Prior to the wedding, we definitely raised a couple of eyebrows when we said we were going to Sri Lanka for our honeymoon. I guess it’s not really a conventional holiday destination (much less a honeymoon destination) and understandably so, due to the 25-year Sinhalese-Tamil civil war that just ended in 2009. 25 years is a long time away from tourism, so I suppose people didn’t know much about Sri Lanka apart from all the bad press. But the war had ended, and it was time to rediscover Sri Lanka.
Now that I’ve been there, I’ve come up of a list of 8 things you (may or) may not know about Sri Lanka. They’re mostly my first-time impressions of the country, but I’ve snuck in some facts as well. We were only there for a week and quite honestly haven’t as much as scratched the surface so not all of the below may be accurate — but hey, first impressions count for something right?
- Being so close to India, I wondered how similar things were going to be in Sri Lanka. To the untrained eye, the people probably look the same. To the untrained palate, the food probably tastes the same. So where do the differences begin?
I haven’t been to India but I once had an Indian colleague who told us quite frankly that India still has a long way to go in terms of how women are perceived. I really do want to visit India one day because I love Indian food and culture, and I truly believe that not all Indian men are sex maniacs or male chauvinist pigs, but at the moment I’m finding it hard to get past the sex crimes that’ve recently been making headlines.Well, it turns out that Sri Lanka and India are worlds apart — and even Indians who visit Sri Lanka are attesting to this (read about their accounts here and here). Not just in terms of safety (which I’ll be elaborating about in the next point), but in other aspects as well.
- Speaking as a female traveller, Sri Lanka felt safe — or at least the places we went to were. I did not feel at all feel threatened by the men there — not in the major city of Colombo, and not in the small town of Hatton. They did not stare inappropriately, or do anything that made me feel uncomfortable.
- Sri Lanka’s population is largely made up of Sinhalese (mostly Buddhist), followed by the Tamils (mostly Hindu), the Moors (Muslims — descendants of Arab traders who settled in Sri Lanka). A sizeable minority of Sinhalese and Tamils are Christian.
- The places we visited were impressively clean! Of course there is going to be rubbish, but there was little to be seen. No beggars on the streets, either.
- Sri Lankans I had the pleasure of communicating with were mild-mannered, respectful and polite.
- There are many national parks in Sri Lanka where you can find leopards, elephants, barking deer, birds, and other wildlife. If Africa’s a tad too far, consider Sri Lanka — it’s touted as one of the best safari destinations outside of Africa.
- I was nervously getting ready to having to haggle over tuk-tuk fare in Colombo, but it turns out the tuk-tuks there are metered. Hurray!
- I did not see a single person smoking in Sri Lanka, which was FANTASTIC because I have low tolerance for cigarette smoke, and an even lower tolerance for inconsiderate scums (can you tell how much I hate them?) who like to smoke along the pathways and in public areas, without any glimmer of remorse poisoning everyone’s lungs with deadly second-hand smoke.
Seriously I could write an entire book about how much I hate these people and I don’t care if you’re offended because if you are, it only means one thing: you know you’ve been inconsiderate. Seriously, of what consequence is the bruised ego of one inconsiderate smoker versus the act of putting many others at risk of disease?!
I especially abhor it when I see parents smoking around their young children.
In Sri Lanka smoking and consuming alcohol in public places are punishable by law. I’m not sure what the parameters for ‘public places’ are, but I sure didn’t come across anyone smoking during our entire week-long trip. Great job Sri Lanka! Sorry to end off the list with a bit of angst, but I tend to be very….impassioned about these things.
So there you go. Now you know a wee bit more about Sri Lanka!
After Lunuganga, we headed for Galle Fort, which was about an hour away. But first, we had to have lunch because we were FAMISHED.
For some reason we got really excited at the prospect of having pizza when we saw a Pizza Hut outlet. I don’t remember if it was because we were hungry and Pizza Hut was the first restaurant we saw, or if it was because we were subconsciously craving simple food, after having had gourmet meals for the past week.
We were tickled when we saw they had a localised item on the menu called “Birizza” — which is essentially a fusion of biryani and pizza. It sounded quite interesting, so we ordered one to try.
And so with our tanks refuelled, we explored Galle Fort. Here’s a bit of its history:
Sri Lanka is an island that has changed hands several times in history. They were once ruled by the Portuguese, then the Dutch, and then the British, before achieving independence in 1948. Everyone wanted a piece of the tear-shaped island because of its strategic location for trade. It had the business of Persians, Arabs, Greeks, Romans, Malays, Indians and Chinese in its seaports back in the day.
