Thursday, June 16, 2011

Welcombe Hotel Trincomalee Sri Lanka Review

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Trincomalee is blessed with spectacular beaches but not particularly blessed with reasonably priced hotels to enjoy them in. John Keells' Chaaya Blu is nice but far from reasonably priced. Nilaveli Beach Hotel is reasonably priced but far from nice.
Hotel Welcombe Trincomalee Sri Lanka Hotel Welcome Trinco Sri Lanka
So this time when we went, we thought we'd try out the oldest hotel in Trinco and possibly the island - the Hotel Welcombe. As with all older hotels, it has a great location, perched on a hill high above Trinco town with a great view of the bay. But, again as with all older hotels, we were concerned about the rooms. Iffy plumbing, questionable mattresses, old linen, odd smells, cracked walls: we've experienced some of these problems in older hotels, sometimes all at once.
Hotel Welcombe Trincomalee Sri Lanka Hotel Welcome Trinco Sri Lanka
We arrived at 9PM in the night much later than we expected because I had decided to try the Vavuniya to Trincomalee road instead of the road via Dambulla. This road was reminiscent of the stories my grandfather used to tell about his circuit trips as a civil servant: pitch black, part gravel and part tarred roads, absolutely no shops or any places to eat except at army bases and slow as hell. The whole road was a giant pothole. We were tired as all heck and were ready to sleep in anything.
Hotel Welcombe Trincomalee Sri Lanka Hotel Welcome Trinco Sri Lanka

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My top 3 scenic drives in Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, that hoary old cliche about the journey being better than the destination is actually true. What I have enjoyed most about my travels to hotels and bungalows around the country is the drive there.

You pass forests, waterfalls, rivers and see ancient trees, massive bougainvilleas just growing wild on the roadside, green fields pregnant with paddy.

Some of the wonders you pass are man made: lakes that go as far as your eyes can see, temples that have been there before Jesus was a twinkle in God's eye, fortresses that were somehow built by by our ancestors on rocks that their descendants strain to climb unburdened.

Before you know it - Sri Lanka is so small and geographically diverse - you've gone from the sea side of Colombo to RL Brohier's plains of gold to fields of paddy to mountains of tea and you are wherever you were going to.

But that arrival is poignant because there's no more to see.

(Click "Read More" to see the 3 scenic drives I enjoyed most)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ice Cream at Lingan Cream House Jaffna Sri Lanka

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Regional variations don't seem to exist in Sri Lanka any more: it seems too small now to have anything that's uniquely from an area. You can eat Chilaw Crab curry anywhere in the country and no one - not even the cook - even knows it's from there. Wherever you go, the improvements in roads and the spread of supermarkets means that everyone makes everything pretty much the same way.

But when we set out to travel or eat, we want to see something different. That's why we were excited about visiting Jaffna. We knew its isolation from the rest of the country meant that it had developed an uniquely indigenous cuisine. (see the article on Green Grass Hotel and Restaurant Jaffna for more) What we were surprised to find was that it had also developed an uniquely indigenous ice cream.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Trevene Hotel Nuwara Eliya Sri Lanka Hotel Review - Trevene Bungalow

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Nuwara Eliya is one of those places I absolutely require some colonial splendor. I mean, it's little England, after all. But, recently, when visiting there for work I found myself unable to fit the Hill Club, which is my usual haunt, into our accommodation budget. So we had to limbo lower but, really, how low could we go?

Pretty low as it turned out. The Trevene Hotel  is a place I've always wanted to visit because the bungalow  looked nice, the TripAdvisor reviews were positive and the rate - LKR 2500 room only - was ultra low. But we were a little worried - at that rate, what horrors lay in wait for us?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Genuine Humbugs Hakgala Nuwara Eliya Sri Lanka - Strawberries and Cream

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One of my favorite legacies from our colonial overlords is strawberries and cream. The tartness of the strawberries countered by the sweetness of the cream with a little white sugar crunch is, without a doubt, one of the best bits of oppression I have ever undergone.

