Trip to Sri Lanka 03-1 – my account

Kandy, Sri Lanka

As I write this, that’s where I am.  I came because I liked the name.  It’s the second biggest city in Sri Lanka.  At first I didn’t like it so much, and I’d paid for two nights in the hotel, so I decided to give up on too much planning ahead.  Normally I don’t plan much, but circumstances in Sri Lanka goaded me into a few bookings. But I’ll start at the beginning.

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.

Then “kabam”.  I was hit by careless guy with luggage trolley who wasn’t watching where he was going. design of the trolley is bad – and it hit my Achilles tendon.  It hurt to walk.  So much for my trip, which involves walking and a bit of hiking. I sat for a while, massaged it, and after a while it hurt less, but walking was still painful.  I didn’t want to catch the next flight back, after all that, so I hobbled on.
The ATM machines were easy to find.  And then 5 mobile companies – the Dialog kiosk mobbed, Mobitel was busy, Hutch was not busy but had a similar deal, and Airtel and Elisalat were not busy.  Deals all seemed similar,so I chose Hutch, although the coverage of Dialog and Mobitel is supposed to be better than the rest, and they have 4G in some places. I didn’t feel like waiting a long time.
Exiting the  airport is like entering a park.  Soon, on the far left as you exit the terminal I found the express bus to the city – Rs190. Possibly because it was Sunday the motorway was not busy and soon we were in the city – which was a bit congested. It took about 40 minutes.
The bus station is about 300m from train station.  From the bus station you turn right and walk down the main road.
Colombo Fort Station

Colombo Fort Station

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.

train to Galle

train to Galle

The scenery was very nice – mostly right on coast – but I couldn’t photograph at all.

Galle Fort area

Galle Fort area

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.

my hotel

my hotel

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.

restaurant for dinner

restaurant for dinner

dinner

dinner

Monday – day 2

I woke at 3am – wi-fi was off, so read book and planned.   As Malaysia is GMT +8, and Sri Lanka is 2 1/2 hours later at GMT + 5 1/2 it is easy to get up early and enjoy doing things in the cool mornings by staying in the Malaysian time zone in my head.
The general plan was to book all train seats that I could, for the days that I could,so the route depended on when reservations were possible. One possibility was: train to Kandy and back. Then, train Colombo to Batticaloa on the coast, bus to Trincomalee, and train back to Colombo.  Then train to Jaffna and back.
I left the hotel at 6 to catch sunrise on the beach, but it was a bit too cloudy.
view from hotel

view from hotel

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.

breakfast restaurant

breakfast restaurant

breakfast

breakfast

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.

wall and beach

wall and beach

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 sat on the balcony and planned, and then had a nap.
view from hotel

view from hotel

view from hotel

view from hotel

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.

restaurant for lunch

restaurant for lunch

lunch

lunch

view from hotel

view from hotel – I never tired of it

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.

I went out and did the second half of the walking tour from about 4PM,
one of the many churches

one of the many churches

tuk tuk

tuk tuk

wedding photo spot

wedding photo spot

and then stayed at the hotel a bit until sunset.  It was a beautiful sunset, and I took lots of photos.

sunset

sunset

sunset

sunset

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.

restaurant for dinner

restaurant for dinner

dinner

dinner

 

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