Galle Fort was originally built by the Portuguese 426 years ago, and the Dutch and British subsequently added their own fortifications. These centuries-old fortifications later stood the test of nature, when the devastating 2004 tsunami hit Sri Lanka. There was little damage within the fort walls, but tragically the tsunami claimed many lives outside of those walls and in other coastal perimeters.
Today, within the well-preserved Dutch architecture of Galle Fort, you’ll find residences, a functioning High Court and Magistrate Court, religious sites like a mosque, Buddhist temple and churches, cool cafes, hip boutiques, jewellery shops, book stores, hotels and other businesses. Galle Fort very much reminded me of our Haji Lane/Arab Street in Singapore.
We had our last breakfast in Temple Tree Resort & Spa before heading for our last stop in Sri Lanka — Colombo.
All in all a good-ish stay in Temple Tree. Service definitely has room for improvement, but nothing to kick up a fuss about. We really enjoyed our room — the decor, and the view and sounds of the Indian Ocean were spectacular.
The hotel only has 9 rooms — coupled with the fact that some of the rooms were undergoing maintenance, we literally felt like were the only guests there. Once we did see another Caucasian lady, but that was it. I suppose the lack of people around could make the hotel seem a little lifeless, but we personally had no problems with it because we were a honeymooning couple — we needed exclusivity and privacy!
In Colombo we spent our last night at a business-cum-leisure hotel called Renuka Hotel.
We didn’t see the need to get a fancy hotel in Colombo because the main agenda here was to shop for souvenirs and get a taste of the Colombo city while we were at it. Pressed for time, after settling ourselves in we had lunch and went straight to it — we didn’t even stop to take pictures of the city (which I kinda regret now).
The next morning we had a couple of hours before our flight back to Singapore in the afternoon, so after having the hotel’s South Indian breakfast, we snuck in yet another trip to Odel, and then to Paradise Road:
Sri Lanka sounded great from research, and it definitely lived up to my expectations! In fact, I’m thinking of taking a trip back next year to do all the things we didn’t get to do while we were on our honeymoon.
On our next trip, we will:
- Conquer Adam’s Peak. Adam’s Peak is a 2,243-metre tall mountain, which is a shared religious site for Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians alike. There is a footprint at the peak, which is believed by the Buddhists to be Buddha’s footprint, by the Hindus to be Lord Shiva’s, and by the Muslims and Christians to be Adam’s when he was exiled from Eden. Adam’s Peak has been on my bucket list ever since I saw the most magnificent sunrise from the peak on the Sri Lanka episode of “Departures”.
- Go dolphin- and whale-watching in Mirissa. Boats will take you out to sea from the Mirissa Harbour. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see out in the wild a school of dolphins upclose or witness a grand display of whale tail flips!
- Go on a safari in one of Sri Lanka’s many national parks.
- Visit the ancient cityof Sigiriya in Dambulla, another UNESCO world heritage site which contains a 180m-tall rock fortress, and a palace complex. You get another panoramic view of the surroundings from the top.
- Visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage to get upclose and personal with elephants.
Oh what an adventure it’ll be! But before that, we’ll be going for a second honeymoon to Turkey this May! Mega excited!
Up to this day I wonder what difference it would’ve made if we had made Ceylon Tea Trails in Hatton our last stop because the views, the service, the food — everything — was pretty darned hard to top.
The reason we decided to go there at the beginning of our trip was because:
- After a hectic week leading up to the wedding, we needed a damn good retreat
- After reading the reviews, I didn’t think we could’ve waited for it to be at the end of the trip
- We didn’t want to lug souvenirs we’d be buying from Colombo all over Sri Lanka if we went to Colombo first
Whatever it is, our trip still turned out amazing so it’s all good!
In the second leg of our honeymoon we travelled to Induruwa, a quieter coastal area just a few minutes south of Bentota, its more popular and bustling neighbour. The initial plan was to stay in Bentota, but I didn’t find any hotels there on Tripadvisor that I fancied. But Induruwa turned out to be a pretty good decision because it felt more private.
For two nights we stayed in the Temple Tree Resort & Spa, a beachfront hotel that offered uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean and had a humongous tub in every room which would take ages to fill — but was definitely worth the wait. More than enough space to splash around!
