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Published: March 4th 2020
Saturday 29, February, 2020 cont'd
At 7.00 pm we went down to get some dinner.
Pat ordered grilled chicken and I ordered chicken fried rice. As usual here it all took a little while. Pat's was a little spicy but ok.
The hotel has a Chinese connection and last night in the restaurant of about 15 people, we were the only non-Chinese. Most of them seem to be into scuba diving.
Back to the room for 8.30 pm and lights out 10.00 pm.
Sunday 1 March, 2020.
Another good nights sleep, woke at 6.30 am, stirred at 7.00 am. Down to breakfast at 8.00 am. Sliced fruits, omelette, bacon, sausages, French toast, toast, fruit juice, tea and coffee.
You order breakfast from a menu. The waiter is a softly spoken young man, who gets most things right, but occasionally you just take what you are given.
Back to the room for 9.00 am.
An easy day is the plan. We took advantage of the sun loungers on the beach for a while. Then took a slow walk along the sand. Tried unsuccessfully to book dinner tonight next door at a seperate place. W
We have now made some rough plans for our last two weeks and what we might like to do. Some further research and investigations required to work out our transfers, then we can make some bookings.
A quiet afternoon, then down to dinner at 6.30 pm. Pat had the chicken fried rice and I had bean fried chicken and rice off the Chinese menu.
We completed our research and now need to confirm the train and make a booking at the railway station in Trinco to get us across the island to Negombo. The Railway website said there was a night train, but no information about a day train, which every where else said existed. A little confusing, so we will see.
Lights out 9.55 pm.
Monday 2 March, 2020
A good nights sleep. Visit to Trinco today.
Woke at 6.55 am and went to breakfast at 7.55 am. The usual food.
Back to the room, Pat did a little laundry and then were on our our way at 10.05 am.
Today we walked up to the main road along the track and waited a little while for the bus. There were some locals waiting as well today.
For the first time we got on a red bus. These are government operated and the fare was LKR 39 (GBP 0.17) each. The drivers are in training for Formula1.
We had seen the CWGC Trincomalee war cemetery from the bus on our trip recently. It was part of our plan today to visit and we had it marked on our phones and managed to get off at the correct bus stop. Burials are from the second world war and beyond, with over 300 plots and several nationalities.
We went in and there was no visitors book in the usual place. There were a number of gardeners around. We spent a while looking at the site. As we were on our way back to the entrance, we were approached and given the visitors book, by one of the gardeners and made our entry.
We stood outside and a tuktuk stopped, of course. Our next visit was the Railway station and we had no plans to walk. Trincomalee is the end of the railway line, in more ways than one! Price of LKR 200 (GBP 0.87) agreed.
We had a good idea of the train we wanted, but would like direct confirmation. We found the ticket office and the train we want is at 6.50 am, all the way back to Colombo Fort arriving 3.30 pm. Ticket only to be purchased in the morning. Objective achieved.
Now for a wander. We found a big Bank of Ceylon, with an ATM and got more cash. The Pizza Hut we had an idea might exist was found.
There are foodcity direction signs all over and we tracked that down and bought some supplies for tomorrow on the train, it was 12.30 pm. We were kind of finished walking and were carrying shopping now. Pizza Hut was the only place that had inspired us for something to eat or drink, so we jumped into a tuktuk and headed back that way.
We shared a medium Pizza and watched the world hurrying by. Then another tuktuk to the bus station. We found our bus and we found a seat. It didn't leave for ages and it filled up considerably. It filled up more and more as we left Trinco.
At the point of us wanting to get off it was really difficult and we went quite a distance past our stop, before we managed to disembark.
Then another tuktuk down the track to the hotel. Straight to the bar and had a beer and a coke. Time was 3.30 pm. And relax.....!
We have arranged our tuktuk transport for 6.00 am tomorrow, from the hotel to take us to the station. Price should be LKR 800 (GBP 3.48).
Now we knew train times, Pat was able to confirm our next hotel booking, which will be in Negombo, about 30 kms from Colombo.
We will arrive in Colombo tomorrow afternoon and then we transfer to Negombo, by another train which runs more often.
So packing to be done and a quieter afternoon.
We went downstairs at 6.30 pm and had a snack, paid our room bill and had a final look at the sea. Lights out 9.50 pm
Tuesday 3 March, 2020
Transfer from Trincomalee to Negombo via Colombo Fort.
