Help from Locals

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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
the airport.

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 🙂

There's Mosa on the left...
There’s Mosa on the left…

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!

Can you see the big lizard-y thing? (c) Sriparna
Can you see the big lizard-y thing? (c) Sriparna
Induruwa Beach; (c)Sriparna
Induruwa Beach; (c)Sriparna
Balapitiya Beach; (c)Sriparna
Balapitiya Beach; (c)Sriparna
South Asia's largest reclining Buddha at Karandeniya; (c)Sriparna
South Asia’s largest reclining Buddha at Karandeniya; (c)Sriparna

 

Turtle Eggs @ Turtle Hatchery; (c)Sriparna
Turtle Eggs @ Turtle Hatchery; (c)Sriparna
A 3 days old, newly hatched turtle baby; (c)Sriparna
A 3 days old, newly hatched turtle baby; (c)Sriparna
A turtle without a limb; (c)Sriparna
A turtle without a limb; (c)Sriparna

A monument to respect the Tsunami victims; (c)Sriparna
A monument to respect the Tsunami victims; (c)Sriparna
(c)Sriparna
(c)Sriparna

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:)

At the train station;
At the train station;

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 :))

(c)Sriparna
(c)Sriparna
Streets; (c)Sriparna
Streets; (c)Sriparna

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)…

The rock view; (c)Sriparna
The rock view; (c)Sriparna

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!

(c)Sriparna
(c)Sriparna

Finally, our vacation days came to an end with loads
of smile on our faces and memories in our hearts.

  1. I was impressed by the help you got from the hotel manager. Lucky you, it’s not always granted t get support like this, but I think that when it happens we really have to cheer to those people!

  2. it’s rare to see a blog post like this–about not a destination but about a certain experience, one that could have been a real downer. neat the the story is about the interaction with local people, about working with them.

  3. It’s really heartwarming when locals go out of their way to help out tourists! So sad to see injured animals, glad they have some place to take care of those turtles. thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. Loved hearing about Maldives, as I used to live there. The locals truly are helpful, kind and caring. I’m so pleased you enjoyed your visit!

  5. It’s always nice to receive a helping hand when you are away from home. Interaction with locals is always something I encourage, as it is something that usually gives great memories and nice surprises.

  6. a very interesting post. I have been to the Maldives so it was no surprise to me that they tried to help as they quite accommodating people. The turtle eggs were really neat and the monument for the tsunami victims was quite moving.

  7. This is such a fun experience…my daughter got a chance to go to Maldives too and she said the locals there were very friendly.. I can only hope I can get to visit these places one day for myself… FIngers crossed…..love your experience and photos.. and I am sure they make fond memories

  8. I am sorry for the unfortunate turn of events in your trip mate yet you can still be considered lucky that there are still people kind enough to assist you. I think in you travel, you to learn how to haggle and learn some expression in that locality. For instance, if you are in Cebu, Philippines, you can say ” Taga pila?” = How much?, ” Pwedi mo hangyo?” = Can I haggle?, “Mahal” = expensive , ” Barato” = cheap. These are helpful expression every true Blue Cebuano uses to negotiate in Cebu.

    http://www.truebluecebuano.wordpress.com

  9. The driver that you guys have experienced in Sri Lanka is weird. I never had heard a kind of experience like that, but I took in several bad experience when riding a taxi, but not that one. He must be truly a money maker by doing such. In any case, at least you guys had so much fun and good experience in the Maldives. Bad and good experience are constantly part of our adventure when we travel.

    LaiAriel

  10. Sounds like you had an amazing trip. Definitely memorable wasn’t it? 😀 Sad to hear about the cab driver! Don’t worry though we all have bad cab driver stories 😛

  11. There is no such thing as perfect travel but these experiences will help you more in learning how to deal with different people. Good to know that you still enjoyed your trip despite the not so good experiences. The cab driver is really weird.

  12. What an awesome trip. The staff sound so lovely and genuinely interested in what they do, even if it meant getting a cake and candles ready. What a lovely surprise I am sure your dad will look back on fondly. Pity about the cab driver but everyone else definitely makes sri lanka a place to go back to.

  13. Looks like an awesome trip (aside from that cab driver). I’ve been dying to go to the Maldives as well. Did you manage to make the long trek to the top of Sigiriya?

  14. The taxi driver forced you to pay for his food? What the hell?! I think I would throw a fit if I ever meet such a driver. I hate being cheated it really makes me angry. Anyway, it’s nice to know that despite all the ugly things that happened to you, some people saved the day. The turtle looks cute!

  15. I say congratulations. I also saw a very pleasant journey. There are many great places and even fun for you to visit. It would make a beautiful memory and unforgettable

  16. The world sure is a mix of good and bad people! And such bitter sweet experiences makes the life journey! A wonderful travel experience… I like these… I am so bored of the must see 5 so and so… kind of posts.

  17. Travel is always a mixed bag of experiences and am glad you had a share of both – good and bad. I am sure it enriched your travel outlook. I remember those turtle hatcheries from my trip and have fond memories of it. I sure would love to do that one again. Overall, seems like a good trip

  18. We’ve been eyeing to go to Sri Lanka next year. Thanks to you I got some travel ideas. Also, there will always be that one bad driver that will try to ruin our trip. You’re a true-blue traveler. You didn’t let it affect you. Maldives is also on my bucket list.

  19. It’s great when people take the entra mile to make you feel special. That taxi driver was really bad though, I wouldn’t have accepted to stop the ride in the middle so that he can get food. That was so bad from him, also expecting you to pay for it!!!

  20. You are so right… Sometimes, more than the place itself, it’s the people that make everything more memorable and special. I’m glad that you experienced amazing service and hospitality! When my husband and I went to Bali, it was the hotel staff that made our trip extraordinary. They helped us in every way, including getting our money back from a dishonest taxi driver!

  21. Wow, what great customer service from your hotel staff! And hmm, I’m starting to think that cab drivers all around the world are a bit shady. Happy birthday to you, by the way! Cute picture 😀

  22. Correct me if I’m wrong but after reading many travel blogs about Asian countries, many bloggers honestly complains how they had a bad and funny experience with taking cabs… It is sad that that transportation is always been a problem, and many drivers are taking too much advantage of tourists, never realizing it gives a negative impact as a whole.

    • Trust me, it’s not just in Asia… I have faced bad experiences with cab drivers even in the United States… It’s more of the people driving than the place that has these impacts 🙁 Truly is sad!

  23. Happy you enjoyed your vacation! Sometimes we can go to a country and completely forget the locals. We’re too busy seeing landmarks and ticking bucket lists. It’s great that you are able to at least meet and encounter locals — positive or negative as it may be. It just adds more depth into your trip 🙂

  24. It’s just so saddening that most taxi drivers take advantage of tourists. I just hope that this kind of attitude will be lessen though there are still drivers who don’t. Anyhow, I bet you had a wonderful experience and I can see in your post that the vacation was a superb! I love how the hotel staff made your vacation wonderful despite the inconveniences you experienced.

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