Published: July 12th 2012July 10th 2012
After our last trip to Vietnam. We travelled Air Asia again for our trip to Sri Lanka. I have to admit that at first we were a little nervous flying to a country that has been under the radar compared to many other destinations.
Day 1 - Colombo City - Galle Face Green, Crescat, Shalimar Hotel
We arrived at the Bandaranaike Internaional Airport on Sunday July 1st. After thoroughly reading the travel books about arrival, as soon as we got there we headed off to the bank counters to exchange our dollars into a local rupees. Our exchange rate at the Bank was 1dollars =131. 76 rupees. After getting our local currency we didn't really know what to do next we stood there reading our travel book or as I call it our bible where it says the transport should cost about $25 to colombo city. A gentleman saw us and walked over to ask where we wanted to go. We gave the name of our hotel and showed him the street address. He agreed to take us there for 2400 rupees ($18) which we thought was absolutely fantastic deal, we agreed and he took us out to the parking outside the airport. We stood there nervous as cars drive by secretly
thinking what car would it be since we ended up in a not so nice car in vietnam....luckily a good, new looking proton sedan drove up to us, parked and helped us into the car. Our first driver spoke enough English to ask if this was our first time in SriLanka and that if we hired him for the city tour it would be cheaper than going through the desk at the airport.
During the ride to our hotel we argued that the country looked like roads in Laos or India even little towns in Thailand all in all we concluded that we were just mixing it with everywhere else we had been to.
We arrived our hotel after a 30 minutes drive, it was a sunday so the traffic was not crazy. We got to our hotel "Shalimar Hotel, located on Panchikawatte Road located right next to Maradana Train Station about 20 KM from the airport. Upon entering the hotel, it looked old but well maintained, not the most impressive right away. We gave our agoda booking. A young bellboy took our stuff up to room 201. Ones you enter walk up the stairs I was impressed
with the wooden furnitures and stairs, the place had alot of charater to it. The second story had a restaurant and a patio looking down to the first floor with flower decoration on the sides. I thought it had a feel of the houses in India that I remember spending my vacations during my childhood.
Our room was AMAZING, for the price we paid, it was huge, you enter the room to a Tv area, just 2 chairs a table and TV with cables, walk further in and its a nice clean bed with air con, okay size shower. room service, free wifi. We were very happy with our pick. We paid $88 for 2 nights.
We went down to the restaurant, it seemed quiet but decided to try the food as it came highy recommended in the hotel reviews. We ordered Rice & Chicken Curry and Chicken Stew. IT WAS AMAZING!!!!! The portions of the rice is massive. If you order rice in Sri Lanka, one rice = one big plate that would be more than enough for 2 people (and we are big girls).
We asked the tuk tuk driver to take us
to Galle Face Green, a long seafront walk, a popular spot for the locals to hangout. As soon as we got there we were introduced to one of the scams in the book, the elephant scam. A gentlemen dressed very neat approaches us and offers information about the road and a little bit of history of the location then he says " there's an elepant show, today", loks at his watch and continues "it starts now". His hand kind of tries to force us to walk towards the direction he suggested. My friend quickly told him to stop and that we were not interested, Thank you.
The walk was beautiful, windly and it did not look like it was the swim season the waves were so high ocaaasionally it would splash and get us wet. You can see alot of college couples taking a long relaxing walk holding hands however being the only tourists can cause a stare. The small food stalls lined us next to each other gave a colorful background while takin photos. We sat close to one of the stalls and watched as locals bought a pancake with shrimps on it asn shared it with their
Galle Face Green
Stalls by the beach
family members and girlfriends. You can see the guys helping girls carry their bags.
It was a sunday so the city was pretty dead, not much happening, but according to our driver arriving on sunday saved us at least an hour in traffic. No doubt it would be exactly like home in Bangkok.We then walked further along the road passed the St. Andrew's Scott church, where one of our Srilanka friend got marreid to his Japanese wife. As it started to pour we headed into the crescat shopping mall. The mall had 7-10 stores on each floor, the entrance floor and you could go down into the foodcourt. The foodcourt was qiet a display. I didn't try any food just a fruit shake. Then we headed up to the bookstore. The english books are sold for 1/4 the price sold in Thailand or 1/3 of US/Uk prices according to my guide book. I spent good 30 minutes selecting the books, confused if I should get all of them I was tempted to everything from Archie comics, Nancy Drew collections to Psychologocial books but i limited myself to only 2 Archie comics and 2 short stories by local authors.
After the rain we were pretty tired from no sleep and late night so we headed out to get a tuktuk afraid to get foreigners price again but asked anyways. Our driver wanted 150 ruppes (we paid 500 rs to get there from the hotel). He was very helpful spoke good english and when we got to our hotel he asked if we were interested n using his service to tour the city for one day. We aske dhim where would he take us? He suggested temples, churches, markets, drive around the city etc. We asked how much do you want for one day tour? he said "2500 rupees", (all the other drivers wanted us 5000 rupees fro a day's tour) this was a god send deal so we asked him to show up the next morning right where he dropped us at 9am sharp. he did the head nodding, gave his business card and he introduced himself " My name is Manoj".
Happy and exhausted we went back to our hotel and spent the whole evening relaxing. We ordered amazing room service again this time i tried chicken Briyani and devilled chicken. Chicken Briyani ( my pick) was amazing, my friends pick deviled chicken, not so much. All evening we watched star movie marathon, underdog, wanted and felt asleep to sherlock holmes.