I booked a small car to take myself and one suitcase to Negombo, on the coast north of Colombo and the airport on Monday, 31st October.
I had tried to book a taxi but with the sound of my non-native voice the first taxi company I contacted quoted me 7,000 LK and when I said too much, dropped the price down to 6,000 LK (about £30) immediately, but this was still way too much.
I tried the on-line http://www.budgettaxilk.com service next and it is a bit confusing – well I know I get easily confused – but I couldn’t work out if I was hiring a car for myself to drive (never would here) or a car and a driver.
The system is all so efficient, that is if you know what your are doing and I evidently didn’t. Get on to their website where you can choose your vehicle, type in your pick up point, then your destination, but that is as far as I got before the screen sort of jumped to another page and it all got a bit beyond me so I dialled the telephone number.
A very nice lady had patience with my accent and mis-pronunciation but eventually we got there. It’s not just a car and a driver you have the choice of. She asked if I wanted a TukTuk, an eco-car, a saloon car, a jeep or luxury car or a truck. I wasn’t sure what an eco-car was but it sounded good. She said it would cost around 2,500 LK and that the driver would phone me.
The company texts you with the assigned driver’s name and the registration number of his vehicle.
Unfortunately, the assigned driver, D G Priyantha, couldn’t understand me either, but I texted the pick up address and the destination on the mobile and shortly after a cream coloured Tata was weaving its way around the warren of streets adjacent to the Pelawatta house.
A Tata is quite a small car, petrol but you get good mileage, and you sit pretty upright in the front seat – my suitcase filled the back seats. It was a really enjoyable journey with D G Priyantha as we chatted in half words and sentences, whilst he wove his way through the afternoon traffic.
The nearby roads are excellent because they are near the new Parliament but as the traffic became denser and slowed to a standstill, the white helmeted policemen directed the traffic at main intersections in the road. The three lanes would become five or sometimes six lanes a side as TukTuks, motorbikes and even brave cyclists jostled for position in amongst the cars, lorries and buses. With horns tooting consistently we moved further north and I agreed to pay the 300LK which would allow us to use the new motorway and shorten our journey time.
I had looked up Terrace Green Hotel on Tripadvisor and it seemed to meet all my needs for this week. It’s just off the main road to the beach and came highly recommended. It’s spotlessly clean and I was immediately upgraded to a larger room on the first floor.
I even have a flat-screen Sony TV but I haven’t watched TV since I left Ireland on September 17th apart from one schools programme on the 18th which I haven’t seen since. I don’t know what is happening with all the soaps, who has died, who is sleeping with who and it is amazing how you can switch off from something – no pun intended.
I booked half-board and the dinner last night was amazing, although I couldn’t eat the main course, which was picture perfect. The first course was described as Cordon Bleu chicken with curry and spices. It’s all cooked fresh so there is a bit of a wait and I asked for no spices and no pepper. What I got was absolutely wonderful. Slim strips of chicken and a variety of vegetables all stir fried in a delicious sauce. I almost licked my plate – it was just divine. Then came cream of pumpkin soup with garlic flakes accompanied by a plate of feathery light tiny bread rolls. I was full by this point and just had no room for the main course which was presented picture perfect so I apologised to the chef, and opted to have a dessert, curd and treacle and then tea.
There are around a dozen tables set in the open-plan dining room, which leads on to reception on one side and on the other, wearing pristine white uniforms and high hats three chefs work harmoniously together behind a high counter.
The waiter is from Colombo city and has been working here for around five months. He gets the bus home on his days off but lodges nearby the days he is working.
The beautiful girl on reception wears fabulous saris, a pink one yesterday and a blue one today and she does have the figure to wear them.
It rained heavily during the night again and there were several rumbles of thunder followed by flashes of lightning. The power went off two or three times last night but the hotel has a back-up generator. However, it’s another hot, sultry blue sky day today.
I loved watching the clips on line of the rowing in Skibbereen yesterday. So thanks for posting that up. I was at the daughter-in-law’s niece’s rowing on Friday in Colombo.