But eating strawberries and cream in Colombo is no good. You have to eat it in the hill country where either the climate and environment or nostalgia for my childhood years on a Nuwara Eliya estate adds an extra dimension of taste.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Amor Villa Unawatuna Sri Lanka Hotel Review - Beachfront Holiday Villa

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Welle Walauwa
Amor Villa Unawatuna Sri Lanka Hotel Review
Amor Villa was one of those serendipitious discoveries we made while looking to wash out the taste of a bad hotel we stayed at in Ahangama (Insight, if you must know. Godawful place.)
Amor Villa Unawatuna Sri Lanka Hotel Review
We were driving back toward Colombo hoping to find something nice and, just before Unawatuna proper, we passed the gate to Amor Villa. It was one of those high wooden affairs which brought forth visions of the mansions depicted in the old Sinhala teledramas with wizened old men in national costumes and high end bullock carts.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Restaurants in Negombo Sri Lanka - Rodeo Burger - Oasis Pizza - Phoenix - Bijou Swiss - Villa Araliya Vegetarian

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Negombo, 1.5 hours from Colombo, is a small tourist town / fishing village with a walkable strip of restaurants on Poruthota Rd (formerly Lewis Place) and hotels around it. Because it's so compact, you can go from kadala karaththe to restaurant to pub and stagger back to your room at the end of the night.

Even better, there are a wide variety of restaurants, all of which are quite good and reasonably priced. As a result, even when we went for a holiday weekend at Villa Araliya, all we did was eat. Negombo has all these activities like Dutch Canal rides - with kasippu on the way - and Muthurajawela swamp visits but we never cared: we just hung out and hoovered various kinds of food. These were some of our favorites:

Friday, June 25, 2010

Coco Veranda Coffee House Colombo - Restaurant in Colombo Sri Lanka

You Should Coco

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Paying more than LKR 200 for coffee at a coffee shop seems insane to me. For a few (hundred) rupees more, you can drink a beer on the Galle Face terrace. Given this choice, I’d always go for the more drunken option.

So, when Coco Verandah opened up on Ward Place about half a km from Odel, I thought it just another addition to the multitude of coffee shops with vaguely interesting names, lookalike ambience and average food.

We were passing by on a weekday, though, and we were hungry. Hungry enough that we couldn’t last all the way to Odel. So we dropped in and, avoiding the coffee, ordered the burgers and a sandwich instead.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Waterfront Hotel Tissamaharama Sri Lanka Review - Cheap Lakefront Property

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waterfront hotel tissamaharama tissa kataragama sri lanka
Hundreds of years ago, the people of Sri Lanka used to build lakes. Whether they liked it or were forced to like it or were paid to like it – King Dutugemunu had a budget - is another thing but they did.

Their ancestors tend to prefer more leisurely lake-related activities. I, being one of those people, can’t take issue with the preference – our lakes are spectacular, gigantic bodies of water and, as you lie next to it with a Rockland Red Rum and ginger beer, you can’t help but say “Thanks, great-great-great granddad for working so hard to give me something so nice to watch at sunset!”

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Used Bookstore in Colombo Sri Lanka - K & S Sales - Old Curiosity Shop - Used Books Colombo Sri Lanka - Used Bookshop Colombo Sri Lanka

used bookstore colombo sri lanka k and s sales kohuwela
What is serendipity?

Just before I got married, I decided I wanted to do a trip around Sri Lanka on my own. I didn't understand exactly why I did but I wanted solitude, maybe to understand myself, maybe to bid my misspent youth a fare thee well, before I took the biggest step of my life.

On my way, I went to my favourite place for buying used books, K & S Sales in Kohuwela (on Dutugemunu St, next to the Police Station, in the same building as MaxMara). It's a gigantic antique/bric-a-brac store, not unlike the ones occupied by mysterious Oriental men in movies like The Gremlins inhabit.