The first night we were there we did a rejuvenating ayurvedic body massage to prep us for the next two days of sightseeing. By the time it ended we were famished and Pali, our driver, recommended us a good seafood place called Amal Villas. It was amusing to see they had “Singapore Chilli Crab” on the menu, and for fun we ordered it just to see if it would taste the same. It tasted NOTHING like our Singapore chilli crab! It was more like a sweet and sour dish — but still fortunately quite tasty.
We ended up eating quite a bit because we’d invited Pali to have dinner with us, but he was too shy and only ate a bit before leaving us to ourselves. But it was nice to get to chat with him for a while and find out more about Sri Lanka through a local’s eyes.
Our second day in Induruwa saw us visiting Lunuganga, the country home of the late Geoffrey Bawa, a renowned Sri Lankan architect.
As he (Bawa) went on to become Sri Lanka’s and one of Asia’s most prolific and influential architects, the garden at the Lunuganga estate remained his first muse and experimental laboratory for new ideas. He continued to change and experiment with its spaces and structures throughout his life until his final illness in 1998. Left to the Lunuganga Trust on his demise in 2003, the gardens are now open to the public and the buildings on the estate are run as a country house hotel.
In my search for accommodation during the honeymoon, I remember stumbling across a hotel called The Villa Bentota and being wowed because it had such a distinct and unique style. I later discovered it was designed by an architect named Geoffrey Bawa, who had designed a whole repertoire of hotels both in Sri Lanka and internationally. In Sri Lanka, these hotels were the Heritance Kandalama in Dambulla, the Jetwing Lighthouse in Galle, and the Tintagel and Number 11 Colombo Residence in Colombo, just to name a few.
After having designed so many hotels, Lunuganga was interesting to see because Bawa built it for himself, so in a sense it was a true reflection of his personal tastes. He spent his lifetime experimenting with the space — I don’t know about you but I was very curious to see how a place that took 40 years to build up looked like.
Getting there saw us getting lost, stopping several times to ask the locals for directions. We later learnt that every single detail about the 23-hectare Lunuganga was deliberate. It was inaccessible because Bawa had intended it — he treasured his privacy very much.
We finally arrived at this huge iron gate with nothing but an old bronze bell as form of communication which seemed to lead into a forest, no buildings in sight. Did we arrive at the right place? Surely this couldn’t be the main entrance? We rang the bell and waited. Five minutes passed. I thought maybe the place was closed and had begun to feel a little disappointed, but lo and behold suddenly a young man came running from the inside to let us in. Trip not wasted afterall!
Going into the premises we realised why it took the man five minutes — it was a bit of a walk in but I didn’t mind. I was already enjoying Lunuganga and its many visual stimulants: giant trees hundreds of years old, flora of different species — and when we finally got to the houses, they were old and rustic on the outside but bursting with character on the inside.
We weren’t allowed inside these houses, which now serve as hotel rooms, but they had windows for us to peer through. In terms of accommodation, Lunuganga is probably not the place for you if you cannot live without all the mod cons. There are no swimming pools, no TVs, and probably no wi-fi. What you do get, but which is priceless these days, is a sense of immense serenity and still-standing time.
As a layperson I’d say Lunuganga is an amalgamation of traditional and modern, eclectically peppered with all of Bawa’s favourite things, making a style that is uniquely his.
Lunuganga was beautiful and I enjoyed it tremendously. I wasn’t sure at first if Faz would appreciate this sort of attraction — I still probably enjoyed it more than him — but thank god he turned out to be quite an easygoing travelling companion!
Coming up in my next post — our visit to Galle Fort, a 426-year-old historical monument and UNESCO world heritage site that was originally built by the Portugese but was subsequently taken over by the Dutch and then the British, and then to Colombo for a taste of Sri Lankan city life!
After we came back from our honeymoon I think I was probably more excited to write about our amazing time in Sri Lanka than our wedding. Of course I enjoyed our wedding tremendously but to wind down after the pains of wedding planning and to be travelling for the first time as husband and wife was even better!
Being the more detailed and analytical half, I had automatically (and quite delightfully) put myself in charge of the research and itinerary. Each time I sat down and researched the things to see and do in Sri Lanka, I would come out of it more and more excited because there were just so many!
But we only had a week, so we had to choose. After much deliberation, we decided on the Southwest region of Sri Lanka. These were the places we ended up going in our trip:
Our first stop was Ceylon Tea Trails. Tea is an integral part of Sri Lanka’s economy (they’re one of the world’s largest exporters of tea) so seeing the tea plantations was a definite must for us. There were many other hotels amidst the plantations, but based on research, Ceylon Tea Trails in Hatton seemed to offer the best experience, and was thus intended to be the highlight of our trip.
