Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Indian Ocean 2012

Boys will be boys

   ( ... and as we shall see, sometimes girls as well! )

The calendar had moved into a new month and, almost unbelievably, the trip had slipped into its third week. Thoroughly rested after one of the most comfortable nights ever, I had a refreshing shower and then an à la carte breakfast of cornflakes followed by poached eggs with bacon, accompanied by mixed brown and white toast served with butter and home-made jam. Quite simply, it was heavenly.

I was about to go back to my room, but noticed staff gathering on the verandah. I had also been hearing the sound of drums in the distance. Somebody told me that local schoolchildren were holding a parade and that it was due to pass shortly. Suddenly I understood why the VP had told me the day before to be sure to bring my camera to breakfast! The colourful parade slowly passed by and indeed offered plenty of photo opportunities. One memorable moment occurred when I was lining up a shot of what I assumed to be brightly dressed girls. This prompted a staff member to inform me that all the participants in the parade were boys, despite what it sometimes looked like. Can you imagine the fuss if a school in the UK encouraged young boys to dress up as girls and parade through the streets?

LEFT: These 'girls' are not what they seem!
RIGHT: Can somebody please let me know when this is over?

Once the parade had passed the hotel, I got myself organised and set off for another short walk, this time concentrating on streets that I had missed the previous day while walking the walls. There was some mild 'hassle factor' from a couple of local beggars, but it was still a nice walk and it allowed me to fill in the blanks in my coverage of Galle Fort. I ran into the school parade again at one point; a passing shower did little to dampen their spirits.

I vacated my room by 12 noon and, in a pattern repeating that of the previous day, had lunch in preparation for a 1330 departure. I was given a nicely-wrapped hand fan as a departure gift. It was quite a send-off: the VP, my butler and several other staff members turned out on the steps and waved as my car pulled away. It was another long drive back to Colombo, with much craziness ensuing once we had run out of completed highway. I finally realised where I was when we drove past the familiar territory of Galle Face Green, and soon thereafter I was being recognised and welcomed back to the Hilton.

I checked in at the lobby desk on this occasion but still got my welcome drink and a nice upgrade to a corner suite. I arranged my airport transfer and wake-up call for the following morning at the same time. The 8th floor corridor was stinking of stale tobacco smoke, but the suite itself was fine - a little faded, perhaps, but nice enough. However the air conditioning unit struggled to keep both rooms cool; the bedroom was at all times a few degrees warmer than the living room. I decided I couldn't fit in both a return walk to Galle Face Green and a massage, and I ended up plumping for the latter. I arranged it and then returned to the room to relax and shower. I had a very nice massage between 6 and 7pm, which once again was incredibly good value by international standards at approximately GBP18!

I revisited the Executive Lounge, which was unusually quiet on this occasion and where three out of the four guests were Scots. I then had a room service dinner and turned in early in view of yet another crack-of-dawn rise the next day.

Friday 01 Jun

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