Sri Lanka - Beach, Sun, Relaxing - Not Much Else

Trip Start Mar 29, 2007
Trip End Sep 30, 2009

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I've heard great things about Sri Lanka and given that it's only a 2 hour direct flight from Hyderabad, Tanya and I decided to try and do a quick weekend trip down there for some rest and relaxation.  Honestly 2 days isn't really enough time to do Sri Lanka justice as there are loads of things to see and do (elephant orphanage, beaches, mountain tea plantations, historic monuments, etc.) we decided to just take this trip just to hit the beach and enjoy some nice time on the water drinking fruity rum drinks.  We booked a Friday noon departure with a Monday morning return...that would give us 2 and a half full days on the beach.  There are basically two major beach destinations in the south of Sri Lanka...Bentota and Galle.  We chose Bentota just because it's a bit closer to Colombo (where the airport is) and because there are some good hotel choices in Bentota as well.  I gave Tanya the task of choosing the hotel which was a mistake...never give a Libra a task to chose one item between we (read: I) eventually decided on the Wunderbar hotel which had good reviews and the price was right.  Our flight on Sri Lankan air was supposed to leave at 11:30 in the afternoon on Friday...of course once we check-in they tell us it's now closer to 2:00 as the incoming flight is late due to bad weather in Colombo.  We finally board the flight and take off and the journey was pretty uneventful...until we got close to Colombo.  The pilot told us there was still a lot of bad weather and we needed to circle for a while.  He finally went in for a landing and aborted at the last minute because he couldn't see the runway.  We tried to land three times and each time the pilot aborted.  So now you've got a plane full of passengers who are starting to wonder how much fuel we have left and the pilot announces we have to fly back to India to land and refuel.  Great...back to India.  Fortunately there is an airport in south India that is only a 20 minute flight from Colombo so we land, refuel and sit for 30 minutes when the weather finally clears in Colombo and we head back.  We eventually touch down in Colombo around 6PM, clear immigration, collect our luggage and meet our very patient driver from the Wunderbar hotel.  The drive is to Wunderbar is about 2 hours in normal traffic...but we're in rush-hour now and it's still raining so it's going to be more like 3.  First impressions of Sri Lanka...surprisingly good.  The airport was very, very modern; the duty free was better than most India duty free stores;  the cars are more modern;  the road are cleaner and modern;  and everything seemed to be a bit more orderly than India overall.  So after 3 hours of driving through the dark, rainy weather we reach Wunderbar.  The owner "Chan" is there to great us and despite our late arrival, he has made sure the kitchen stayed open so we could have a late dinner.  Dinner was good and there were some local guys in the restaurant doing an information music-jam session.  Chan took us to our room without a formal check-in because he could tell we were exhausted.   I splurged for the deluxe room (overlooking pool) and it was great...especially considering the price.  Huge modern bathroom, high ceilings, ocean views on our huge balcony...everything one could expect.  We pretty much passed out given the ordeal just to get to the hotel.

The next morning we finally had a look around and could not have been happier.  The hotel is small but clean and nice.  The restaurant pavilion is huge and gives diners ocean views.  Our daily hotel rate included breakfast and dinner and we never had a bad meal while we were there.  After breakfast we packed a little beach bag and headed out to the beach.  But before that we were asked if we wanted to visit the turtle hatchery on the hotel premises.  Well of course we do!  The hotel also houses a turtle sanctuary where they help rehabilitate sick or injured turtles...and also help raise new turtle hatch-lings until the are big enough to survive on their own.  In the sanctuary they have some huge turtles...a couple could easily take your finger off.  We played with the turtles for a bit, take a couple pictures and then head back down the short pathway to the beach.  One of the Wunderbar hotel guys took a liking to Tanya and helped us pull a couple chairs and mats to the beach and even climbed up a 50 foot tall coconut tree to get Tanya some fresh coconut water.  The beach was fairly nice and the water was perfect.  Lot's of huge waves to body surf or boogey board on...and very few people trying to sell you crap (like there was in Goa).  We spend the entire day on the beach returning only for lunch.  Brandon got very, very sunburned and was pretty much bright red for the rest of the time in Sri Lanka.

Sunday is our last day and it was pretty much a carbon copy of the previous day.  We met a couple really cool German couples and hung out with them the last day and met up for dinner that evening at the hotel restaurant.  We stayed up late chatting with them and exchanging info so we could stay in touch.

Monday morning was checkout day and we were up at the crack of dawn to head back to the airport in Colombo.  Even though we were only in Sri Lanka for less than 72 hours, given it's proximity to Hyderabad and beautiful beaches...I'll be back.  Enjoy the pics.
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