We arrived at Bandaranayake Airport, Colombo at 1:40 am Sri Lanka time, 10 long hours away from our noon check-in at Ceylon Tea Trails. At the airport we were lucky to have chanced upon a tour agency from which we secured a driver and transport for our entire trip — something we’d left to chance because we didn’t have time to look for one before leaving for Sri Lanka. We told them we wanted to experience Sri Lanka’s famed scenic train rides, so they suggested taking the train from Kandy to Hatton, and that our driver, Pali, would meet us there.
Had we not chanced upon them, we would’ve taken a longer and less scenic route….and probably would’ve gotten lost along the way!
So off we went to Kandy Railway station. We arrived at 5 am, but our train was scheduled to arrive only at 9 am. With time to kill, we went about exploring sleepy Kandy city. We walked along the Kandy Lake, saw the famed Sri Dalada Maligawa Temple (also known as Temple of the Tooth), and experienced Kandy in its bustling Monday morning peak hour rush.
Wanting a more “authentic” Sri Lankan train experience, we bought 2nd class tickets. I imagine 3rd class would’ve been more interesting, but we felt we weren’t “seasoned” enough. Onboard the train, it was a real challenge to stay awake because we hadn’t slept for more than 24 hours since we woke up at noon on departure day!
Somewhere in the middle of our 2.5-hour journey, I got paranoid thinking we might’ve have taken the wrong train, or missed our stop. Prior to boarding, we had tried to check how many stops away Hatton was, but nobody seemed sure of what we were asking, or perhaps how to answer. I think in Sri Lanka generally most people can speak English, but the level of proficiency probably differs with the area. In Colombo I found they were very proficient, but not so in Kandy. It actually looked like we were the only foreigners in Kandy up until the arrival of the train — that’s when we finally saw other foreigners boarding.
We tried our luck again on the train, zeroing in on a young Sri Lankan chap sitting opposite us who looked like he might know English. A quick check with him put my worries at ease — we were on the right track!
Ceylon Tea Trails, Hatton
It took us 14 long hours in total (including our 4-hour flight from Singapore to Colombo) to get to Ceylon Tea Trails but once we did, all manners of lethargy vanished — all because of this AMAZING sight:
Having been on the road for so long, we took the first day to rest and just stayed within the bungalow premises, marvelling at the scenery. We learnt that no keys were issued for our room unless requested — this was to make guests feel like they were at home. We were a bit apprehensive about the concept but went along with it, and was later after our stay grateful to find that nothing went missing.
Probably the first to die in cold weather, I was afraid it was going to be cold up in the mountains but it was in fact a cool and relaxing low to mid 20’s deg C during the day, which was just perfect. At night temperatures dropped further — no fans or air-conditioning needed — but nothing thick comfy blankets and lots of cuddles couldn’t solve!
Because Singapore is about 3 hours ahead of Sri Lanka, we found ourselves waking up ridiculously early in Sri Lanka — as early as 5am, which meant we had more time to do stuff and was probably the reason time seemed to go by slower.
On the morning of Day 2 we arranged to go for the Tea Experience, which is a tour of one of the tea factories in the area. The tour takes you on the journey from tea leaf to tea cup — basically showing you how tea is grown, plucked, processed, packed, auctioned and sold. It’s really quite amazing how much work goes into a simple cup of tea! It was somewhat a reminder of how we shouldn’t take even the seemingly simple things in life for granted.
We were glad we went for the Tea Experience early in our stay because through it we had a newfound appreciation for tea, and were able to better appreciate the tea served to us every mealtime — swirling the tea in our mouths a little longer before swallowing — adding to our entire Tea Trails experience.
Because at Ceylon Tea Trails you can have your meals pretty much wherever you want, we chose to have our lunch this time at Castlereagh bungalow, another Tea Trails bungalow located across the reservoir from Summerville. We had the option to get there either via tuk-tuk or boat, and without a heartbeat we chose the latter! We’d been marvelling at the view of the reservoir and the mountains beyond it ever since we got here, so deciding to take a boat across was a no-brainer, really.
