Being a traveler, calls for a lot of help from practically everywhere possible. I have always
had fair mixture of good and bad experiences, when it comes to getting help from the local folks.
My recent trip to Maldives and Sri Lanka has shown me so much more about people!!!
While I was in Maldives, initially, I had plans and reservation to stay at the Arena Beach
Hotel from 14th-17th.
Problem Statement: Our flight to Colombo on 17th, was at 9:30 AM. The speed boat rides
from the hotel to the airport island ran only at 8:30 AM and later in the evening. The earliest
boat ride that we could take, was at 6:30 AM, at a price of $120.
Solution in my mind: If only I could check out a day earlier than planned and head off near
Solution by the front desk manager: The manager’s name was Mosa; he said: “If you
have direct booking with us, I can cancel your reservation for 16th night and help you check
out of here and reside for the night, somewhere on Hulhumale island, as that’s close to the
airport.” And that wasn’t it… he proactively found us a reasonably priced hotel on the
Hulhumale island and made a reservation as soon as he found a great deal!
Was that it? Of course not! My Father wanted to celebrate my birthday and he reached out
to some of the staff members from the Hotel. So that night, after dinner, everyone gathered
around our table, with a cake… well… there was a celebration that I felt a bit shy about, coz they played a birthday song loudly on the beach side, with everyone else around 🙂
Now, after we reached Hulhumale, the hotel where we were staying, had a wonderful staff
there! They provided us with all the details of the ferry that we had to take to Male city, the
taxi fares etc along with converting some our USD’s to MVR (Maldivan Rufiya).
After we reached Sri Lanka… well, here comes a blend of bad experience…the cab driver,
who was supposed to take us to Bentota, was kinda money minded. Halfway through the
ride, he stopped at a small bakery and kept on insisting us to eat something from there,
while he had his wholesome food. While he was ordering, I noticed him continuously pointing
towards us to the cashier. We being really tired, chose not to have anything. Later, I realized,
he was actually trying to make us pay for his food (if we’d ordered). Later, when we reached
our destination, he started asking for extra money. I was being really firm and turned him
down… Oh well, that was just one… The guest house I booked for us, in Bentota was no
good. The doors of the rooms were not proper, water was not flowing properly, AC didn’t
work properly etc etc etc… however, the manager helped us find a hotel nearby, Hotel
Susantha Garden (Read More)… and that uplifted our sore mood completely… the hotel manager
Tushara was a very sweet person. As soon as we checked in, he hooked us up with some
tea in our room, along with some tourism details and arrangement for the next day.
Now, the tuk-tuk driver (cum guide) who was dedicated for our tourism, was another nice chap.
His name was Nuan. He rode us though some of the marvelous scenes and sites around and beyond Bentota… not only were the scenes part of the tour, but meaningful
monuments, Tsunami impacted areas and unique creatures were the major views!
Two days post our stay, when we were about to leave Bentota and head towards Colombo,
Tushara told us about the cheapest, fastest and most comfortable option to do so.. “Take the
train”… and what was more? The station was right next to the hotel:)
After reaching Colombo, well, I had learned about the bargaining techniques by now, the taxi
and tuk-tuk drivers started demanding a hell lot of money for a 5km ride to our hotel. Thanks
to my bargaining confidence, I could get there in half the rate stated 🙂 Now the concierge at
our hotel Ivy Lane Colombo (Read More) was just wonderful. They made sure we had the best stay and tourism experience around Colombo. In fact, they were the first people to tell us that,
Colombo will take only 1 day to look around 🙂 But before we began our exploration, we
needed some currency conversion to be done… and the best information that some of the
local people could give us, was Hotel Pearl… the moment we reached there, I asked the the
guard at the hotel door about currency conversion and that man, with a sweet smile on his
face, took me inside and showed me the way to a small office, which was the only place
open for conversion, till 6 PM (everything in Lanka, closes by 5-5:30 PM :))
And so we headed off to Sigiriya on our last day of stay… This place is proclaimed to be the
8th wonder of the world, because of its historic presence (read the link)…
And then of course, shopping… We did a hell lot of shopping from the local markets and
malls, based on various feedbacks we’d received from the localites! There is a mall named
Majestic, which has everything one can look for and another mall named Odel (open till 11
PM)… man were their stuffs amazing!
Finally, our vacation days came to an end with loads
of smile on our faces and memories in our hearts.