On October 11th we left Vietnam and flew from Hanoi to Kuala Lumpur and then to Colombo the next day. The disadvantage of booking flights in advance is that it’s hard to predict on beforehand where you’ll be at that time. Of course that doesn’t weigh up to the BIG advantage of getting the cheapest tickets. So we pre-booked our flight from Kuala Lumpur to Colombo, Sri Lanka and had to get to KL to catch our flight there.
We decided to split the journey into two days to make it a bit easier for Jace and for ourselves. Luckily last time we were in KL we discovered a great hotel called EV World Hotel Enstek, which is pretty close to the airport and in a nice area with lots of places to eat. The perfect place for a layover.
So we spend one night there and met a cool Czech guy now living in Australia who was traveling alone with his two year old daughter. He was on his way to Nepal to stay in an ashram with his Swedish wife, who was already there. Jace and his daughter Ingrid hit it off strait away and had a great time playing together. We had dinner together and he talked about how he and his wife used to travel the world by sailboat. It’s so cool and inspiring to meet people like him on the way!
Then on October 12th we had our flight with AirAsia to Sri Lanka. Two days of flying in a row are pretty rough. Not so much because of the flights themselves, but the packing, getting to the airport and waiting in the airport are tiring. We’re lucky all the traveling made all three of us a lot more flexible. In the beginning it took Jace about two days to settle, now he doesn’t need any time and just sleeps wherever we put his little Nomad travel tent, or… in the train, on the bus, in the airplane and even in the jeep during a safari 😉
At Colombo airport we met Alena, a German student who was doing her first Asia trip. She had some trouble getting money at the ATM so we offered to share our taxi so she could get to Negombo and try one of the ATM’s there. Turned out she was planning to go to the same hotel we were so it worked out really well. The Marine Tourist Guest House in Negombo was disappointing to say the least (we’ll write some more about that in another post), so when Alena said she would leave Negombo the day after we decided to join her. We discussed locations and since Anuradhapura could be easily reached by train that seemed like a pretty good option.
The next morning we had to rush to get to the train station in time and we had had no time to look for a hotel at our next destination. That was a mistake we’ll try to avoid in the future! The train ride in third class was a lot of fun. The train went really slow and we had plenty of time to take pictures and enjoy the scenery. And everybody on the train was very interested in those weird foreigners with the red haired little boy. We got a lot of attention 🙂
The hotel owner in Negombo had suggested we take a train to Puttalam and from there private transport. Great idea, but finding transport turned out a lot more difficult than we thought. Once we got to Puttalam station we got assaulted by tuktuk drivers. Because we had so much luggage we actually had to take two tuktuks with the four of us. They drove us everywhere but where we wanted to go, which was extremely frustrating. We wanted to go to the bus station to find a minibus to take us to Anuradhapura, but they kept giving us ridiculously high prices and kept insisting that it was better to go by tuktuk…. three hours with and already very tired little boy. We didn’t agree. Finally we managed to get the price down to 7000 rupees. Still too much, but all we wanted was to get on the road.
As mentioned we didn’t book an hotel in Anuradhapura upfront. Alena knew the name of a guest house so we asked the minibus driver to drop us off there. Unfortunately it turned out to be a bit too expensive. So while Mau and Jace waited at a hotel terrace with a drink and the iPad, Alena and I went out to scout for a more affordable place to stay. After we’d been to one or two places it started to rain. Luckily we brought our ponchos. After checking out yet another too expensive place it really started to pour and there was thunder and lightning as well. So we waited out the thunderstorm in the lobby of a very fancy hotel where we unsuccessfully used the incredibly slow internet to find a place to stay.
When the rain slowed a bit we decided to continue our search. I was getting a bit desperate. It was getting dark and we had no place to stay. This was exactly why I always want to book ahead! I thought that Mau had probably already decided to take a room at the hotel where he was waiting with Jace, and since it was getting dark we figured we’d try just one more place before heading back. We had to wade through a small river to get there. Later we saw a snake on the road, luckily we didn’t see it before! It didn’t look very promising from the outside and even less from the inside. There was water leaking from the ceiling and Alena and I both had a funny feeling about it. We almost turned around and left, but then one guy that was there finally managed to get his phone working and he called a friend to see if he had any rooms available. Apparently this was a good and affordable place to stay. And… even better, he could take us there in his car! No more walking in the rain, yay! We insisted that we had to get back to the other hotel first to collect Mau and Jace and all our bags (and to see if Mau hadn’t taken a room yet).
In the end we were so lucky we met this guy. His friend’s hotel, Bevary Holiday Home, was really nice and we got a very good deal on the price. Both our good Samaritan and the owner of the hotel restored our faith in the Sri Lankan people!