One of the activities guests can do at Ceylon Tea Trails is to explore the other bungalows. They’re all preserved colonial bungalows, but each and every one of them has a different interior and character. Guests sometimes plan their stay such that they get to stay in each one of the four bungalows. You could also take a hike/bike up into the tea trails but it rained after lunch and into the evening, so we could do none of those. Instead we ended up taking an extremely satisfying nap in the cool weather, awaking only to have our evening tea and scones by the reservoir.
It again rained in the afternoon, and I was starting to feel a little anxious because this was the last day we could go trekking into the tea trails before leaving for Induruwa the next day. Fortunately the rain stopped, and we left almost immediately. Pradeep, the butler, equipped us with some salt to fend off leeches and we were on our way. We only had about two hours before dark, so we had no choice but to go for the shortest trail.
Typically the trail would’ve taken an hour to complete, but because we were stopping every now and then to take pictures, we took almost double the time. The trail back to the bungalow was quite steep — I wonder how we would’ve made it back down if we had chosen to go by bicycle. It was already getting dark and had started to drizzle again, so we had to be extra careful. When we finally made it back to the bungalow, we were so impressed to see Pradeep waiting out on the driveway to receive us with umbrellas! Such sincere service!
I dreaded to take off my shoes because I’d felt something like ant bites and somehow knew I’d find leeches in there. Yet I couldn’t wait to get them off! I was just so grossed out I just froze, and couldn’t bear to look! True enough, Pradeep found THREE leeches stuck to my foot! He had to pepper the bloodsucking leeches with salt before plucking them off of me. Where was Faz in all of this? Laughing at me and videoing my high-pitched squeals, apparently. Pfft.
Three days of bliss had gone by, and the time had come for us to move on to the next leg of our honeymoon in Induruwa. We were sad, but didn’t exactly mind leaving because we were already blessed with an amazing time here at Ceylon Tea Trails.
We didn’t get to check out the other bungalows (except for Castlereagh) because of the weather, but in all honesty we were actually quite contented to have stayed put in Summerville. In our itinerary we had planned trips outside of Ceylon Tea Trails to nearby Kandy, as well as the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage but this place was so beautiful, service top-notch — the butlers were attentive without ever being intrusive, every meal a titillation for the palate that we literally couldn’t bear to tear ourselves away.
I haven’t spoken about the food, have I? Every single gourmet morsel that went into our mouths while we were here was delicious. We had enquired about halal food prior to booking, and while they said it could be arranged, we still chose to stick to seafood just in case. At Ceylon Tea Trails we were served breakfast (you could have it Sri Lankan or English), a 3-course lunch, afternoon tea and cakes, and a 4-course dinner. Our chef would discuss every single meal with us beforehand. He would suggest the menus, but we were free to change it up however we liked. We absolutely loved everything we ate here.
Apparently Sri Lankans are big on bread — there are bakeries everywhere in Sri Lanka! We had freshly baked bread to accompany all our meals, which we found great pleasure in. Who doesn’t love freshly baked bread?
Some Singapore-style food pics to make you salivate:
Check-out, as was the check-in, was a breeze — there was nothing we had to fill in or sign, no bills we had to pay because we had paid for our stay in full beforehand, and there were no hidden costs. When we left, all the butlers saw us off, which was a very nice gesture but made leaving a little harder.
Ceylon Tea Trails was the PERFECT place to spend our honeymoon. We couldn’t have been happier.
The drive back down to ground level took us almost 2.5 hours! We were circling down on narrow, bumpy roads which made Faz feel a little sick, but once we were on the ground he was okay.
Coming up in my next post, Part 2 of our Amazing Sri Lankan Honeymoon!
And so Faz and I have been married for…..TWELVE days now! It literally feels like our wedding was just yesterday. Guess time flies when you’re having fun!
Now that we’re back to the humdrum routines of Singapore life after our honeymoon, I’m experiencing all sorts of withdrawal symptoms. I miss the chaos of last minute errands, the busy chatter of family and friends who came by to help, our gorgeous wedding reception and of course, our freaking amazing Sri Lankan honeymoon.
It all feels like a sweet dream that ended too soon!
Alhamdulillah, God had mercy on us and gave us a wedding that surpassed all our expectations. I didn’t think it was possible, but I have NO major complaints! It’s just indescribable, the feeling you get when you see your years of planning and hard work come to beautiful fruition. Thinking about it makes me want to weep in joy and gratitude.
