After our 4 hour flight on Sri Lankan Airways we arrived at the international Airport, Colombo and with the one and a half hour time zone change it was around 0500 hrs; a short night with minimal sleep on the plane! We were lucky that though it was a fullish flight we had three seats between us.
One of the first off the plane and onto a bus to the terminal and wow, the heat hit us, great. Again one of the first in the queue for passport control only to be turned round and told to fill in a landing card, this should have been given to us on the plane, but it wasn’t. Once completed we were back into one of the many passport control counters And through very quickly, very efficient. We arrived at the carousel to find our case coming round on the belt, never been so quick before.
Out of the airport in under half an hour then into negotiating with the taxi drivers for the best rate. The one we decided on was not the cheapest but we both felt more confident with him, don’t know why though! Cases loaded and we were on our way, still dark, firstly to a petrol station, then to change drivers, odd or what, probably shift changeover. The first driver was a slow and careful driver but the second was a complete lunatic, driving flat out along an uneven road lined with early morning commuters and shops, honking his horn continually and weaving in and out of the traffic until he only just managed to stop before hitting another vehicle up the backside. Tyres screeching, burnt rubber as we skidded and he stopped and stalled the engine in the process. I don’t think you could have put a cigarette paper between the two vehicles and at this point I was compelled to say something, in fact quite a lot. He then started to drive a little more sensibly, not a lot though, anyway dawn came up and we arrived at the Galle Face Hotel 1 hour later. I think the white knuckle ride in the taxi measured up to several of the rides in Ferrari World!!!!!!
We tried to check in but 0600 hrs was a little early but they said they would do their best to get us in before the normal 1400 hrs check in. We waited ’till 0700 hrs for the restaurant to open then indulged in a hearty breakfast. After our leisurely breakfast lasting about an hour we went on a tour of the hotel.
The Galle Face Hotel, is an typically old colonial hotel opened in 1864 and though it is a little tired is still
splendid. There are a lot of re-furbishments going on and one half of the hotel is a building site. I particularly wanted to book in here as my Father used to stay here every time he came to Ceylon, as it used to be know as before, and he always had glowing reports about the place. Of course, the last time he was here was just before he died, 54 years ago, so I was not too sure what I would find, though it is still listed as a 5 star hotel, so far I
am not disappointed, “flunkies” everywhere, a very high staff to guest ratio, wonderful.
We were actually in our room about 0900 hrs, the hotel did us proud, we showered and then had a couple of hours “kip” before venturing out.
I received an e mail from Martin wondering if I had had a gin and tonic with my breakfast as now we are out of the “dry” Arab countries and in a Country with a more liberal attitude to alcohol, but I couldn’t even if I wanted as today is a “Poya Day” it is a very religious day in the Buddha calendar , it is a Bank Holiday and it is illegal to consume alcohol in public, so that was that!!!
We walked out of the hotel and were approached by a guy who said he was one of the off duty barmen from our hotel and asked if we were going to the Buddha temple to see the holy elephant. Anyway, we tagged along with him to see where we
ended up, a Tuc Tuc ride later and he took us into this magnificent
temple where on certain days only, today was one of them, when the priests display their Priceless gold, silver, ivory and other precious stones and artefacts for the faithful to look at. We were quite taken at the beauty and wealth on display, no wonder there were police everywhere. The sad thing is we only popped out to find the local supermarket and didn’t have a camera, only Christine’s ‘phone camera, still she managed to get some pictures. We were introduced to the holy Elephant, he was a baby (7 yrs old), he sniffed us and we stroked his trunk apparently this will bring us good luck! Next we were given some cotton wrist bands, touched on the heads by a Buddha Priest with
some religious pot, asked for a donation and then told we would have more good luck. On the way out to collect our shoes, yes we had to go in with bare feet, not my favourite pastime, walking in bare feet! We noticed two vintage cars, an old Mercedes Benz and a Rolls Royce, so early, it had the red RR embalm on the front. When I asked what these two cars were doing here,; apparently they were donated to the temple, strange we thought. So far so good, this chap from the hotel had taken us somewhere we would never had gone to and had we gone there at any other time, we wouldn’t have had the privilege of seeing these artefacts.
Back into the Tuc Tuc and now the real reason for his attention. He took us to a Gem Stone shop where they tried everything to sell us semi precious and precious gem stones from their mines in Sri Lanka, but we resisted as there was nothing Christine particularly liked.
Back into the Tuc Tuc and onto the hotel where we paid the driver and gave this chap, who took us out and about, a drink.
Sitting in the Hotel reading some of the “bumph” in our room, we read and were warned about locals who jump on tourists and say they work in the hotel and offer to take then to see something special, they then guide them to a shop and if a sale takes place, get their commission. Ah well we had a good morning and very pleased we went.
This afternoon we lounged by the pool, looking over the Indian Ocean and had 40 winks, unfortunately it was overcast and eventually it spitted rain, so in we went for a cuppa.
This evening we decided to eat in the hotel’s only restaurant, it’s. The only one at present due to all the refurbishments, but still nice. Tomorrow we may eat poolside as they do food out there until 11.00 pm.
Back to our room for a well deserved sleep