Saturday, November 5, 2011

Trip to Sri Lanka , The Pearl of the Indian Ocean

Thanking ....
Mrs&Mr Zukkur for all the help and support provided for inland transport and accommodation in Sri Lanka.

Plan :
Oct 20,2011 - Departing Bangalore - TUTICORIN EXP - 2100Hrs.
Oct 21,2011 - Arriving Tuticorin - 1100Hrs.
Oct 21,2011 - Departing India - Check-in Flemingo Liners - 1400Hrs.
Oct 22,2011 - Arriving Sri Lanka - Check out Flemingo Liners - 800Hrs.

Oct 29,2011 - Departing Sri Lanka - Sri Lankan Airlines - 1835Hrs.
Oct 29,2011 - Arriving India, Bangalore - 1955Hrs.

Our Travel:
IRCTC - Indian Railways .
Star Destinations India - Flemingo Liners Pvt. Ltd
SriLankan Airlines

Our Stay:
Bell Hotel Tuticorin, 23 South, Tuticorin 628 001, India.
Kassapa Lions Rock ,Digampathaha ,Kimbissa, Sigiriya, Sri Lanka.
Glendower Hotel ,5 Grand Hotel Rd, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka.
Ruhunu Safari Village, Gurugoda, Yala, Sri Lanka .
Sunils Beach Hotel,Galle Road,Narigama, Hikkaduwa 82020, Sri Lanka.
Hotel Renuka ,328 Galle Road,Colombo 3, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Shivaram's family and we decided to go for a week long trip to Sri Lanka about 4 months back. After a lot of discussion on the dates, we zeroed in on the Diwali week due to the long festival holidays. Our friend Mr. Zukkur from Sri Lanka helped us in organizing the itinerary and advised us on the places of visit. To add to the excitement we looked into the possibility of taking a ship to Colombo. Our wish was granted - Flemingo liner services – “Scotia Prince” plying from Tuticorin to Colombo.

Day 1 - 20 Oct: 2100Hrs - Boarded the Pearl City Express from Bangalore to Tuticorin .


Day 2 - 21Oct: Reached Tuticorin the at about 1100Hrs. Took a taxi to bell hotel where we had booked our halt for freshening up.We checked into Bell hotel for a couple of hours to freshen up before leaving for the port. The place was good. People were very nice and food was great. The same taxi guy picked us up and took to the port. Scheduled check in was about at about 1400Hrs. The Tuticorin Port is 12 kms from the railway station. Orange gate was the one for passengers. The check in process in the port was slow and severe with the passport checked and baggage's scanned a number of times. Finally we got into the ship at about 1500Hrs .


It was a new and exciting experience for all of us to go on a cruise. The ship had good facilities including a casino and bar. The rooms were well maintained and we had a good time in the evening on the deck enjoying the sailing. Welcome drink and Complimentary snacks were provided as we checked in the reception of the ship. The ship started sailing at 1800Hrs. Initially due to the sea motion we felt a sort of instability and later on it was fine. Duty free and casino starts after sailing 12 nautical miles called International waters.

Once we were in international waters , had couple of drinks and moved on for dinner. The food was fine. We returned back to bar and continued our drinks waiting for the clock to tick12 as it was my birthday next day. Raised few toasts on my birthday and we all retired to our bunkers. We had opted for deluxe rooms with toilet and shower. The rooms were really nice.

Day 3 - 22Oct: Breakfast was served in the ship. We reached the Colombo Port at about 800Hrs.But the emigration and clearance was slow and tiring It was about 1100Hrs by the time we came out.

The vehicle arranged by our friend Mr Zukkur was waiting for us with pluck cards mentioning our names.

 Jagath was our pilot for the trip. We all were so hungry that it was unanimous thought to fill in our tummies. We converted few USD to LKR. Went to McDonald's and had a great brunch. From here we set our course to Sigiriya, our first place of visit, which was about 170kms from Colombo.

Our accommodation was booked in Kassappa Lion Rocks. The resort was good, though we had some difficulty locating it as there were no signboards. There was a complimentary cake from the hotel as it was my B'day. We celebrated again in the night with lot of Deviled Chickent. Couple of Tripple distled arrack added the icing to the cake.


Day 4 - 23 Oct : We woke up quite late and it was raining heavily. The plan was to go to the Sigiriya rock in the morning. Due to rains  we cancelled the trip to the rock and headed to the Dambulla temples. These temples date back to 1st Century BC. There are five caves here and they house some of the most amazing Buddha statues. We spent about a couple of hours in the caves and headed to our next destination – Nuwara Eliya.