Having said that, there were still in fact a couple of hiccups before our nikah ceremony on Friday, 25 October 2013, that made us MEGA antsy:
- We didn’t know we had to fetch our Kadi — nowhere was this explicitly written or mentioned to us until he called Faz, who was already reaching Assyafaah mosque in Sembawang from Pasir Ris. One of his best men had to make a U-turn and fetch him from Tampines. He did mention in the teleconversation a couple of days prior what time he would be done in Tampines and even gave the address, but he didn’t explicitly ask to be fetched, and so Faz thought it was just for general information so that we could anticipate what time he would be arriving. It was a case of miscommunication, plain and simple.
- Faz’s dad, together with the entire entourage travelling by chartered bus, found themselves lost!
- When our Kadi finally arrived, I realised my brother, who was to be one of our two witnesses, was missing. My mother managed to contact him, and discovered he had forgotten to bring his IC, so he was on the way back to our place in Woodlands to retrieve it. I blame myself for this because in my business, I forgot to remind him as well. But I have to thank our Kadi for covering up by delivering the nikah sermon first.
Once we overcame these hiccups, Alhamdulillah it was all smooth sailing. My dad gave me away. Both he and Faz were calm and composed, and it was a one shot, one kill.
Some pictures from the nikah that were captured by our freelance photographer friend Zulkifli Abdullah (thank you so much for the quick edit!) which were also played as a slideshow on Saturday’s reception:
After we were done taking photos, we went up to the second floor where our nikah reception was held.
Nikah DIY projects
I didn’t want to spend on bridal chamber decor services because you’re basically going to have to return all the fixtures, so it was a full-on DIY project. To make things more challenging, once the queen bed went into the room, I didn’t have much space for much else. I had so many things, I didn’t know where to start. My girlfriend Su had to come by and literally tell me step by step what to do! With her help, I managed to throw away a lot of things and stow away stuff in the right places.
The night before the nikah, my bedroom was still not ready. Another close girlfriend, Seri, stayed past 1am and together we fixed my quilt cover, steam-ironed it and vacuumed my room. This was the final result:
On the morning of the nikah, we also put together these amazing bunga rampai:
Next I’ll be blogging about our Orchidville reception, vendor reviews and our fabulous Sri Lankan honeymoon, but meanwhile if you’re that curious or can’t wait that long, you can browse our official Instagram wedding hashtag, #decadeoflove2013, to see instant snippets of our nikah, our Orchidville reception and our honeymoon!
Till the next post! :)
Before anyone starts thinking I have bipolar disorder for being angry and clueless in one post and so cheery and forward-looking in another, I was actually in the midst of completing this entry when the Grassroots Club dropped the bomb on us. Since it’s already written, I thought I might as well just publish it because I really did feel happy albeit in a moment that has already passed — but will come again, I’m sure.
In a holiday mood yet again because we just booked our second honeymoon accommodation in Sri Lanka!
For this second accommodation, we were looking out for beachfront hotels so that we could wake up to views of the Indian Ocean.
The Bentota area in Sri Lanka is popular for their beaches, but I couldn’t really find any hotels there that suited my taste. There were lots of beachfront properties with amazing views of the ocean, but none with interiors that blew me away. By the same stroke, the hotels we found with interiors to die for weren’t as close to the beach as we’d hoped.
We did come close to making a reservation for two nights at Paradise Road The Villa Bentota, a gorgeous 19th century property that was converted into Sri Lanka’s first boutique hotel back in the 1970s by the late world-renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa, that recently got refurbished again by Sri Lankan design guru Shanth Fernando.
I love the interior of this hotel! It fuses old charm with contemporary design, and the end result is a space that exudes so much character. But then again I may just be biased because I’m a sucker for anything that has a story behind it. You could spin a little history around a product out of thin air and I’d probably buy into it.
This gorgeous property faces the beach, but its rooms don’t open out to the sea. They open out to the gardens, which is really not bad an option, but it’s not what we originally wanted.
Lucky thing we weren’t so quick to settle, because I decided to check out other beaches nearby Bentota, and chanced upon Temple Tree Resort & Spa, Induruwa. Now this became an instant contender because it offered us uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean!
The interior is a far cry from that of The Villa Bentota, and is in fact rather basic, but fortunately in a way I thought was tasteful.
For a while we were at a loss with the two options but we slept on it and finally decided after that to go with Temple Tree Resort & Spa. The Villa Bentota is gorgeous, but we just couldn’t pass up on the Indian Ocean. The cheaper option of the two, it just seemed like the more appropriate option since we’ll only be staying in one of the two days anyway.
