Seychelles 2018 Day 1 – Transit stay Negombo, Sri Lanka

Our CNY trip started late Friday afternoon, a first for us as normally we would have optimized the day for real traveling at the location rather than wasting the day away on the plane. The difference this time was an irresistible deal that Sri Lankan Airlines had in December for some good discounts and one of them was for flights to Seychelles, via a transit at Colombo. We got the tickets for 2 adults and a kid for SGD3300 all in. As the transit for both directions were more than 12hrs, we get free accommodation (though not fantastic ones) at Negombo too.

Our Grab car arrived on time and we had managed to squeeze 2 x 28” luggage into the Avante luckily ( driver didn’t respond to our big luggage question) and SGD26 and 30 mins later we were at Changi T3 checking in at the counter.

Since ours was a transit flight, we packed a separate haversack for us to last through the 15hrs at the transit and we found that out only at the counter itself, being informed that the luggage will go direct to our final destination (fortunately we did most of the packing at home because Sri Lankan Airlines were really slow in responding to my email enquires about this and their outsourced Colombo call center didn’t bother to call back when I missed their call). The bags were checked in after we took out some items that we had missed and we proceeded for our late lunch with sandwiches and pastry at Pret-a-manger before going to the toilet to get K into new diapers.

Pret lunch

Upon reaching the gate just 20mins before flight time, we realized we were one of the last few to board, quickly we got to our seats and settled in, K totally comfortable as long as there was TV. I was thinking to myself about the upgrade bids that the airlines was promoting and am happy that I didn’t go for it as it didn’t seemed worth it from what we saw walking past. There was just more leg space and that was about it, nothing luxurious about the seat though. No wonder the prices were also cheaper than the normal.

The flight took off on time and soon we were enroute towards our first destination, Sri Lanka. The entire was ok without much drama and food was nice for the non-Sri Lankan one ( as they were not too spicy). The good thing was they served the child’s meal first and so by the time K finished his, ours then arrived. The rest of the flight was pretty much movies and snoozing, K snoozed an hour and a half before resuming his videos of my Little Pony and Teletubbies. I managed to watch the front part of Thor Ragnarok that I missed in the movie previously and the whole Kingsman movie.

Sri Lankan airlines child’s meal.

We touched down into Sri Lanka on time, at around 420pm and landed with quite a bump. We then moved through the warm bridge, heated up by the hot weather, to the arrivals and went to the transfer counter and handed over our next flight tickets and my email indicating the room reservation of our accommodation by Sri Lankan Airlines. She then provided an official letter and asked us to proceed to Visa payment before going through immigrations. Singaporeans didn’t require Visa and thus we went to just pick up the immigration papers to fill up and went through the immigration quickly.

Transit counters
Confirmation voucher from the transit counter.

Once through, what greeted our eyes after the counters looked more like the insides of Sim Lim tower rather than the usual duty free stores. There were stores selling electrical appliance like TVs and refrigerators, totally things I wouldn’t imagine getting from an airport! After using the restrooms, we proceeded to walked out of arrivals and exchanged some SGD to Sri Lankan rupees at 112:1 SGD at Thomas Cook after seeing the same rates for all the other counters. Then we walked to a Sri Lankan Airlines Colombo stopover counter and handed over the form that we just gotten and in return, he gave us a voucher indicating a free transfer to the hotel, a dinner for 3 persons and a room. That was pretty good deal!

Shops after the immigrations.
Sri Lankan airlines transit counter in the arrival hall.
Hotel voucher from the counter.
Thomas Cook forex at arrivals.

We waited at the sitting area in the crowded area and it was also quite warm, from the weather and the crowd. I went to the second floor food court to get a bottle of mineral water for 150rupees and then also used the restrooms. We waited for almost 30mins before the staff signaled for us to go to the transport that would take us to the hotel. We were concerned that they didn’t know where to find out and had went to check at the counter again and was reassured to wait at the sitting area. K played with his own camera the whole time and like a normal curious kid, was moving about most of the time.

Arrival hall waiting area,
Food court on the 2nd floor.
Food court.

The outside was hot and humid and was quite crowded. We only had a couple of haversacks and that made moving around easier. A saloon car arrived shortly and we sat at the back of the car, sharing with another passenger who took the front seat. The drive was about 30mins going through the small roads to Negombo, through the busy shopping streets where we saw a couple of churches before arriving at Catamaran Beach hotel.

Outside Colombo airport.
Negombo street.
Small malls could be seen.
Saloon car transport to the hotel.

The reception immediately checked us in and informed us about check out the next morning at 5am to bring us back to the airport. We didn’t know why the need to go that early since we didn’t have to check in at the airport anymore. It was just immigrations to go through and that was it but they argued that it was airline policy to be there 3hrs before flight.

