Where to begin... this was *supposed* to be my MARS (mandatory absence for relief from stress) since I've been working in Kabul, Afghanistan - which is, indeed, a stressful place from which one really does need relief.
Sri Lanka isn't all that far from Afghanistan, and the airfare was pretty reasonable, I'd heard the shopping was good, it isn't a conservative Muslim country where women's movements are restricted (like Kabul) so I thought... why not? Ha!
An evil travel agent got annoyed with me about credit card versus cash payment, and in a fit of anger, canceled all my flights to/from Colombo. So there I was in Dubai (where the UN flight leaves us), with no connecting flight. In the end, all I could get was a ticket on Qatar Airlines (!) which entailed an 11-hour layover in Doha airport, before getting a connecting flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka.
I was exhausted upon arrival, having spent the past 30 hours on 3 flights in a variety of airports. TOok a nap, got up, showered and was ready to hit the malls. But no... turns out it was Sinhalese New Years Eve, so all the shops were closed. Of course, the next day was Sinhalese New Years Day, and the shops would *still* be closed. Ok, I decide to go have a nice, cold beer and come up with a Plan B. Off to the bar (very empty) where I ask for a beer. This earns me an unpleasant glare from the waiter, who informs me that in honor of Sinhalese New Year, the sale and consumption of alcohol is strictly prohibited. Great. No shopping, no beer, no wine with dinner.
I know - I'll get a much needed hair cut! You guessed it... the beauty parlor was, of course, closed as well. By now I'm thinking that Kabul is more fun than Colombo.
OK, shake it off - I'mm off to Bentota the next day for a week of beach, sun, shopping, good food, etc. I purposely checked the weather and traveled during the dry season (monsoon season starts end of May). No one told Mother Nature, as it rained every day I was there. OK, but still, it was hot and humid and near the sea, right?
I get to the hotel (see the photos) and am favorably impressed, until I hear a faint rumbling which grows steadily louder, and then a *very* loud whistle blows, announcing the arrival of the local train, which passes right thru the middle of the hotel's back lawn!! Naturally, my room overlooked the tracks, so I could be really close.
As I spoke with the manager about hte possibility of moving to a room a little further away from the tracks, I heard a wet plop noise - when I looked in the direction of the noise, I saw a 3-ft snake slithering across the floor. The manager told me not to worry, that it was a rat-eating snake. Ah - most reassuring.
I'm sure Sri Lanka is a lovely place, though I didn't get to see that side... the days following Sinhalese New Years were Full Moon, Tamil New Years, Good Friday and Easter Sunday - all of which were honored by closed shops and lack of alcohol.
So, now I am back in Kabul and relieved, heaven help me! Next MARS, It hink I'll try Bali.....