Thursday, 25 July 2013

A Quick Week in Sri Lanka - May 2013

My first experience of Sri Lankan Airlines - disappointing! But my fault for not checking out the airline before I booked with Kuoni. I’ve just become so accustomed to the quality of Asian airlines, Catchy Pacific, Asiana Airlines and my new favourite, Malaysian Airlines. Sri Lankan planes are in desperate need of a deep clean, modernisation and their entertainment systems needs ripping out and replacing altogether. That said, the flight attendants were friendly and helpful and the food was decent and as I always say, the most important aspect of any airline is that it transports you safely to your destination.

A 2 hour 20 min comfortable transfer and we were at our hotel. Well, not quite – it was on an island, we could see it but had to take a 3 min boat transfer to reception. (see Trip advisor Godsgloriousworld for hotel review; Club Bentota)

The first text I saw when I switched my phone on was one giving me the location and telephone number of the British embassy….err, I’ve travelled to over 36 countries and never received this kind of text before….should I be worried??

I’d been wanting to talk to some locals about the 2004 tsunami but wasn’t sure how to broach the topic for fear of dredging up personal, painful memories. So today was good in the sense that 2 guys brought it up. First Rango, our water aerobic instructor mentioned it. I was asking him about his family & life in general. He brought up the tsunami and said that he was on a speed boat on the river when it struck and proceeded to show me the scars on his leg and arm. But he was of course so grateful to even be alive. Then Luba, a tour guide, shared his experience.

We saw more of the devastation caused at the tsunami museum on a day trip back from Galle. For me the saddest stories were of those still missing. Imagine not being in contact with a loved one for more than 9 years but still not having the peace of knowing that they are certainly deceased. Were they still out there somewhere, unable to get in contact with you… heartbreaking.

The turtle hatchery was hubby’s favourite trip out. A turtle farm set up for the preservation of sea turtles. We were fortunate enough to see some newborn babies hatch and hubby was brave enough to pick one up and place it in a tank of water. Amazing to see how those little legs kicked into action and it immediately started to swim.

The other trip organized by Luba (a friendly local who set up his tour company of the beach outside our hotel) was a day on the river. My fearless husband went head to head with a crocodile! We sailed through mangroves, saw both land and sea monitors and visited a herbal garden where we learned more about Ayurveda (a traditional Hindu system of medicine).

The tuk tuk rides reminded me of those in Thailand. Some of the drivers put a lot of effort into 'blinging' their up. There was even one that paid homage to Bob Marley! 

Met a lovely couple from Cornwall, Leigh & Pete, who we hung out with.

Interesting experience riding on a local train. 

To date Sri Lanka is my least favourite country in Asia. Many parts were litter filled and unlike countries such as Thailand and Japan, we got the distinct feeling that there was a lack of sincerity in the actions of locals. It seemed whatever they did, they did for a tip and good service was dependant on your tipping upfront. But that’s not to say I wouldn’t return as I only visited Aluthgama and you can’t get a fair sense of a country by spending one week in one area.

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