Our (nearly) last stop in Sri Lanka was the tiny little town of Bentota, midway between Galle & Colombo, where finally we had a pretty good beach experience. Our hotel – Vivanta by Taj – was at the end of a small road and then up on a bit of a hill. The result was that the pool and all that had nice views over the beach but, if you wanted to, you could go down to a big, wide, beautiful beach. Unlike further south where we’d been the water here was swimmable without too much danger. So Mark & I both spent a bit of time, finally, in the Indian Ocean.
Otherwise, besides pool and beach, this was a quiet stop. We discovered two nice restaurants just outside the hotel grounds which is always a plus; the food is better than what you’ll get at the hotel and significantly cheaper. Sadly, though, we were there during the full moon. Here’s whats weird about that: in Sri Lanka, full moon days are public holidays known as “Poya.” Shops are closed, which is fine. Horrifically, though, the sale of alcohol is prohibited, even in restaurants. Fortunately we knew about this in advance and had gone into town the day before to buy some wine and then ordered room service in a room that was big enough it had a sitting/eating area. With advance planning like that it sure seems as though Mark & I could survive in the wilderness if we needed to.
After three days in Bentota, then, we hired a car to drive us up to an airport hotel near Colombo for a very early flight the next day to the Maldives. Two things about that stand out. First, we asked at the hotel about hiring a car; they quoted us a price of $110 USD. That was insane, well more than twice what we’d paid for any other transfer in Sri Lanka and this was a pretty short drive. I went out of the hotel, then, to hire our own car and the first guy quoted a price of about $50 as his first (high) offer. It pissed us off to have the hotel try to rip us off like that.
And then when we made it up to the airport hotel they’d upgraded us to a suite which was as big and nice as nearly any room we’ve had in a few years. Strange to have that experience at an airport hotel. Finally, let me add how much we loved Sri Lanka, just a real paradise. Beaches, highlands, culture – we saw it all in our three weeks here. We have this sense that in a couple of years Sri Lanka will be a major tourist destination, so get here fast before it changes too much!