Back from the splendid 9 days South Africa tour, within the next few months, I decided to venture out to the world on my own again (Solo Trip To Bangkok). With no clue whatsoever where I should head to, I spoke to a couple of travel agents (Vietnam & Cambodia). Ultimately, I was destined to the paradise of Sri Lanka in an all arranged affordable 7 days tour, inclusive of accommodation in 3 star hotels. Despite feeling guilty leaving behind my other half-half who definitely will be lonely without me (Perth & Turkey), I still eagerly departed (Travelling Solo When You Married). No hiccups whatsoever all the way to the airport, except I couldn’t understand why the Indian and Sri Lankan women kept staring at me when boarding and what’s with the two huge Sri Lankan men I sat alongside on board who wouldn’t stop grinning cheekily throughout the flight.
Upon arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport, I was not surprised I had to answer a whole list of questions by the immigration and customs. Always a norm whenever I travel alone, this time quite a lengthy process. Thankfully, the 4 Chinese Malaysians I will be touring with patiently waited outside the airport. Otherwise, I couldn't have imagined what would I have done. Anyway, counting my blessings, we quickly got into the van with the tour guide-cum-driver, and as we journeyed for the first ever meal in Sri Lanka, I expressed my disappointment about the customs officer who thought RM500.00 is a lot of money to shop, also, why the local tour agent wasn't even aware about me travelling alone to join the tour. Honestly, quite a frustrating start, but anger soon vanished once we walked into the impressive and surrounded in a luscious garden St.Lachan Hotel.
As we sat at the equally attractive dining area, we got to know each other while munching the crispy snack and pinched into the freshly baked bun. Amidst waiting for half an hour for the main meal, it was worth the wait. We loved the royal like service whereby we just sat back and the waiter actually served us by adding the rice, side dishes and curries on our plates. Moreover, once we tucked in, we couldn’t stop talking about the sumptuous authentic Sri Lankan food cooked with lots of spices, coconut milk and fresh seafood.
Indeed, a truly promising meal, hopefully more will follow at other eateries, we then embarked on a city drive-through tour to the nearby places in Negambo - the second largest city in the Western province after Colombo, located at the lagoon-mouth and a major tourist destination for its history and lifestyle with thriving fishing industry. The first stop after twenty minutes was at the 140 years old St Mary’s Church - one of the biggest attraction and larger cathedrals in Sri Lanka, St. Mary’s Church is the biggest cathedral in Negombo and has a painted ceiling as well as alabaster statues of various saints.
On this day, since a wedding will be commencing soon, it was rather impossible to view the interior of the church. So, we stood at the entrance to quickly glimpse at the gothic columns, clean cream walls and religious depictions painted all across the ceiling. By 4pm, the tour buddies were dropped off at Camelot Beach Hotel whereas I was booked into facing the busy narrow main road Paradise Holiday Village.
Bustling with Western tourists, I had to wait quite a while to collect the key, thereafter struggled with my big luggage and hand carried bag all the way to the second floor. Once I entered the room, I was utterly disappointed with what I saw – old furnitures, the thinnest mattress, pillows and blanket, noisy air-cond, just a small bar of soap in the bathroom, no kettle and wifi.
In fact, resembling a dungeon room, though cleanliness was okay, I definitely didn’t want to stay put inside. Returning to the reception, as suggested by the male staff who also was getting frisky, I opted for a spa treatment with transport provided at Jasmine Villa Ayurveda Resort. Between the spa packages in this serene and traditional center, I opted for the stress reducing and tension relieving oil massage. Fantastic, but when it came to the sauna, within the next 10 minutes, I couldn’t take it because I felt claustrophobic lying in the coffin like wooden box sauna. I then showered, settled the bill and was transported back to the village.
From the almost finishing off buffet, I ate, went back to room, showered and just as I was about to call it a night, the male staff called to pester me to go out with him or to come over to my room. Feeling rather uncomfortable, I professionally told him I am too tired and then I slept off before checking over and over if I have locked the room. Thank god, I was save.
The next day, I was up by 5pm, got ready and walked to the 15 minutes away fishing village (Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Morning Market Penang, Fremantle WA Market & Fish Market Bergen Norway) Standing around at the shore while the sun was slowly rising and literally stared at by all the men, I braved myself and broke the ice by speaking to some of them in Tamil. Surprisingly, in return these nice guys explained about the fishing industry.
An hour at the beach, I was back to the hotel for breakfast. By 9am, the tour guide arrived with the 4 travel buddies to begin our second day by travelling to Kandy.
To be continued………..
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