs100 – waited 30 mins for train – and then had to stand the whole way. My feet were killing me standing on the train. People kept on pushing past and the carriage was crowded, but at least I could put my bag on the luggage rack near me.
The scenery was very nice – mostly right on coast – but I couldn’t photograph at all.
On arrival I walked around Galle & finally found a room I liked – Lighthouse View Inn – Rs5,000 per night – no amenities or blanket – but ac, wi-fi – which they turned off overnight. The part of Galle inside the fort is very touristy. My feet were killing me, but I discovered I could walk painlessly if I wore flip-flops.
After showering, I had a quiet beer on balcony & went out for dinner. In this area they are tourist prices but it was a pleasant location.
Monday – day 2
I wore flip-flops,and changed to shoes at the station – when it’s crowded I didn’t want people stepping on my feet. Then I went to the station to try for train ticket with seat reservation. None. But I was told to catch 7.25am to Colombo, and then book a-c seat to Kandy at 10.30. One can’t buy the 7.25 until tomorrow, and can’t reserve a seat, but it shouldn’t be crowded. The train should arrive in about two hours, so I’d have one hour at the station to try to book tickets and eat something. I had breakfast near the station – rice,fish curry, Dahl, coconut, etc for Rs200.
Then I walked back via Galle walking tour in Lonely Planet. There are so many Chinese tourists. Either girls, or young couples. And French and Dutch. Will do the second half of the walking tour when it’s cool. Already it’s too hot by 10am.
So it turns out one can book in advance at Colombo station, but elsewhere not much. I made a rough plan to try to book in advance. And for hotels: In a small town – I can decide the best from LP, list in order with addresses – then walk around and choose. For bigger towns ringing is the best choice first and book if possible – ask for a-c, bathroom with hot water, wi-fi
I went for lunch. Coconut pumpkin was my favourite. I will have to learn to make it. Otherwise there was prawn curry, dahl, lady fingers, aubergine, and jackfruit seeds – all in separate dishes. All were very good. And a pot of ginger tea.
I booked the nights of 28 & 29 at http://www.mangogarden.lk. in Kandy. I think the city is much bigger than Galle, so rather than walking and checking, booking is more sensible, I thought.
and then stayed at the hotel a bit until sunset. It was a beautiful sunset, and I took lots of photos.
Another expensive dinner in the tourist zone. But it was nice. One trick seems to be to have no prices shown, and when you pay you find out it’s more costly than you imagined. e.g. Rs300 for a lime juice. A pot of tea is 300. But if I have a tea in a local restaurant it’s about 1/10th the price. So I should drink plenty of water before going to a restaurant. Drinks are way overpriced compared to the food. Nevertheless, apparently one shouldn’t drink tap water. Although it seems fine to brush one’s teeth with it.