Nuwara Eliya is a hill station and was a 100km drive from Dambulla. We had booked our stay in Hotel Glendower. The hotel was really nice and well maintained. The place was also really beautiful with greenery and the typical hill station views. It was almost 2200Hrs by the time we reached our hotel and hit the bed straight away as it was a long drive  uphill.
visit – The tea factory ( Pedro Estate) and Ambewela Farms. The tea factory was closed by the time we reached and hence Day 5 - 24Oct : We went to the lake side and went for boating. The boating was quite enjoyable and then the kids went for horse riding. After that we ventured in to the Nuwara Eliya local market There were some really good stuff priced cheaply, we did not purchase much though. It was raining quite heavily and the fog was too dense. Without wasting any more time we set out to the next places of we went to the farms directly. We had to walk quite a distance from where we parked our car to the cow shed. As the place was covered with mist and it was really cold. Our walk through the farm was really enjoyable. They were breeding cows and goats imported from Netherlands and it was an interesting experience to see the animals being fed and processing of milk. That was the last stop for the day and we headed back to our hotel to relax.

Day 6 - 25 Oct: We set out early at about 8am as we had to visit the tea factory that was open only between 800Hrs- 1000Hrs. We got to see how the leaves are plucked, dried, cut and processed to make tea leaf / powder. Spent some time in the tea plantation, had some tea they served us and headed to our next destination – Yala. Nuwara Eliya to Yala was again a long drive of about 200kms. Our accommodation in Yala was inside the forest and this was perhaps the best place of our visit. Our stay was at Ruhunu Safari village. The resort  was small and well maintained. We were the only guests there and that made it all the more exciting. The best thing about this place was the whole set up itself. A hotel inside the forest and beside a beach…! We normally don’t imagine a forest and beach together and this was exactly that. However the sea here was quite rough and won’t really qualify for a holiday type beach. Nonetheless, it was exciting to have a whole beach to yourself…! We spent the evening in the beach and went back to our rooms once it was dark. The food here was very good as well even though the options were limited.Day 7 - 26Oct : Today was the safari to Yala National Park and we started early at 500Hrs. We saw and captured some outstanding pictures of sunrise at the beach. The safari lasted for about 3hrs and it was an amazing experience. The wild life was really active in the morning and we got to see most of the animals  in the forest except the ever elusive wild cat. Apparently Yala has the highest density of leopards in Asia.We were not lucky enough. Nevertheless, it was nice seeing Peacocks in their full bloom, Land monitors, Crocodiles lurking around the corner of swamps, Jackals, Elephants, Wild Hens, Wild Rabbits and all the wild life in full glory. We were back in the resort by about 1000hrs. Had breakfast and checked out to our next destination – Hikkaduwa.

Hikkaduwa was another 150kms from Yala. We reached by around 1500Hrs. (On the way we stopped near a small waterfall.) We were staying at Sunil’s Beach hotel, the worst place of stay during our visit. It seemed more like a senior citizens cottage with all the waiters and most of the guests being well above 60. The rooms were not great, food was bad and the pool was dirty. The only good thing about this place was the beach, where we spent most of the evening. For dinner, we were in no mood to eat from the same place and so ventured out to find an eat out and ended up in a small restaurant where they served some amazing chicken and paneer “rotty”. Back to the hotel and end of the day .


morning, after having breakfast it was decided not to continue our stay there and started to Colombo. Day 8 - 27Oct : The original plan was to stay in Hikkaduwa for 2 nights and then check out to Colombo. That Fortunately rooms were available in Colombo a day in advance. We started at about 110Hrs.On the way we visited the sea turtle hatchery. It was quite informative. We purchased some souvenirs and reached Colombo by 1500Hrs. We had booked our accommodation in Renuka Hotel. It was a good one, typically serving the corporate visitors we suppose. That evening we walked few streets in the city and had dinner in a small joint.

really cheap and you get good branded stuff. We shopped till evening and went for RA.One that night. Day 9 - 28Oct: The next morning we set out for shopping. Colombo is a great place to shop for clothes as its Probably the worst disaster after Sunil’s Beach Hotel was RA.One during our trip. Bad movie.

Day 10 - 29Oct: This being the last day of our trip, we spent the day relaxing and packing. The flight was at 1800Hrs and we started to the airport by 1500Hrs.

you can make the most of it only if at least a week is spent there.It felt like a long trip when we started off, but in the end it was over really quick and we were back in Bangalore on 29th night. We had a great time in Sri Lanka and it was an enriching experience to get a peek into their culture and life. We would definitely recommend a holiday to Sri Lanka to anybody, but

Thanking again Mrs.& Mr. Zukur for helping to organize such a wonderful trip. We would have been lost without their immense help in booking accommodation and without the car that you provided us with..!!

Photographers :  Brinda Shivaram, Meera Menon and Radhish Kurup