Seychelles 2018 Day 11 & 12 – Home Sweet Home

Transit day back to Singapore started at 230am. Dazed from the lack of sleep, I was up brushing my teeth while and mommy woke thereafter. The activities that went past were just about packing and preparations. I have brought everything up into the car and the last and hardest was K. Mommy carried him and tried to minimize disturbance to his sleep and managed to have him continue sleeping in the car while I drove 30mins plus to the airport. Roads were quiet most of the time at this hour and by the time we arrived, it was already 430am.

Called the rental company staff and heard a sleepy voice over the phone, knew that he didn’t wake up to meet me at the airport, mentioned just to leave the car. So I left the car at the airport carpark with the key in the glove compartment and sent a picture of both the key and the car location to him via WhatsApp before loading up all the luggage. Then I carried K to the checkin while mommy pushed the luggage.

K was asleep until he woke up at the check in counter. Nouvobanq was amazingly open at this unearthly hour and I took the chance to change back 1450rupees to 80 Euros. Then we checked in at the business counter as I had successfully upgraded our seats via bidding for 175USD per person, and received the business class tickets, the continuing economy tickets to Singapore (which bid was unsuccessful) and invitation to use the lounge.

Queue even in the wee morning.
Nouvabanq forex opened too.

We went through the checks and immigration which invited some questions over our leaving dates as it seemed like we were supposed to leave on the 15th reflected on the stamp. After this, we proceeded to the second floor where the lounge was and took one of the cushion benches to rest and have some breakfast. Luckily our 530am flight was delayed and thus we had some time to enjoy the lounge. The rest of the shops weren’t opened anyway so we maximized the lounge usage. K even fell asleep on the couch.

All the shops still closed.
Lounge invitations.
Sri Lankan lounge.
Lots of seating spaces.
Buffet spread.
Food from the lounge.

620am and the boarding started. The lounge staff went to inform the passengers about boarding and I carried K trying not to wake him but upon reaching the plane, he woke up. Getting into the business class section was easy since there were lots of space for people and bags. Mommy and K sat on one aisle while I sat alone at the other side. Though I felt that the luxurious part of the seats weren’t there when we first flew at the start of the trip, it was still a lot better than squeezing in economy.

Business tickets!

There was a welcome drink and warm towels for us. The headsets looked sturdier with noise isolation features but we couldn’t watch anything since the screens were all within the armrests. Once we took off, we could use the tablet-like interface.

At business class.
Sturdier headsets.

I took out my camera to capture the view of Seychelles from the skies, managed to catch a circular rainbow as the plane got further away from the beautiful island, at the same time when the morning sun was rising up from the horizon. The end of a holiday.

Circular rainbow leaving Seychelles.

What followed was more food in the form of a breakfast, and I finished the omelette and whatever there were served to me. Mommy was full from the earlier breakfast and fed K his omelette that he got from the economy planned child meal (there weren’t any child meals in business class). I was typing away on my phone of the events in the last two days while charging it plugging in to the screen and watching Bladerunner 2049. Mommy fell uncomfortable due to the bumpiness of the plane from turbulence and asked me to swap places so that I could get K to sleep. K went to sleep after a while and I continued my typing and show.

Kids meal.
Adult ones.
Earl grey with milk.

Time flew past and a short while after the show ended, which I found quite confusing about the plot, partly because I wasn’t fully focused on watching it, the pilot announced our arrival and the landing would be taking place soon. I prepared K’s seat, blocking all the bright lights with pillow so that K remained asleep and managed pretty well as he remained sleeping right till we were about to exit the plane.

Long coast of Sri Lanka.

Carried him to as far as the transit office and he woke up. I checked at the transit counter if we could change the reservations from the Catamaran Beach hotel to the Serenediva hotel inside the airport and he informed that it was not possible and we had to pay separately to the hotel if we chose not to accept the free accommodation as per the time we first flew in. Mommy wanted more rest time and so we chose to go to the newer hotel on the 2nd floor.

We checked with the reception and it was USD120 for a 12hr block. I paid with credit card and it was then I realized that I have left 2 important things in the luggage. One was my own Singapore SIM card, which meant I remain uncontactable by mobile until Singapore and the other was Sri Lankan currency and SGD!

Serenediva hotel.
Hotel room.
Seating area and dresser.

We were given a room with a double and a single bed and in a much better room than what we had in Catamaran Beach hotel. Used the free WiFi and tried to look for pasta as K wanted to have pasta. Coffee Bean had pasta so we proceeded to it for K’s lunch.

fLunch at Coffee Bean.We had initially thought of getting out of the airport for food after K’s meal. Checking with the visa personnel, he said we could just go through immigrations because we were Singaporean. Powerful Singapore passport! But the more we find out what to expect outside the more we decided against going. My plan was to go see the Dutch fort, Dutch canal and probably walked around that area in Negombo where there were also some church and market. But the costs one way by taxi was in the region of 2800LKR which was about 25SGD and thus the whole trip could be already 50SGD. From the TripAdvisor tips, those places didn’t looked like it’s worth the trip so we gave up.