We were brought to the room with 3 beds and a tiny TV. It was a pretty run down place but decent enough for a nights rest, and came with a lounge area at the corridor. I wouldn’t be interested to lounge there since I would be left exposed to mosquitoes which were huge and rampant. It was almost 630pm and was just in time for sunset. I was impressed by the huge yolk of the sun touching down at the horizon. Wanted to walk to the beach and didn’t know there was a staircase near where the bar was and walked back the length of the corridor twice before reached the beach. By then the yolk was gone. I spent some time on the beach while mommy and K had earlier returned back to the room for dinner that mommy had prepared in Singapore. Took some photos of the sea and the surrounding where some people were playing beach soccer.

Corridor loungers.
3 beds bedroom
Sri Lanka Sunset!

An Angmo lady in bikini chatted with me saying that she wanted to go into the water but found it too dirty, looking at the seaweed washed up ashore. She mentioned that the water temperature was warm though and I went to check it out myself, true enough it was nice and warm. Later on a local was pandering some stuff from his bag of goodies and the angmo lady said she wanted durians. There was some nego between them so I left to join my family back at the room after a short detour to the reception to get the WiFi password and asked for toothbrush which I was informed to get from nearby local stores.

Negombo beach during sunset
Beach soccer for the locals

After K finished his dinner of soup, I quickly gave him a rinse with water ( his shower gel was in the luggage) and we changed to get ready for our free dinner. I thought it was supposed to start at 7pm and found the dining area empty, and a schedule saying that dinner start at 730pm. We decided to walk the streets to find a store that sells toothbrush and toothpaste. Not long before we saw the worlds’ smallest Carrefour. It wasn’t really Carrefour but a local store decided to call itself that. We bought what we needed and return back to the room.

Local shop named Carrefour.
Negombo street at night.
Catamaran Hotel at night.

745pm after a bit more TV for K, we walked down again and was surprised to see the place still empty. Seeing one of the chef, he told us that the dinner was actually at the bar on the second floor. K even followed the chef to the kitchen as he tried to lead him away holding his hands. We need to work on his gullibility.

Dining hall.

The bar near the swimming pool was set up for dinner and there were tables at the bridge where we saw the sunset. But the overall area was too dark even though the stars were shining their hardest above our heads. We shifted to somewhere next to the brightly lighted bar (since the bar area was full) and proceeded to get from from the buffet. There weren’t many choices and I chose the conservative non-spicy food since it was the start of the holiday and a upset tummy was a sure way to ruin it. Other than white rice and veggies, there were some grilled chicken and fish, thin cream of chicken soup and ultra sweet deserts and some fruits. Not fantastic but ok. It’s free anyway.

Bar where dinner was served.

We all returned to the room after dinner with a mosquito bite on my hand. It was only 930pm Sri Lankan time but the body clock was at 12midnight and so we all fell asleep relatively quickly. Good as it was a hell of an early start the next day.

Escape plan to Seychelles February 2018

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to Seychelles 2018:

Total duration 12D11N
Singapore is 2.5hrs ahead of Sri Lanka and 4hrs ahead of Seychelles.
Flight time is 4hrs on Sri Lankan Airlines from Singapore to Colombo and 4hrs on Sri Lankan Airlines from Colombo to Mahe.

Afternoon flight on 9th Feb at 3pm and arrival in Sri Lanka at 420pm followed by a transit duration of 15hrs 25 mins.
Morning flight of 8am on 10th Feb and arrival in Seychelles at 1035am.
Return flight is on the 19th Feb at 535am and arrival in Colombo at 1120am followed by a transit duration of 13hrs 40min.
Morning flight of 1am on the 20th Feb and arrival in Singapore at 730am.

Day 1 Transit stay at Negombo
Day 2 Arrival into Mahe
Day 3 Anse Interdence, Anse Royale town and Maria’s rock cafe
Day 4 Ferry to La Digue
Day 5 Anse Source D’Agent beach and Giant Tortoises
Day 6 Valentine’s on Praslin
Day 7 Valle de Mai and the Coco de Mer
Day 8 Curieuse island, Giant Tortoise and Anse Lazio beach
Day 9 Mahe and The Magic Circus of Samoa
Day 10 Beau Vallon beach
Day 11/12 Home Sweet Home

This escape plan was to utilised the long weekend from the Lunar New Year to get away for some R&R. Since during this period of time, the northern hemisphere would always be cold and we did not want to go to Australia (again!) and coupled with the irresistible airlines deals offered in December by Sri Lanka airlines, we decided on a visit to Seychelles for CNY.

Budget nature: Very expensive due to costly hotels and food.

Most of our budget was spent on food as each restaurant meal can turn up to about 60SGD per meal. Accommodation was overall costing higher than those we normally take in other parts of the world but these were pretty close to the beautiful beaches/waters. Although fuel price was comparable to that in Singapore and Seychelles islands being relatively small, we did not spend a lot of pumping gas. Activities and trips were not cheap and were offered in Euros.

Complexity: Easy to get around in a car.

It was easy to drive around in a car as the islands were served by a single lane road most of the time. However, in order to get from the east to west coasts, we had to cut across the hills by going through curvy hilly roads that might be difficult in terms of road sickness and also at night due to the lack of lights.