My birthday, plus a holiday in Bentota

Bentota Travel Blog

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Zoe at the turtle sanctuary

It was a strange start to my birthday: waking up on a bench in the arrivals hall in Colombo airport, where we'd stopped to get around four hours' sleep before the first bus of the morning. The flight from Dhaka was with Thai airways via Bangkok, and so we'd got into Colombo in the early hours of the morning. We were pleased to find, on waking up, that our bags hadn't been stolen, and we headed off to find a bus into town.

There was a bus just leaving and we managed to squeeze on. In spite of tiredness I could begin to feel an attempted rip-off coming on; all the other passengers were being charged for the journey but we weren't. However, the bus was heading in the right direction (Colombo train station) so I wasn't that concerned.

View towards the beach
Sure enough, the conductor waited for us to get off the bus (out of earshot of everyone else), and then tried to charge us 500 rupees each for the journey (the Lonely Planet said it should cost 25, and the book was only a couple of years old). I'd seen other people paying, but hadn't quite managed to work out what the price was, and whether they were paying for one or two people, so I didn't know the correct price. As soon as I refused to pay 500 rupees the price started coming down, which in a sense made me even more angry, since it was a blatant admission that we were being ripped off. We were, however, in a pretty strong position to argue, having got off the bus with our bags. And every minute the bus was sitting there waiting for its conductor was costing them money, and he was rapidly getting very irate.
At the hotel, with Zoe's parents
In the end I gave him 50 rupees for the two of us, which I think was half of what the locals were paying, but was the largest note I had apart from a 500 which I certainly wasn't going to give him since I didn't trust him to give me any change back. He wasn't at all happy but I made it clear that I was paying so little only because he'd originally tried to charge so much. There were a couple of tuk-tuk drivers watching who found the whole spectacle quite funny; I think that they were laughing at him as much as they were at us.

We just missed a train which was heading south towards Bentota, where we were meeting up with Zoe's parents who were taking a two week holiday in Sri Lanka.

Zoe's mum, me and Zoe
We had to wait two hours for the next train. The train was quite slow, but the line runs along the coast and so the views from the windows are very pleasant. I'd bought magazines to read in Bangkok airport, and so had plenty to keep me occupied in any case. We got off the train at Aluthgama: there's a station at Bentota, but we weren't sure whether the train was stopping there; not all of them do. We got slightly ripped off for a tuk-tuk to Bentota; although we paid less than the price in the Lonely Planet, it was far too much for the distance covered - the Lonely Planet author must have had a bad day the day they wrote that bit. We found the hotel where Zoe's parents were supposed to be staying but they hadn't turned up yet. Worryingly, they weren't even on the list of people who were expected later on! It all turned out all right though.
Enjoying a drink

We managed to find a guest house just across the railway line from there hotel, set back from the beach, where rooms were only 900 rupees a night. There didn't seem to me much choice of places to stay in Bentota, so this was actually OK. We were surprised by how much more expensive accommodation was in Sri Lanka than it had been in India. In fact, Bentota was a more expensive place than other places we stayed in Sri Lanka; the Internet cafe was truly exorbitant by the standards to which we'd become used - we only used it once.

Zoe's parents turned up in the evening, and we had dinner together. They'd already spent a week doing a tour of the island with a guide, so we were able to get some tips on the places they'd visited, and use this to plan our time in Sri Lanka.

Bentota beach
We had a week in Bentota, and then a further week to explore some of the sights of the rest of the island.

One of the great benefits of being there at the same time as Zoe's parents was that they were paying for a nice hotel, and we were able to use all of the facilities. This included having hot showers, which we hadn't done for ages, and also having plenty of hot water for washing clothes. We spent a lot of the week lazing on sun loungers and generally relaxing. It was a good way to recharge our batteries.

One day we did an outing to a turtle sanctuary. We were told how much good these places did for the turtle population. Later in our travels we met a fellow traveller who told us that they were just a way of getting money our of tourists, and that they were very bad for the turtle population. She said she'd worked in a place in Sri Lanka that was actually doing something to protect the turtles. I suppose the chances are she was telling the truth, but I didn't research it any further.

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Zoe at the turtle sanctuary
Zoe at the turtle sanctuary
View towards the beach
View towards the beach
At the hotel, with Zoes parents
At the hotel, with Zoe's parents
Zoes mum, me and Zoe
Zoe's mum, me and Zoe
Enjoying a drink
Enjoying a drink
Bentota beach
Bentota beach
Wildlife at the hotel
Wildlife at the hotel
Baby turtles at the turtle sanctua…
Baby turtles at the turtle sanctu…
View from the train window, betwee…
View from the train window, betwe…
Bentota
photo by: stabber911