Waking up in the grandiose Tintagel Colombo followed by speed tourism of Colombo and Negombo before taking off to the Maldives.
I awoke to the patter of rain on the balcony outside my room and was soon lost in thought of the significance of where I was sleeping.
The Tintagel Colombo wasn’t just a fancy hotel, it is a landmark in Sri Lanka’s history. Built in 1930, it was used by the British military during WWII, later being sold for Solomon West Ridgeway Dias (SWRD) Bandaranaike to live in. SWRD became Sri Lanka’s fourth prime minister in 1956 and was assassinated in 1959 on the very veranda of the Tintagel by a Buddhist monk.
His widow, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, became the world’s first female prime minister and Sri Lanka’s longest serving prime minister. The Tintagel was her home until she passed in 2000.
In 2005, the property was leased by the Bandaranaike family for its current use, as a private hotel.
You would expect this site to house a public museum, but guests of the hotel have a chance to peak into Sri Lanka’s history and high society.
We sat for a private breakfast and explored the property before setting off for the day.
We met with our driver, Thursara, around 11 am and started our speed tourism of Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo.
Colombo maintains a certain charm from its Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonial past, but like many growing Asian cities, it is quickly developing with many new high-rises on the way. Our tour focused on the cultural sites with our first stop where the country celebrates its freedom.
In the center of the square is the Independence Memorial Hall which celebrates Sri Lanka’s independence from British rule in 1948. It was still raining which made the marble floor very slippery, but we took the time to walk around the empty memorial. There is a statue of Don Stephen Senanayake, the father of the nation.
National Museum of Colombo
The largest museum of Sri Lanka was our next stop. The building housing the museum was a good example of Neoclassical architecture. Most of the exhibit was of ancient Sri Lanka that we already saw firsthand, so it was a nice conclusion to the ancient sites.
We drove to one of the most famous Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. The temple was a mishmash of architecture, attractions, and purpose. The buildings were interconnected and of different styles of architecture including Sri Lankan, Indian, Chinese and Thai. They had many random attractions such as a chained elephant, a bodhi tree from the original one in Anuradhapura, a moonstone, a wedding chapel, and even Sri Lanka’s oldest Mercedes. We were even turned back from leaving because we “didn’t see everything”.
Very close by is the lake that seems to be quite popular as a recreational area with paddle boats and couples chatting on park-side benches. We went to the shrine Seema Malakaya shrine that sat on an island.
Galle Face Green
Not too far is the large lawn that borders the sea. There were only a few people swimming due to the rain and cold weather. The Galle Face Hotel is right at the waters edge with other well known hotels facing the ocean.
We then took a drive passed the financial district, got dropped off and walked to the railway station, then visited some religious landmarks.
With Colombo wrapped up, we headed to Negombo! This is the fourth largest city in Sri Lanka and it’s well known for the fishing industry and beaches.
We went to have a look at the harbors, fish market, and Dutch fort. Then passed by the guest houses and touristy area before stopping for some local deviled fish and egg fried rice at Cherry Garden Family Restaurant. The food was excellent, though the bugs and mosquitoes we had to fight off weren’t.
After dinner we drove to the airport and gave our thanks to our wonderful driver who basically lived with us for three days. We boarded our flight to the Maldives. It was comforting to know that we could finally relax a few days after the hectic touring of Sri Lanka.
Arriving in Male’s Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, I was surprised to find that a country so reliant on tourism would have such long lines for immigration (especially since no visas are required for any country) and customs. After a small hold up with the luggage, we met up with our Kurumba team member and were finally out of the airport.
Instead of a taxi we boarded a yacht for a quick ride to the resort. During our check-in, we were provided an itinerary of our entire stay there, which I reviewed while indulging on a coconut sorbet.
We were led into a room where we were given coconut sorbet as we signed the forms and gave out passports. I was handed a itinerary for the schedule of events during our stay. Then we were taken to our room via an electric cart and given a tour of the amenities.
After an exhausting day of speed tourism and traveling, there couldn’t have been a better way to unwind than sipping on a mixed-berries mule in bed at the Kurumba.