So two hotels down, one more to go! The last one will be nothing fancy, just a place to crash after shopping in Colombo before we head home (and face reality, ha-ha).
I’m almost at my wit’s end here.
A while ago, Farhana from Kahwin Khronicles posted that my wedding venue, the Grassroots Club, will be undergoing renovations this year. I had zero knowledge of this and was shocked to learn of it. I quickly called our Grassroots Club liaison and he assured me that the renovation of the function rooms that we booked will be completed by mid August, and if for any reason the completion is delayed, they will move us to their multi-purpose hall, which by then would have turned into a ballroom.
I hated the uncertainty. I hated the fact that we wouldn’t know how our venue was going to look like. Renovating the place doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to like it better. Who knows what colours or patterns they’re going to choose?
And then to make things worse than they already were, yesterday I received a call from Nurin (a friend of mine who had booked the same exact venue) followed by Faz, telling me that they had been dropped THE bomb. The function rooms will not be available for rent anymore because they are going to lease it to some tenant, and that they would have to reallocate us to the multi-purpose hall, which will NOT be renovated into a ballroom till next year!
I just flipped. There are bloody reasons why I chose their function rooms over the MPH in the first place, and now you’re giving me the very place I didn’t want!
I can accept the clause in the terms of agreement that states that they reserve the right to reallocate us in the event that our venue becomes unavailable for whatever reason.
But what I cannot accept is: WHY COULDN’T THEY HAVE INFORMED US EARLIER?!
I had to find out from someone else! According to Farhana, they had started to turn down bookings late last year. Why couldn’t they have informed us about the possibility of renovations then? We could have the option to look for another venue if we wanted! We’re only five months away, and for Nurin, only four — where the F can we find other venues at such short notice?
@#%*!?&%^ man, seriously.
I am dead set on not having my wedding at their unrenovated MPH. I don’t settle, so if we don’t find another venue that we like in the next few weeks, Faz and I have decided to downsize our wedding. We will just nikah, throw a simple lunch or dinner for 400 immediately after, either at the mosque or at home, and be done with the whole thing in 4 hours max.
No sanding, no elaborate decor, no multiple outfits, no photobooth, no kompang. I can’t deny it’ll suck a little because I’ve invested so much time researching, getting ideas, acquiring quotations and writing on this blog, only to have them turn to dust. But we’ll be off to Sri Lanka for our honeymoon after that, and have loads of unspent moolah in our banks. Sounds way better than having to settle, if you ask me.
So my dear BTBs, keep your eyes peeled on this space because I might be selling away some of the packages that I’ve signed up for at a discount!
To say I’m overwhelmed with work right now would be putting it so mildly you can’t even imagine.
It’s coming to the end of the financial year for us and over at the office everyone’s trying to finish everything that got stuck in the pipeline because of the implementation of stricter procurement policies.
It’s like firing a gun with a knotted barrel — everything just blows up in your face.
Thanks a lot for the grief, Brompton bikes.
Actually the reverberations of this might very possibly carry on through April. This basically means I’ll be out of the wedding prep scene till after April because I’ll have neither the time nor the energy to do it. I do so much work at the office. The last thing I want to do when I get home is more work: scouting for favours, designing the invites, and all the other things I don’t even know I have to do — yet.
There’s been zilch progress since my last update on the change in photographer, and this scares me. To make things worse, I’m also back to square one with Project Wedding Body, because when I get back from work I’m usually so tired I just crash. After April, I’ll be left with a mere 5 months to achieve my ideal weight and I’ll be counting on my old friend Desperation to get me there. Usually people will only scramble to their feet and come through when they’re desperate, no?
Amidst all this chaos I find that I do have the time, however, to dream up our honeymoon because it feels less like work, and let’s just say I NEED images of the picturesque Nuwara Eliya in my mind to keep me sane at this point.
The only good thing that came out of March was probably the boyfriend’s birthday. I say “probably” because I’m still sitting on the fence about whether I can classify this as a good thing, especially since it’s also a reminder that our biological clocks are ticking.
No fancy schmancy gifts for him this time because we made a mutual agreement ever since we got engaged that we should just save the money for marriage. So what’s there left to do but get creative? The last time, I made him a pop-up card and a video montage of birthday wishes from family and friends.
This year, I baked him a rainbow cake. It was far from perfect as you can see, but he claims it was delicious. Well I can only hope he was telling the truth….
