Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Indian Ocean 2012

Sri Lanka: a second bite of the cherry

I got up early, but in fact had completed most of the preparations for departure the previous evening. I handed my room key in at Reception and it was suggested that I still had time for a quick breakfast. Checking my watch and finding that it was only 0635, I decided to go for it. I was surprised to bump into Phil on his way to the restaurant - of course I shouldn't have been, as he was booked on the sailing after mine. I joined him for a quick bowl of cereal, before deciding that I really must make my way to the arrivals / departures pavilion.

It turned out that I was the only passenger on the 0700 sailing, so they decided to go five minutes early. All too soon, I found myself back at Malé Airport, where I checked in and made my way to the rather smart Business Class lounge. After my lunchtime experiences at the Full Moon, I was a little dismayed when a noisy group of six Chinese men arrived and excitedly played cards. I saw the aircraft arriving and soon enough, it was time to board.  
  ABOVE: Business Class lounge at MLE

(Link to flight log in side panel)

It was another delightfully easy arrivals experience at CMB: I walked straight up to passport control, scarcely even glancing at the signage, being quite the expert now.   Again without so much as a question, I was on my way to the baggage hall, to find that my case was in the first batch to arrive.

  I easily met the driver sent by The Fortress, who was one of only three 'meeters & greeters' this time around! I was soon on my way for the long drive to Koggala on the island's south coast.

It started with the usual crazy ride into Colombo, then continued past the Parliament building to the current starting point of the E1 Southern Expressway, a new, partly-complete tolled highway. What a contrast! The expressway reminded me of old black & white photographs of Britain's first motorways, almost devoid of traffic. A final short run along the coast to Koggala brought me to the hugely impressive-looking Fortress hotel.
ABOVE: The Southern Expressway  
BELOW: The huge front door of The Fortress    The arrival procedure was quite something: the security guard looking after the huge front door rang a large bell, which brought boys running from all directions to offer a cold towel and welcome drink, and to relieve me of my luggage. I sat in the open lobby area for about ten minutes until my Beach Room (representing a double upgrade!) was ready.   BELOW: Singapore Noodles for my late lunch 

As soon as I had settled into my new accommodation, my first priority was to have a late lunch of very spicy Singapore Noodles, washed down with a refreshing local beer, in the hotel's appropriately named Pepper restaurant. I had my first encounter with the fearless and inquisitive little squirrels that constantly made attempted invasions, looking for food, during daylight hours.

Once my stomach had been filled, I had a look around the property and then relaxed for what remained of the afternoon, making use of my own little balcony and retreating indoors if the heat became too much. I had a light dinner back at Pepper; I didn't feel so hungry after such a late lunch.