Day 1, Wednesday 4 March
Bangkok to Colombo……..
Arriving at Suvarnabhumi Airport by taxi allows plenty of time for check in and all goes smoothly. However, at the back of my mind is still the issue of accommodation and Sri Lanka Immigration. I’ve had no reply from Kdu Hotel so I may have to make a last minute adjustment and possibly forfeit a night’s stay.
On the Sri Lanka flight UL 407 the Airbus A320 is about 90% full but the service is quite efficient with a meal served as soon as we reach cruising altitude. I would say the food is quite adequate under the circumstance of a shorter flight. Also an advantage is an improvement in the arrival time by about 30 minutes. After a short rest I wait as the A320 touches down at Colombo Airport known as Bandaranaike International Airport.
Immigration (Department of Corruption)……..
The situation with the Sri Lanka Visa is confusing at present. One of the reasons for choosing to visit here was the attraction of visa fee travel but the concession as far as I was aware was due to expire at the end of January. Accordingly I obtained a visa online only to be told that the concession had been reintroduced on the 1 March. I had wasted my money. On top of that, a corrupt immigration official did not explain this and made a play on the fact that we did not qualify for a tourist visa anyway in an effort to cause panic and secure a tip. It didn’t really work and he backed down when Katoon gave him some cake. I bright start, I thought.
Negombo not Colombo……..
The second of my concerns centred on our late arrival due to the flight time being changed. This time I had made a cock up since we’d arrived at Bandaranaike International Airport north of Colombo, not the smaller one to the south of the city. We’re now 50 kms from where I thought we would be. There’s no chance now of getting to the accommodation I booked. It’s another write-off.
The Agency Option……..
Mistakes already made, I enquire at the information desk and we’re directed to an agent. All I really need though is a bed for the night and pick things up in the morning. However, I get wrapped up in a plan to use the agency for a countywide tour that includes a car and driver with accommodation. My budget won’t run for the entire 2 weeks but by dovetailing what they offer with my existing bookings we seem to have a plan that will work. It is not how I planned to conduct this tour but it seems to save a lot of hassel and in the end I expect to get more out of our visit. Even if I go over budget in Sri Lanka my entire budget for the combined seven weeks should still be in credit.
Grand Holiday Home (Airport)……..
We’re introduced to our driver and taken to Grand Holiday Home in Negombo. He will be available from the 6th-13th March according to the plan. The room at Grand Holiday Home is spacious and comfortable enough and I will hardly miss the fridge this late at night. With the drama of the last few hours, I’m not expecting too much sleep. It’s gone midnight now local time but 2am in the morning Thai time.