Alarm set for 5.30 am.Never a good nights sleep when the alarm is set.
Awake 5.10 am, alarm off at 5.30 am and up, quick wash and final packing.
Bags downstairs and nobody around. Security guard showed up and the tuktuk came down the road. Loaded up and off to the station.
Fairly quiet and we were dropped off at the station steps, gave the guy a tip and paid LKR 1000 (GBP 4.34). Purchased our 2nd class tickets LKR 500 (GBP 2.17) each.
The station was not too busy. We were told the train was 6.50 am. All the locals said seven, We left at 7.16 am. Our compartment only had two other people with us.
The rolling stock is many many years old. The train stopped at every station. At Galoya station we were unexpectedly told to get off the train and transfer to another, which we knew nothing about. Time was 8.45am. The posted train schedule said Colombo depart 9.15 am.
Our next train was much newer and we departed at 9.25 am.
There was a family with a little baby, Sat next to us. The baby was a little sweetie and was quiet the enitire trip. The father was very doting and hands on.
Not a lot I can say about eight and a half hours on a jostling train. We stopped at a number of stations, but not every one. We watched the countryside mainly, never saw any elephants. Pat saw monkeys, and there were lots of cattle, peacocks and fields of rice. Our carriage remained fairly empty, which helped.
We finally arrived at Colombo Fort at 3.30 pm. We know this station, so I left Pat guarding the cases, left the platform area, exited and found the correct ticket window, which had no queue, purchased our onward tickets to Negombo LKR 180 (GBP 0.78), found out the platform and final station,which helps on the update monitor.
We chose the express train at 4.45 pm, which sadly was late and also jam packed full of commuters, so we had to stand for the entire journey arriving in Negombo at 6.00 pm.
There seemed to be a general etiquette on this train about people sharing seats and rotating. The ladies put handbags on tables and overhead racks, to be out of the way. Seemed to be the same with guys backpacks, with no apparent fear of theft.
There was a card game being played, and people watching, a girl perched on the table they were playing at didn't seem to be a problem. It was like this all happened every day.
The stations are not set up for travellers with luggage, steps everywhere. We fought our way out and straight into the arms of a tuktuk driver who knew the road the hotel was on, and agreed on a price of LKR 400 (GBP 1.74 ) It was a Piaggio ape, which is slightly wider than the usual tuktuk's and takes us and our luggage no problem.
Direct to hotel with a welcome at the door, peop!e taking luggage, providing welcome drinks, cold towel and various information. Up to the room and showered! We both needed to.
Dinner menu looked ok, so upstairs to the rooftop restaurant at 6.45 pm. Two sweet and sour chicken meals (one spicy, one not) One mojito, one coke and a big water. Enjoyed our meals, signed our bills, back to the room, for 8.00 pm.
Pat was out like a light. Lights out 9.00 pm.
Wednesday 4 March, 2020
Quiet day planned. Didn't sleep well.
Awake 7.00 am and stirred 7.30 am. No breakfast arranged at this hotel, so a slower start is possible.
We did some unpacking and general sorting out as we are here for six nights.
At 10.05 am, we headed off with a small list of things we hoped to find.
We say we are in Negombo, but technically we are in Etthukala, which is joined to Negombo, but further along.
Our first thing to look at was the sea. We went down a side road and found the beach. Then back to the main coast road.
We stopped at a cafe called Pick & Mix, and had an English breakfast. Omelette, toast, sliced fruits, tea and coffee, and water LKR 600 (GBP 2.60) each. A very jovial chap and we enjoyed our food. Pat looked around a souvenir shop opposite and the we continued our walking until we saw a big church, St. Sebastian's. A very grand building, we had a look inside.
We eventually made it into the city of Negombo and walked up and down the streets. A bustling, vibrant place, with few tourists. This has much more of a city centre feel, than anywhere else we have been in Sri Lanka.
We had a coffee in a nice place behind a foodcity, then did our shopping. Jumped in a tuktuk, agreed a price, but actually he got it wrong, although in the right direction. We navigated him and got back to the hotel for 2.00 pm.
We spoke to reception and sorted out some stuff. Dropped shopping in the room and went downstairs to the bar to have a drink.
Back again to the room for 3.00 pm.
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