We spend two weeks in stunning Sri Lanka in January on a family holiday. My husband Anthony was born in Colombo and lived there for the first 7 years of his life. This was his first return in 45 years.
Anthony wanted to visit some of the places he could remember like the Galle Face Green & Hotel, the Colombo Swimming Club, the homes he lived in, the nursing home where he was born, the Colombo golf club where his father won many a competition, etc. As we could not afford to do a package holiday we planned and booked everything ourselves via the internet. I am adding the names of the places we really liked as I know first hand how confusing it is when you first start investigating alternatives to the commercial hotels.
We were lucky enough to find Jally our tourguide/driver and friend on trip advisor and I can't praise his skills enough. He spend the first week of our holiday with us, firstly in Colombo and then on a tour to Dambulla, Kandy and lastly to Weligama where he took leave as we spend the second part of our holiday in a beach bungalo - pure heaven! He also picked us up again for our return trip back to the airport and had photo's of our holiday posted on facebook by the time we got home!
Jally was a star - we emailed him the addresses of the places we wanted to visit and without fail he managed to find all of them including the address of one of the homes where Anthony lived which now has an apartment block on it - a bit confusing at first.
When one of the accommodation options was not quite up to scratch Jally quickly organized us an alternative. His driving skills are immaculate, he safely drove us through the hectic traffic, flooded roads and mudslides, sometimes having to turn around to find an alternative route but always getting us to the destination somehow. (We were unfortunate to be in the Dambulla/Kandy area while they were experiencing heavy floods) He was great company and has a fantastic knowledge of his country.
For anyone thinking of spending some time in Sri Lanka the advice I have is don't hesitate! The country is stunning the people are fantastic the food is to die for and if you want a quiet bungalow with your own private beach in one of the not so commercial tourist towns in the South, Villa Hibiscus in Weligama is an unbelievable find. It has fantastic snorkeling and safe swimming at the end of the garden, stilt fishermen in the distance, a staff of five at your beg and call with the most delicious rice & curry meals imaginable and all at a reasonable price - what an unbelievable place! Oh and surfing for my boys and a local village just down the road.
Kandy Cottage in Kandy was another hit, its not luxurious but has a definite charm. It is off the beaten track but literally only a few minutes walk from the center of town, peacefully set in a leafy valley bordering on a national park. We had 2 eventful nights there with landslides, power cuts and the road being impassable by car's - had to lug our luggage for about a half a kilometer through the mud to get there! - Unforgettable
Lastly for a stunning B&B option in Colombo we stayed at Havelock Bungalow, pure luxury, once again for a very reasonable price - the only negative here was the European menu but we found a fantastic Indian (not Sri Lankan) restaurant just down the road so no problem!
If anyone wants to get hold of Jally please post a reply with your email & I will gladly pass on his contact details.
All in all a great holiday - till next time, hopefully soon!
Tina & Anthony Robinson (Knysna South Africa)