Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Colombo Fake-cation

It was a nice long weekend but alas I was tethered to the on call phone and had to stay in the area (Good thing I did as I was called in). We were getting a bit stir crazy and decided to spend a night and take a stay-cation or fake-cation as the case may be at the Galle Face Hotel which is known as one of if not the oldest hotels in the Orient (Built in 1864).

The hotel has two sides, the Regency side and the Classic side. The Regency side has been refurbished and is more upscale, you can figure out what the Classic side is. We picked a Deluxe Oceanic Suite with a sea side view. It was a very large room with a big jacuzzi tub, king sized bed and two separate balconies. We were also given access to the Executive lounge which was a perk for working for the company. They never did explain what the card entitled us to which meant we lost out on afternoon tea and free happy hour drinks (Although we don't drink it would have been nice to grab some hors d'ouevers.

Our main objective was to leave the laptops at home and lounge around the big salt water pool and get away from the city. Now the funny thing about all of this is that we can literally see our apartment building from the hotel!

We were curious to see the hotels 20,000 square foot spa. I had never seen anything like this. There was a room for just about every spa treatment you can think of. I had never seen a sensory deprivation chamber and after seeing one don't think I want to try it and at $65 an hour don't think I would anyway. The gym had a trainer and the men's locker room was equipped with sauna, steam shower and jacuzzi tubs. I made use of the jacuzzi for my back.

In the morning I decided to see what the VIP card entitled me to so I went to the Executive lounge and asked about breakfast, I showed him my card and he said that they offered a continental breakfast for free, which I thought was fine. I went back and grabbed Chris and we made our plates and had some fresh juices. The waiter asked if I wanted some eggs with bacon or sausage or both, I thought why not. I ordered some scrambled eggs and he came back with a very fancy plate of eggs and bacon. I was pretty much stuffed after this. There was only one other couple in the lounge. Next time I'll make more use of this place.

Here are a few photos I took of our stay and a video of the room:

Chris chilling outSalt water poolView from the lounge chairHere's looking at you kid
Yours truly in the pool
Tall building in the background is our apartment and Chris checking out the room service menu
The beachPhotobucketPhotobucket
The beach is not very user friendly here. It was cloudy Sunday but I got sunburned (Again) Saturday

The Nuwara Eliya Experience

Lest I forget the second part of my journey with my son took us to Nuwara Eliya, also known as Little England. It was a very long drive through the tea plantations. We learned that there are low range, mid range and high range grades. I thought certainly with all of the driving we were in high range tea territory, but it was only mid range, it was probably two more hours before we reached high range tea plantations.

Whats with the Little England title? Apparently back in the colonial days Nuwara Eliya was the place that the British elite went to get away from the Sri Lankan heat, you see Nuwara Eliya is cold! I heard that it was cold, didn't realize how much so until we got there. The weather reminded the Brits of back home. Along with the weather there are golf courses (Probably the only on Sri Lanka) and European themed architecture throughout the city.

There isn't much to do in the city. There is a open market that sells Columbia, North Face and other name brand jackets for as little as $10. I bought a nice fleece jacket for about $3 and another jacket for my son for around $27.

The city was once known for it's horse racing track but it was shut down by the government.
Now when we entered the city we saw people riding horses which most likely meant that you can ride them as well so I called our driver and asked him to take us to the horse track.

As we pulled up to the horse track we were followed on both sides by men on horses or by foot, think of a paparazzi scene, I'm not kidding, I knew were in for fun when we parked. As soon as we got out it started "SIR SIR RIDE MY HORSE" "MASTER MASTER RIDE MY HORSE"this went on and on and on. They wanted 1000 Rupees to ride the saddest looking horses and ponies you have ever seen for a half hour. I told them no way, I would give them 1000 Rupees for two of the best horses (sic) for a half hour. The best I was offered was to ride a pony for 750 Rupees for a half hour, I wasn't going for that. Then things started getting edgy, somebody grabbed my arms by behind and was trying to pull me towards a horse, somebody else had one of my sons feet and was trying to put it in a stir up. I put my arm in the air and signaled for our driver and told my son we were leaving. We got in the car and the mob scene continued. We pulled out and drove back to the hotel only to see that there was a group on horseback chasing us down the road! Picture that, like something out of a bad movie. Eventually they stopped and turned around. I was really surprised that they would rather not get any business than bargain down, but it didn't matter. The horses were in such poor condition we didn't want really want to ride them.

One good thing about our stay was our hotel which although a little aged did offer some nice amenities, turn down service with chocolates, breakfast with egg and crepes chef, stocked bathroom with a hair dryer (That's rare here), free WiFi, satellite TV, mini-fridge, all for less than $70.

Photo: St. Andrew JetWing Hotel http://www.jetwinghotels.com/jetwingstandrews/

Book Corner - Finished Reading

The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones by Anthony Bourdain
288 pages
Non-Fiction (Mostly)
Collection of short stories

You either love him or hate him or something in between. I have never read any of the authors books before but am a big fan of his "No Reservations" series (I'll post links to his Sri Lanka visit).
He has a unique style of writing, his language is rated "R".
Overall I'd say a good read for foodies, epicurean's and travelers alike.