I also had a go at making two other desserts this month: tiramisu and molten chocolate cake. The only reason I had time to make them was because my department chose dessert-making as our team-bonding activity.
Well on my way to being a domestic goddess, you think?
Anyway I really hope the situation at work clears up soon — for Faz as well. Both of us have been so incredibly busy that we haven’t been talking on the phone or meeting up as often as we used to. To better months ahead!
Instead of wedding prep, all I ever seem to want to do these days is…..GOOGLE HONEYMOON DESTINATIONS!
One place that has always, always cropped up in honeymoon talk ever since I can remember is….Turkey. My friends aren’t surprised I picked Turkey. Apparently Turkey “is sooo you“, they say. I’m interested to know how they came to that conclusion, though. Do I have Turkey, like, written all over my face?
I’m not quite sure why I’m drawn to Turkey myself. I haven’t had much opportunity to travel growing up, but when I do get a chance hopefully in the near future, visiting modern cities isn’t exactly on top of my list.
I guess I’m drawn to places that offer a different cultural experience and an escape from urban life.
A honeymoon on some remote island would no doubt be an escape but I doubt I’d enjoy it that much. With me not being able to swim and all, I’d be doing next to nothing on an island honeymoon. (Note to self: Learn to swim, fool!)
A place like Turkey has so much to offer in terms of its people, culture, arts, history, scenic natural landscapes, and food — no problems finding halal food here, which is great!
I’m really looking forward to reveling in the beautiful ancient architecture, staying in a cave hotel, hot air ballooning over the gorgeous landscape of Cappadocia, dipping in the travertine pools in Pamukkale, and ending it with a stay at one of the beaches on the Aegean Coast — Antalya, Marmaris, Oludeniz, Calis, Bodrum….I can’t decide which!
But there is a dilemma.
I haven’t done the full research yet but judging from the currency conversion and hotel rates, I’m thinking it may be out of our comfort zone to go for a Turkey honeymoon immediately after the wedding. We would’ve spent a fair bit for the wedding, and we think it would be more sensible to replenish our reserves a bit more first.
Another justification for putting Turkey on hold is the weather! It’ll start to get cold in October, and winter lasts right up till April. Just so you know, I can barely survive air-conditioning. A good time to go weather-wise would be sometime from May to September, which also means it’s the high season — hotel rates will be at their highest. You can’t have it all I suppose, but if you were to spend on anything, might as well make it worthwhile.
We could actually wait till May to go, but by the wedding we’ve anticipated that we’ll be itching for a getaway so bad that we’re thinking to go for a short one somewhere nearer to home and less expensive. Friends tell me I should just put the money in the Turkey fund. But…but…I haven’t gone on a holiday for yonks to save up for marriage, leh! The boyfriend on the other hand, has managed to visit China and Cambodia during this time. How unfair! Fortunately for him they were both family trips, so I couldn’t retort…
Anyway after a very intense examination of Southeast Asia on my globe, we decided that Sri Lanka would be an interesting place to go.
At first we weren’t really sure about putting Turkey on hold, but Faz already had to choose his 2013 leave slots the other day so we had to make a decision fast. In the end, we decided that we should take a week’s leave before the wedding to tie up any loose knots — which we expect to be many — as well as a week after the wedding, for our honeymoon. This pretty much cemented the fact that Turkey had to wait because there was absolutely no way we could be done with Turkey in just one week (his leave slots are in blocks of one, or two weeks max).
Also known as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean”. To me, Sri Lanka seems a little off the beaten track because I rarely hear of people honeymooning there. Obviously there are people who do, but I don’t personally know anyone who has, and this makes it even more mysterious.
After reading up about Sri Lanka, I really do think it’s one of the gems in Southeast Asia. There are so many things to be done in one place! You get all these scenic, historical landscapes, and all these awesome activities like taking a train ride through the lush valleys, tea-picking in Nuwara Eliya, going on a jeep safari in one of Sri Lanka’s many national parks, and visiting a turtle hatchery and releasing baby turtles into the sea, among many other exhilarating experiences.
There is some concern about weather during this period though because it’s the monsoon season. I gather from research the monsoon season doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to rain torrentially for days. It’s much like Singapore’s monsoon season, where it could be raining just a couple of hours a day, or maybe even no rain at all on some days. But we’re willing to take our chances.
Of course these are just plans, subject to budget (god, don’t you just hate that word?), time, and so on.
So there. Now that I’ve let off some steam, I hope I can finally function normally and resume wedding prep!