Thursday, February 23, 2017

How to materialize Sri Lanka Here I come ..

Notes:- There is once people drop me a message - “Your blog looks stale- no update for months. Are you doing well? Do you have any side affects after your scoliosis surgery?”. Thanks for your concern. I am doing very well. I am more healthier than before. A much more happier person compare to before.
I leads a very busy daily life. I am officially employed in a Financial Institute working as a database administrator taking care of production environment. My job sometimes required me to work long hours. We do applications rolled out, system maintenance during our customers are sleeping. So there are times I work while you guys are snuggling in your comfortable cozy bed. My spine that are braced with titanium screws and nuts have no complain even though someday I need to abstain from bed due to work throughout the night. I also do swimming at least 3 times in a week to ensure that my back muscles is strong to enable me to continue enjoy quality life.

Actually I have done this Sri Lanka back-packing trip in October 2016. Friends do asked me when can we see your photos? Where do you share out your photos?  Apologize I am working on my blog in a very slow moving pace like the sloth but not in the same pace of it's laziness. hahahahahah

Working in a big organization, they wish to prove that no one is indispensable. So yearly we are required to take mandatory block leave for at least 5 days that overlaps a weekend. During this mandatory leave the company is not suppose to contact you even for critical issue.

To fulfilled this mandatory block leave I block up 11 days of my annual leave. This year my 1st choice holiday destination during my mandatory leave is India, however many says and warn me that India is not safe for female travelers. I then browse through the list of Airasia flight destination on what countries that could gives me the taste and feel of India and most of all must be safe for a solo female travelers. Sri Lanka surface up as my choice.

I bought the ticket and I told myself it would be a economical backpacking style of holiday. Definitely for sure I am not going to hook up any packaged holiday tours. I am going to plan the itinerary/places that I should visit according to my liking.

I centralized with the thoughts that I want to do bird watching and also sightseeing as I travel along. I Google and did my own research discovered that Sinharaja Forest reserve -Unesco world heritage surface as the top list. Unlike others popular holiday I hardly could find many share their holiday back-packing experience on Sri Lanka. To me Sri Lanka seems to be not a popular demand holiday destination, therefore is hard to source information from the internet. I couldn't find the answer is it necessary as a Malaysia to apply visa in order to enter Sri Lanka? How safe for a female to travel alone?

As the flight days is drawing near. God allow me to meet up with a few Sri Lankan. Started with HE sends a few Sri Lankan people attending the same church as I do. However I discovered that It was very frustrating communicate with them due to language barriers. These are factory worker who can only converse limited English. Then one day during lunch break at Oracle training venue @ KL, I meet a few Sri Lankan IT professional who came here for training. I told them that I am in the midst of planning my “free and easy” trip to sri lanka. I told them it was frustrating cause I could not find much information in the internet. One of them gives me his email. He told me that I can write email to ask further about his country. Yes indeed I am very grateful to this man, he reply my email. I asked him how to travel with public transport to Sinharaja. Is there any airport I shuttle bus? I hope to see panther. Where can see panther? How much monies should I budget to spent per day? Public transportation convenience to move around Sri Lanka? Is it safe for female travelers?

I started by starring at Sri Lanka Map for days and hours whenever I am free. As the days is drawing nearer with the information fed to me, I managed to draft out my traveling plan. In a very draft manner I will do a loop stopover at Galle (UNESCO heritage site), visit Sinharaja National Park (UNESCO heritage site), hopping to have a glimpse of Sri Lanka Leopard at the nearest national park near Sinharaja. Aim to do the scenic train journey of Sri Lanka tea plantation and my last stopover is Kandy (UNESCO heritage site) before fly back to Malaysia.

I face some difficulties on good information on how to reach Udawalawe from Sinharaya using the public transport. Coincidentally a Sri Lankan spine doctor who is here for his fellowship at the hospital where I use do volunteering at their scoliosis clinic came to my rescue. He gives me very details instructions. I was really overwhelmed that day as he told me that he will offer me a “VIP welcoming treat”. He will send someone to pick me up from the airport upon my arrival to my first destination. My headache on how am I going to reach Galle is being solve. Thank you very much Doctor.

Pre-requisite to travel in Sri Lanka

Regarding Visa (ETA). The following citizen are exempted from Electronic Travel Authorisation for a short visit Sri Lanka up to 30 days.
1) Republic of Singapore
2) Republic of Maldives
3)Republic of Seychelles

The fees are spelt out in Sri Lanka Online Application  (ETA)
No photos are required, we can apply ETA online with credit card. ETA approval are instantly even though they did says that it takes a few days to process. It is very important to furnish the name and passport number as in the passport else you need to apply and pay again.

What can I do if I make a mistake in my application?
Once an application is submitted processed and payment is made, you cannot cancel the transaction and the payment cannot be reimbursed.
Name of hotel/guesthouse
In the Disembarkation/Embarkation form it is mandatory to put down Name of hotel/guesthouse. For backpacking off course we would stay in different hotel/guesthouse as we travel. Just put down the first hotel once you have landed. So it is important and necessary that you need to book the 1st hotel/guesthouse that you going to stay.

Sri Lanka rupee is different from the India Rupee even though they are neighbor. As it is difficult to find money changers that deals with Sri Lanka rupee in Malaysia, it is best to convert MYR to USD first. You can use USD,EURO, SGD $, AUD $, Japan Yen, Korean Won change into Sri Lankan Rupee on arrival at Colombo airport. There are several banking currency exchange outlet after exiting immigration. All of them are all offering the same rate. Among them there is only one that deals with MYR however the rates is not favorable. Unless you will be at Colombo city, it is recommended to change Sri Lanka Rupee in the airport upon arrival.

How much monies you need?
The peak season for tourism is Nov till April. A decent clean comfortable room rates that used to be 2,000 rupee per night during off peak can soar up to 10,000 rupee. It is super cheap to moves around using public transport eg bus and train. A 2 ½ hrs of bus journey 100km on a public bus only cost 130 SL rupee. The three Wheeler (motorcycle taxi) is 100 SL rupee for 1KM.
Local food Sri Lankan street food meal is price around SL100 – SL250.

Mobile Phone Cards
In this new modern computer era we would like to be connected at all times. This will ensure that our loves one will able to contact us at anytime and also stay in-tune with the outside world. It is much economical to get a local sim phone card from the local mobile service provider rather than do roaming. If you are in mind of depends on the free WIFI at the public places ie hotel, restaurant, coffee house, from my experience I was there for 12 days their public WIFI is hopeless. You either need be in the common place in the hotel or have your room very near to the modem.

So it is still highly recommended to get a Sri Lankan sim card. There are 5 mobile service provider counters at the arrival hall at Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake

The 5 mobile services providers servicing in Sri Lanka.
 2. Mobitel

 3. Airtel

 4. Etisalat
5. Hutch

They are open for service 24 x 7 ready to serve the tourist as they walk out from the departure hall. In terms of price all of them package their mobile tourist plan at different perks but selling at the same price. During my visit in Oct 2016, the mobile tourist plan with data plan and micro sim card cost LK1,350.

How to buy a Sri Lankan local phone cards?
Handover your passport, your mobile-phone, the amount you need to pay to the mobile phone counter as per your choice. They will do all the necessary. They will request you to sign a contract paper of the mobile service provider. The staff will also inform you your SL mobile number. The whole process takes about 25 minutes.