Ended up shopping at the airport instead while mommy bought some coconut oil since it was commonly produced in Sri Lanka, I was confused by the 4 brands of tea stores, not sure where to buy from.

We returned to the room and while K entertained himself with the toys that we brought along, the parents had some time on the mobile phones. Gave K his packets of milk and after some storybooks, he got into the single bed with me and I coerced him to sleep. He developed the strange reasoning of not liking the pillows and insisted on sleeping on me. So for a good 1hr, I was immobilized and also took some time to catch some rest.

I got a chance to find out a place we could get some Sri Lankan crabs and at the same time near to the airport. TripAdvisor number 1 was Mermaid food court and on Google map, it looked pretty close.

Managed to convince mommy to head out for dinner and once everyone was up, we left the room to first finish our purchases at the duty free, with mommy getting her spa stuff and me topping up the food to bring back, like Cashew nuts and Zesta tea bags. Left all the purchases in the room before we went through immigrations, which was smooth with no questions asked.

Zesta tea boutique.

Once out, mommy went to exchange SGD50 for about 5800LKR at one of the many exchanges that all had the same rates. We then proceeded to walk to the main road after checking with one of the airline staff who was also leaving the airport, on where to get a Tuk Tuk ride. At the entrance the touters approached us and upon showing them the Google map and naming a street near it, we were quoted 700rupees, in which I asked for 300rupees. We ended at 500rupees to get to our destination.

Tuk tuk.

It was an amusing ride for K as he sat together with us on the Tuk Tuk and we arrived shortly at Mermaid restaurant after 10mins, with me guiding the rider using my Google map.

Mermaid seafood restaurant.

We arrived at a modernly designed restaurant by the lagoon and was shown the location on the lagoon for the seats. Although it wasn’t really bright enough under the twinkling stars, it was sort of better according to the owner as there was more windy and had less mosquitoes. Crossing a tiny bridge, we made ourselves comfortable on the bench and long table.

Inside Mermaid restaurant.
Mermaid statue.

The food came after some 30mins of BBQ on the grill, two crabs and 4 prawns, a prawn fried rice and chicken macaroni. There was juice and vanilla milk shake too. We enjoyed the food thoroughly and though I liked the grilled taste of the crab, mommy thought than the Singapore version where crab with sauce tasted better since BBQ made the meat dry. The other food was tasty too as K liked both the fried rice and macaroni. All these only for 3750rupees. The owner even helped get us a Tuk Tuk back for 400rupees.

Fried rice.
Vanilla milkshake.
Sri Lankan crabs!
Neighbouring restaurant.

It was the same route back on a street with still some traffic even at almost 10pm. We arrived at a gate meant for Tuk Tuk drop off and after bidding farewell, it was back to a rather crowded and busy airport. We went through security checks twice quickly since we only had 2 bags and immigrations had a short line too. Returned to the room and quickly took a bath before taking a really short nap. Somewhere at 1215, a call came into the room to wake us up, asking us to check out.

Day 12

Got up and did whatever final packing before carrying the napping K in my arms. We returned the room card and proceeded to the basement gate R1 to go through the final security, which involved taking out the shoes. This was so troublesome that my movement woke K up. After that, a short wait at the gate, we had to take a bus to the plane. Got up the plane which ended up as a pretty full flight.

The flight back was just tiring as the lack of sleep hit us. After watching his same favorite show of Little Pony and teletubbies and eating some meal, K couldn’t get to sleep quickly. Both mommy and me was already nodding off after our chicken briyani and it was not until a long while of tossing and turning did he managed to doze off. We landed with no drama after but again I had to carry the napping K off the plane which woke him up. It wasn’t really a good flight timing looking back.

Sunrise enroute to Singapore.

This CNY trip was planned to take full advantage of the very long weekend that we had and at the same time, visit a non-Chinese and not cold country. It was also to fulfill one of our bucket list country to visit. The visit met my expectations to say the least, really one of the destinations with nothing much to do except to chill and enjoy the beaches. I probably missed out the lot on water activities such as snorkeling and visits to the islands but I guessed it would be more enjoyable for K to have less seasickness on the boat rides and less mosquito bites. However, in terms of beauty, Fiji seemed to take our breath away more probably because of its exclusivity as a really small resort island but close behind was the Beau Vallon beach that we visited and loved on the last day.

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.