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A rushed day in downtown Colombo, but a relaxed evening as w


View Nolan's Eleven Heaven meetups & Meet my TravBuddy friends - Rhea (rheagirl) & Meet my TravBuddy friends - Cathy (cookiecandy22) & Sri Lanka TravBuddy trip November 2014 on NT01's travel map.

large_1840343_14174837285665.jpgwith Devi, Kanak and Hima at Bandanaraike International Airport (CMB)After the departure from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, we all got into our individual seat assignments. Hali had booked the front row (row 8) of economy, and not far behind were Devi, Hima and Kanak. Masayo and I had booked two seats beside each other in row 44, and there were no seatmates to bother. Rhea and Anne were seated a few rows ahead. The flight was relatively pleasant, and in less than 4 hours we had landed in Colombo's Bandarainake International Airport. So a whole squad of travelers (8 in total - Nolan, Masayo, Rhea, Anne, Hali, Kanak, Hima and Devi) were there to meet with Jon (who was arriving later in the afternoon) and Forrest (who had arrived way much earlier than we thought) and heading towards immigration.

Alas, the exit out into the city took longer than expected.large_1840343_1417483728577.jpg The immigration computers "hanged", and everyone was left standing in line for about 30 minutes before anything happened. The immigration officers couldn't do much but shake their heads as they had to wait for the system to be back up. Even though we had split the group into two, both areas were not moving. When they finally did, we hurried down to get our luggage which had surely been waiting for us long enough. And then more waits - getting the prepaid SIM cards for our smartphones and portable wifi hotspots, plus exchanging money. Someone even had left his card on the ATM machine that we had to call security to have the owner paged. Finally, when we were able to leave the baggage claim area, Forrest had long been gone. In any case, Hali and the others who were staying at another place decided to take a cab while me, Masayo, Anne and Rhea took the aircon bus.large_1840343_14174837297530.jpg120 LKR (Sri Lankan rupees) only! Less than $1Funny thing about this aircon bus what that Jon was disparaging us from taking it because he had read so many negative reviews about it. In the end, it was a aircon mini-bus and we were able to leave just a few minutes after we had boarded - being last to board though meant that we were seated in the last row. And we just paid 120 LKR - less than $1 which was the cheapest aircon bus ride we took for the duration of this trip!

The bus ride was a pleasant one, it didn't take as long as we had expected - except that its terminus was at the city bus terminal where all the older red Leyland buses were going through. We got off and it took more than 20 minutes for us to decide how to get to the hotel - I would have wanted to walk, but it was too hot and we were being harrassed by the tuktuk touts.large_1840343_14174837322500.jpgCentral Bus Terminal, ColomboFinally we relented and took 2 tuktuks after Anne had haggled down the price to 200 LKR (which was still expensive in her opinion). True enough it was more than a kilometer away but without luggage in tow, we could have easily walked it. Not to mention the 120 LKR for a long trip in an aircon bus from the airport to downtown.

Finally we got into the hotel and it was generally OK - and Forrest had been waiting for us for quite some time, although we had to call him to come down from the third floor. The room we got had a terrace view, was quite big, and so it was considerably a reasonable decision to book the hotel which happened to be right beside where we had our dinner meetup with Connie and Yeshan.

After checking in we started looking for food but being a Sunday, many shops and stores were closed.large_1840343_14174837298793.jpg So we settled for the small eatery at the side of the hotel, for our first taste of local food. That started a five day menu of lots of curry chicken and rice, or chicken fried rice.

After lunch we decided to walk around the nearby area but it hardly had any activity being a Sunday, that it almost looked like a ghost section of the city. We contacted Yeshan and Connie and informed them that we will be meeting them later in the evening after the five of us would have gone to Catholic mass at 6PM in an area which happened to be just a few minutes away from where they lived.

Getting to the church was a challenge because most Sri Lankans are Buddhist or Tamil and to them, churches are all alike. We were looking for St. Mary's Church - Forrest had it noted down on Google maps on his smartphone, but the tuktuk driver misunderstood and even got scolded by the police for stopping in the middle of the road while trying to find his way to the church (which was not the one I mentioned).large_1840343_14174837365306.jpgSt. Mary's Church, Bambalapitiya 66, Lauries Rd, Colombo, Sri Lanka Phone:+94 11 2 588745Finally I step in and insist that the church is in Bambalapitiya, which was a good 15 minute ride south. Good thing we were able to make it in time for the 6PM mass, something which I wanted Masayo to experience which she later on said she found interesting.

After mass I contacted Yeshan and they picked us up in their car, however Forrest and Anne were more adventurous and wanted to ride the tuktuk back to the dinner venue (we were also full in the car). When we got to the old hospital (which was converted into a row of restaurants and stores), Hali, Kanak, Hima and Devi were there to meet us.

This time it was Jon who was not feeling well as he had pain in his ear. So we would taunt him from down below (he was at a high floor at the Hilton Colombo) and pester him to come and join us.large_1840343_14174837386587.jpgla fiesta Mexican restaurant at Old Dutch Hospital, ColomboUnfortunately he really was sick so we just had to agree to meet early in the morning at the train station for our ride to Kandy [Kandy-travel-guide-1311007].

So we had a good dinner with Connie and Yeshan at the Mexican restaurant in the old hospital, then had a nightcap at the Heladiv Tea place just a few stores away. Our hotel was just right beside the area so we had no problems going home while Hali and the rest had to hail tuktuks for their ride back.

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Posted by NT01 17:00 Archived in Sri Lanka

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