We flew with Mihin Lanka from Seychelles to Colombo. As it is considered a budget air line I was expecting not very much.
I was pleasantly surprised with the flight. We had more leg room than I had anticipated which is always a good thing.
There were no TVs, but we were prepared for that and loaded the iPad up with movies to keep Arthur entertained if he got upset. He didn’t really need it though which was great!
We were given dinner which was actually delicious, we had a choice of either vegetarian or chicken curry, I had veg and mark had chicken, Arthur had some of each of ours.
The airport in Colombo was much bigger than I expected, I guess we have got used to our small airport in the Seychelles now! Everything was clean and mostly well signposted.
The one thing we missed was that we had to fill in arrival cards so we got to Passport control without doing that, luckily there was no queue else that would have been pretty annoying!!!
Stepping out of the airport is, frankly, manic!! Cars, taxis, and people everywhere.
Our taxi driver met us with a sign for “Miss Mark H” which enjoyed!! He didn’t speak very good English and it took a while to figure out that he had parked the car in a separate car park and we were to walk there, it wasn’t far!!
We told him the name of the place we were staying and he didn’t know it. He kept asking if it was Colombo 1, Colombo 3, Colombo 7 etc…..I had no idea what he was talking about.
Turns out Colombo is separated into different districts (hence the different numbers) although we are yet to find a map with these on!!
We didn’t have an address for our guest house just the name. Mark knew what street it was and roughly that it was near the Canadian embassy (this determined that we were in Colombo 7)…..should be easy to find right…..WRONG!! We drove around for over 2 hours looking for this place with our taxi driver just repeating “you have no good address? Just the name!” He was starting to get angry!
At this point it is after 1 in the morning and we are exhausted. Mark tells him to just take us to a hotel, any hotel and we will sort it the next day.
I was astounded when we got to a hotel that we weren’t totally ripped off by our taxi driver, the pre-agreed price for our transport for to the hotel was $35 and he didn’t charge us any more than that, despite having driven around for an extra two hours…..amazing!
We emailed the place we were staying once we got our hotel room and they were very apologetic, they have promised to pick us up in the morning, refund our taxi cost as well as the first nights stay.
We are now in the right place. The Cheriton Residences. it’s a lovely guest house, turned out we had pretty much been right outside whilst driving around the night before!!! This place has a very colonial feel to it, our room is huge and Arthur’s cot is lovely, not just a travel cot!
Here’s a bit of a grainy picture just taken on my iPad, we will upload all our camera pics once we are back in Seychelles.
We have learned a few lessons from this experience so I thought I’d pass on a couple of tips:
1. When arriving in Colombo Airport fill in the arrival card before getting to Passport Control. That might sound obvious, however, we already had visas so didn’t realise we would have to do that too!! “visa” in fact is an ETA which we obtained online. Sri Lanka ETA is electronic and it is linked to our passport, so just need to show Immigration our passport and the arrival card.*
2. Taxi and Tuk Tuk drivers are not like London cabbies knowing their city inside and out: Know what district of Colombo you are staying in, this will help you driver out!!
3. Make sure you have the address of where you are staying. Hotel, guest house whatever. Have the full address and the phone number!! This will save hours driving around! Places are hard to find, guest houses particularly are not massively signposted!!
*in collaboration with SriLanka.org