Friday, June 17, 2016

Negambo - Sri Lanka

Taking my time for digesting the fact that I actually, truly had my moment to one of the best travelling prides in South Africa (Pretoria City Tour & Cape Town), prior to that travel conquering Thailand as well (The Golden Triangle & Chiang Mai), within the next few months, I decided. Money was still sunny, so, why not, I had already allocated the cash aside, I ventured on my own again. However, I had no clue whatsoever where it should be. I went like, where should I start. Of course, what are travel agents for? For us to opt between the choices to all paid for packages. After weighing the pros and cons, I made up my mind. Sri Lanka my paradise. Already been said, countless times as a must do, primarily by Indians. Whether Sri Lanka is a popular destination amongst our Malaysian Chinese or Malays, I really can't affirm, but Sri Lanka, without a doubt, sincerely have been ranked as one of the number one spots by Indians. Why not? I too have been toying with the idea of Sri Lanka venturing. Can't be all the time lending my ears to others who can't stop blowing hot air on literally Sri Lanka everything instead of me myself finding out if Sri Lanka is as sensation as said to be? 

Opting for the all in one 7 days tour, can be regarded as quite affordable, but since my other half-half checkmate out and agent suggested I join the group of four Chinese, believe me, Chinese, shocker for me, Chinese to Sri Lanka mind you, instead of me solo travelling, honestly, I had no qualms whatsoever. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, don't you agree? Solo flying from our airport, and upon stepping foot in Bandaranaike International Airport, duh, I had a hard time trying to explain to the immigration and customs I am actually in Sri Lanka for a holiday. Thanks to my smart me for coming prepared by carrying all the necessary papers listed with travel arrangements, itinerary and where and where I will be heading. Yet, despite all of it, I still had to answer a list of questions. Seemingly a norm each and every time I travel alone, wonder why, maybe I look like a woman who is gonna prowl on the guys, or maybe they felt I had dirty tricks up my sleeves. Me and prostitution or me and drugs? Please. For god sake. I was cool and calm, I didn't want to rock the Sri Lankan boat. Eventually, phew, everything cleared, took some time trying to put sense and sensibility into those officers, believe me, by the time I came out of the airport after collecting my luggage from the other end, I was lost. No ply cards with my name on, nor could I identify who are the 4 Chinese I will be joining. 

For once, I froze. I thought, gone for me. Basically, I didn't know what is going on or which direction to turn to. Luckily, one of the Chinese spotted me. Oh-heaven! Otherwise, I couldn't have imagined. Anyway, counting my blessings, we quickly got into the van with the tour guide-cum-driver, prior to journeying for our first ever meal in Sri Lanka. While on the way, I told the just met travel buddies what transpired at the airport. Customs officer thought RM500.00 is a lot of money to shop, also, local tour agent wasn't even aware I am one of them in this tour. Really a frustrating start, but anger soon vanished once we walked into the impressive and surrounded in a luscious garden St.Lachan Hotel.
Being seated in the equally attractive dining area, we further got to know each other while munching the crispy snack and pinching into the freshly baked bun. Amidst waiting for half an hour for the main meal, indeed, worth the wait. We loved the royal like service whereby we just sat back and the waiter actually served us by putting rice, side dishes and curries on our plates. Moreover, once we tucked in, we couldn’t stop talking about this sumptuous authentic Sri Lankan meal. Deliciousness. Utterly. Home Style, lotsa of spices, coconut milk and fresh seafood. 

Sincerely a marvelous opener, hopefully, more will follow at other eateries, we then embarked on a city drive-through tour in Negambo. The second largest city in the Western province after Colombo, located at the lagoon-mouth and a major tourist destination for its thriving fishing industry. First stop after twenty minutes was at 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. Painted ceiling, as well as alabaster statues of various saints.

Only so much we could explore because we didn't want to get into the way of the wedding. Henceforth, apart from viewing the outside, for the next 15 minutes or so, we quickly peeped into the church. By far, St. Mary’s Church is another church. Unless if I would have entered inside, I can tell you specifically what is outstanding or its uniqueness. Leaving the church compound, while still at city tour, we noticed the villages and locals selling the fresh catch along the road side. By 4pm, 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 patiently waited for my room key, thereafter, struggled in carrying my luggage by walking two floors up to my room. Nang! I was utterly disappointed. 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 shouldn't be doubted. 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 decided over a spa treatment, inclusive of transport to and fro from 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 me in the traditional sauna, within the next 10 minutes, I couldn’t take it because I felt claustrophobic. My whole body, except my face boxed in the wooden sauna. I said enough, I showered, I settled the bill and I was transported back to the village, so called hotel.
From the almost finishing off buffet, I ate, prior to returning to room. Shower again and just as I was about to call it a night, the phone rang. Not once but twice. The same male staff kept pestering me for a night out clubbing or wanting to come over to my room. Oh-no. Scary. Free sex? Professionally telling him that I am tired, I think he got the message but still fearing for myself, I checked, over and over if I have locked my room, which actually, if you give a hard kick, the door will go flying out and on the other side, the noisy air cond literally making hell of a noise for further putting fear into me. Seriously, I, maybe, I only cat napped for two to three hours the most.   
Up by 5pm, another shower before getting ready and walking to the fishing village within a fifteen minutes distance. 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 made it a point in explaining to me about fishing, their source of income. Wow! Good Samaritans. Thank you.  

An hour at the beach, back to the hotel for breakfast and by 9am, tour guide arrived with the 4 travel buddies for the start of our second day. Negambo to Kandy. On the whole, for the hours I was in Negambo, Negambo is nothing more except a a traditional fishing village. Even according to our guide, but I bet Negambo is where you can rest back and idle your time for taking your moment to a stress free holiday. Basically, Negambo is where you can forget about work, tuck into fresh seafood daily and maybe, search your soul for what you want out of life.  

To be continued………..

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