My next destination is… Sri Lanka
As you might have seen on any of my social media channels, I’m already at my next destination, Sri Lanka! I left home on my birthday (29 April) and got here a solid 34 hours later. First I had to take a train from Antwerp to Brussels and then to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. From there I flew to Doha, and after a long layover, I flew to Colombo.
Why Sri Lanka?
Last year I also took a 3-week vacation and celebrated my birthday in Bali with my family. Looking back, I spend a lot of money on that trip, and the first hotel was located in one of the busiest areas in Bali, Kuta. Needless to say that I did not want to repeat this for obvious reasons.
My dad took me to South-East Asia for the first time back in 2011. I immediately fell in love with the continent, the people, the culture and the food! We visited Borneo and Malaysia. These are two countries that I want to visit again in the future because there is so much to see.
I will stop beating around the bush and tell you why I picked Sri Lanka. Because of the air miles. Say what? I was sitting on a significant number of American Airlines miles that I wanted to spend. The sweet spot on the redemption chart of AA is the Indian sub-continent. They will “only” charge you 62.500 miles for a one-way ticket in first class from Europe to Sri Lanka. So I booked flights on Qatar Airways to get me there, and I’ll be flying back On Etihad on their majestic A380 in first class.
The international airport of Bandaranaike was way smaller than I expected it to be. No big terminal building where planes queue up to get to the gate. Nope, the plane parked itself on the tarmac, and all business class passengers were deboarded first via stairs and then onto a bus. Within a couple of minutes, I was filling out the immigration form and was waiting to get my passport stamped. The printed copy of my visa approval wasn’t even required. No questions asked as the immigration officer was too busy talking on his mobile phone.
After immigration, I went to pick up my backpack and proceeded to the arrivals hall. I got a text message on my phone with some advertising about local sim cards. But first I needed to get some local currency. So I exchanged some Euro for Sri Lankan Rupee. Then I was able to purchase a data sim card for 1300 Rupees (about 8 Euro). The card came with 9 GB of data on it which should be plenty for three weeks!
In the corner of my eye, I had already noticed a man waving a sign with my name on it. As soon as I introduced myself, I got a big smile. He was the driver of the Sundaras Resort in Dambulla. He went to pick up his car, and we set off towards Dambulla. “Sir, it will be a 3,5-hour drive, so we have a long journey ahead”, great I had been on my way for over a day and now got to spend some more time with my butt on a seat haha. I wasn’t bothered by it too much; it gave me time to take in the surroundings.
Well, it was an exciting drive as the driver explained his culture, the different religions and the history of his country. So far I stayed in Dambulla for two days to get acclimatised to the hot weather. Coming from Europe, it’s a bit of a shock! Not that I mind high temperatures and humidity, but your body needs some time to adjust. The people over at the Sundaras Resort were very welcoming. I had a real good time there! More about my stay in Dambulla in my next post which should be online in a couple of days.
I’m currently staying in Sigiriya for three days. Afterwards, I will go to Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Nallathanniya and finally Ella. I have no idea yet on how I will get to the different places, but as the local people are very helpful, I am sure I won’t have any problems finding transportation. All of my stays been booked through Booking.com, it’s a great tool to find decent and cheap accommodation. If you want to earn 15 Euro in credits on the website, please book your next stay using my referral link. That way we can both earn a little extra for our next trip 🙂
Have you ever visited Sri Lanka? What was your impression? What did you like most or what did you dislike? Please feel free to leave a comment; all tips are welcome!