After my trip to the Maldives I wanted to go to another country that was close and Sri Lanka had been recommended by a couple of female bloggers I followed. So I did some research, booked my flights and set off to explore a new country that I was unfamiliar with. I had a good time in Sri Lanka, the people were friendly, the countryside was beautiful and I stayed at 3 great hotels. The first one in Negombo a short distance outside of Columbo was the Dickman resort, beautifully decorated color themed boutique hotel that I absolutely loved. The room was so nice, the food was wonderful, fresh fruits and veggies, and coconut water and the waiters and other guests were friendly. It was like spending Christmas with a family of strangers. The pool area was small and quaint but well designed, and the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. Unfortunately I only spent one night there because my original flight from the Maldives was cancelled and I had to wait until the next morning to fly to Sri Lanka.
The next day I ventured out to the small town of Sigiriya, a 4 hour drive to climb the UNESCO site Sigiriya rock an ancient rock fortress (1200 steps to the top and then back down). This climb was slow because of the amount of people there (it was a public holiday) but it was hard at times because the stairs were narrow and steep. Realtalk, I almost turned back despite the steep tourist price of $30 but was pushed to go on after I saw all the older women making the trek – I couldn’t punk out 🤣I am happy I persevered and made it to the top because the view up there made up for my aching knees at the end of the climb.
The Flower Garden Eco Vilage hotel, another small boutique hotel located off the beaten path in Sigiriya required a bumpy ride down a very uneven and rocky mud path but it was nicely designed with the rooms and outdoor restaurant facing the pool. Even the driver who dropped me off was surprised when we pulled into the gate of the hotel grounds. The food was even more delicious than in Negombo with varieties of fresh fish to choose from, salads with three different types of veggies including beans, cucumbers, and grains, soups as a starter and ice cream for dessert. I love to eat so a three course meal made me very happy😍 and after the limited variety of food at my hotel in the Maldives I was in food heaven 😋
I had planned to drive the next day to explore Kandy another town 2 hours away to see the tea plantations and temples but my knees had objections. So I stayed local and instead took a 30 minute tuk tuk drive to the Dambulla cave temple which consists of 5 small cave temples with over 100 buddha statues. I won’t lie, I was miffed when I got to the first one and I relaized I had to climb up 100 + steps to get to the top when just the day before I had climbed Sigiriya Rock but I pushed through and made it to the top. The caves though small had beautiful painted scenes and well preseerved statues of different buddhas images. The second location housed the huge golden buddha statue and buddhist museum which I was too tired to explore.
My final day in Sri Lanka was spent in Negombo because I had an early morning flight to India and I needed to be close to the airport. The Grandeeza Luxury hotel was fabulous, beautifully decorated with Christmas trees, a beautiful pool area despite the trash in the ocean literally a couple of feet away😳, wonderful food and staff including a bell man named Terrance like my brother in law 🤔
If this was my entire experience then my time in Sri Lanka would have been great but it was not. I had a good time in the country but the airport annoyed and disappointed me😩. First I was randomly selected by an undercover police officer on my way out of the airport after I exited customs when I arrived. I was taken into a back room where my luggage was thoroughly searched, seams and everything. I was then told that the penalty for drug possession is death and made to sign a form saying I was informed of this policy…seriously? I can only guess that the dreds came across as suspicious to the airport police. A week later I had to transit back through Columbo on my way back to Egypt from India and again I was stopped on my way out of the airport after I cleared customs. The assistant superintendent of security asked for my passport and where I was staying. I told him that I was just in transit through the airport and on my way to check in for my next flight. He asked to search my bags despite the fact that I had just collected them from baggage claim…ok 😕. He and his colleague were obviously surprised that I was an American as they mentioned my passport several times…sigh. After he was satisfied that there was no contraband in my luggage he let me go and I continued on my way to the departure terminal.
The Columbo airport is small, and in need of repairs and an upgrade. I got into the check in area of the airport and was told I would need to wait another two hours before Etihad staff would be available to check me in. At this point people are sitting on the floor, and on their luggage because there were not enough seats to accommodate the crowd but I was thankful that the wifi worked. There were no announcements made inside the airport but luckily I had asked enough times about the Etihad flight that one of the flight attendants came over and told me where the flight was being checked in.
So I had a good time in Sri Lanka, the food was wonderful, the weather was nice, the people I encountered were friendly despite the many stares🤷🏾♀️. However the way I was treated at the airport left a bad taste in my mouth so I don’t know if I will ever return there. Time will tell.
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