Saturday, September 2, 2017

Journey to Sri Lanka








Galle Lighthouse and mosque from a rooftop restaurant.


After taking care of some dental and medical tourism treatments at the Bumrungrad Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand, I took the Sky Train and the Airport sky train out to the Bangkok Airport on August 30, 2017.  More about my medical treatments after I return from Sri Lanka.

My Malaysian Air flight left at 6:40pm and cost just $113 for two flights---stopover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia---totaling over 3 1/2 hours.  These locally purchased flights are so much cheaper than thouse found in the US.

In advance of the flight, I went online to get my Sri Lanka visa for $35.  I arrived just about midnight and quickly passed through Immigration and Customs, found an ATM to get some Sri Lanka rupees---151 rupees to $1USD--got the airport wifi and contacted the Saffron Airport Hotel driver with instructions on where to be picked up.  Since I arrived after dark, I had booked this hotel on line through Trip Advisor since it looked clean, cheap and was close to the airport.

Among the sea of people, and taxi drivers hawking for rides, I spotted a guy coming right at me who said he was from Saffron Airport Hotel.  Anthony dropped me off at my bungalow and said we would do the paperwork the following morning.  The place looked new and I fell asleep quickly.


The following morning they provided breakfast and they told me that I was their 2nd customer in this new place.  No wonder it was so clean.  Total cost for this clean room, hot water, TV, A/C was $28 which included picking me up and dropping me off at the airport, and breakfast.



I got on the Airport Express bus---then waited until all the seats were taken before we left for a quick ride downtown.  It took twice as long getting  5 more miles to the bus station than it did for the 20 mile expressway.  The cost was just over $1.



Waiting to fill up with customers.


Traffic jam in downtown Colombo.


Bus station arrival.


From the bus station, I just walked about 200 yards until I found the train station.  Thanks to the man on www.seat61.com  , I quickly figured out how to get the 10:30am train to Galle, some 2 1/2 hours away along the scenic coastline.


There were no reserved seats on this 2nd and 3rd class train so everyone piled in but the seats were already taken by people who got on the first stop at Maradana.  I ended up standing for most of the trip until I found a place to sit at the end of the carriage in the doorway.  Great ocean and village views all the way down.  I forgot to mention that it is very hot and humid here and that these trains had no A/C--just fans and open windows.  My Seat61 Sri Lanka guide and my Lonely Planet (LP) guide book became limp from sucking up the moisture from the air.


Scenery along the way to Galle.




Galle train Depot where the engine reverses ends to travel on to Matara.



I used the LP to locate the Pedlar's Inn Hostel.  They ran out of the $10 dorm beds so I settled for the $15 one that was on the top floor which ended up being a private room for me since no one else bunked there.

It was now time to explore Galle.


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