We left the Conrad Maldives a few days ago with a heavy heart, and a lighter wallet (what a great way to meet the minimum spend on the Hilton Reserve Visa we just picked up! If you are going to this hotel and aren’t at least Hilton Honors Gold Status do yourself a favor and pick up the card from Citi – it comes with a $95 annual fee, but that’s like one breakfast for two people at this resort… plus it gets you an hour of happiness at Vilu where booze is plentiful, and free!
We took the early morning flight to Colombo, this was the only paid portion of our flights for this trip as I have booked us on Star Alliance using United Miles- when booked as a Roundtrip they allow you two Open Jaws and One Stopover – this means that our one flight award from United (80K in Coach) gets us the following flights:
- JFK-IST – 9hr layover for dinner and sightseeing
- IST-MLE – arriving at noon and boarding the Sea Plane to Conrad Maldives
- CMB – SIN (this is the open jaw, we paid for a ticket from MLE – CMB for about $130 spend 4 nights in Sri Lanka and then fly on to Singapore, this time not stopping, a 45 minute wait until our plane to Narita and Tokyo awaits us.
- SIN- NRT – this is the Stopover, 4 nights at the Conrad Tokyo
- NRT- JFK – this is the end of an Epic Adventure!
So using these 5 flights we get a 3 City break, a much better way to use those award miles than simply going from point A to point B and back again.
What we’re doing with 4 nights in Sri Lanka
- Day 1 Arrive 1pm – Taxi to Galle Hotel, stopover in Kosgoda on-route
- Day 2 5:30am Mirrissa Day Trip for Whale Watching Tour
- Day 3 6:45am Departure to Colombo – we arrived at 9:30am and were checked into our Junior Suite at the Hilton Residences by 10am.
- Day 4 – train to Kandy at 7am, check out the temple of the Tooth and Kandy City Center, train onto Pinewalla. we fly out at 1am on Day 5 to Tokyo
I should warn you by stating that our plans change on the fly, the plans have already changed many times – when we left the Conrad Maldives we actually had no idea how we would be getting from Colombo Airport to Galle, in the South of Sri Lanka. In fact a week ago we weren’t even going to Galle we were going to Kandy; however the Mrs got word of Blue Whales in Mirrissa, a small town 25 minutes from the Fort of Galle and we thought (she demanded) that switching it up would be the best thing for everyone!
In addition to the Whales in Mirrissa, Mrs Saverocity wanted to visit a turtle sanctuary in a town called Kosgoda, they started a small operation that purchases eggs from the local fishermen (who steal them to sell for food) and then incubate them and release in the evening. If you are planning to visit the release time is something around 6pm-6:30pm and will only occur when its not raining.
We were planning (at one point..) to get a Taxi down to Galle, check into our hotel here and split Day two between Mirrissa for Whales (starts early morning with a 5:30am departure) and take the car back up the coast the other direction, 40 minutes past Galle to Kosgoda for the Turtles. However, as luck would have it Colombo traffic is atrocious and our flight was delayed by 1hr, so we were driving past Kosgoda at 5pm, we negotiated a stop here with our driver by paying him some extra to wait whilst we frolicked with the turtles.
Everything is Negotiable
When we got into the arrival lounge we were slammed by Cab companies, all of whom were very official and government approved, and they all were very expensive – we were quoted between 9,100 and 11,000 Sri Lankan Rupees (1 USD is 125 Rupees) for our trip to Galle – we got them down to 7,000 by leaving the airport entrance and talking to a couple of different guys on the sidewalk. Sadly, the excursion to Kosgoda bumped it back up again but overall, we got the stop there for free by haggling.
So we are two days into the trip here in Sri Lanka, and have achieved our goals of Turtles and Whales – we also walked the Fort town of Galle and are ready to move on, so will be leaving on a train tomorrow morning that hopefully will take only 2 hrs to get to Colombo, we’ll drop our bags at the Hilton and have a discussion about what to do with the day. I’m already thinking that we should head out to a long tour somewhere, but we might have to give it a good 5 minute chat before we find out where we are going.
Mrs Saverocity writes up the trip reports and will have a lot of pictures to share (when I stop hogging the computer) so we will link these all in to show you the amazing things we have seen. I took a bunch of photos of Whales today, I hope some came out OK as the boat was rocky, but we did see several Blue Whales and a pod of 10 Sperm Whales which was breathtaking.
Unfortunately, we did have a bit of a SNAFU on the last day – we were directed to the wrong train, so actually missed Pinnewalla- we headed South and by the time we realized our error we were too late to be able to return and see the Elephants, so we headed back into Colombo to collect our bags and head up to the Airport – a rookie mistake by trusting only one persons confirmation that it was the correct train, but whats done is done.
If you are considering a trip here or have any questions in general, please leave a comment.