We hadn’t planned to go to Bentota. Hell, we hadn’t even planned to go to Sri Lanka! We made the decision after chatting to other travellers in India who raved about it. The night before we left India I posted on Facebook that our next stop was Sri Lanka.
We’d booked two nights’ accommodation near Colombo through Airbnb, but after that our plans were fluid (I like that expression – it sounds like we were laid back rather than slack!) The day we arrived, I got a Facebook message from Iyanka, who I’d met in the UK but is originally from Sri Lanka. He said that he and his wife were in Sri Lanka for a wedding and were staying at the Bentota Beach Hotel for a few days if we were in the area and wanted to catch up. We hadn’t heard of Bentota so I looked it up and discovered that it was only a couple of hours train ride south of Colombo. As we had loosely planned to head south, our fate was sealed!
Iyanka picked us up at the train station (after a bit of confusion due to there being two train stations in the area), and we spent a lovely afternoon with him and Jay at the Bentota Beach Hotel. This hotel was way out of our budget, but we booked in for lunch, which also included use of the pool and the loungers in the garden.
Lunch was a big buffet and, even though we got there at the tail end of lunch time, there were still plenty of delicious local dishes to sample. Afterwards, we swam off a few calories in the pool then lay on loungers under the trees and chatted while we watched the squirrels play. The squirrels were very tame but also very cheeky. One broke a glass when it tipped over while he was trying to get at the dregs of juice at the bottom. He managed to escape without injury – somehow I don’t think it was the first time he’d done that trick!
The garden of the hotel backed onto the beach so we stayed to watch the spectacular sunset from the beach. Then Iyanka and Jay drove us to our (much) cheaper accommodation nearby. It turned out to be a big house that a Russian woman and her Sri Lankan boyfriend were renting. The woman was studying, so to save money they were renting rooms out as a homestay. Most of the other guests were Russians. Our room was fine, but the guests’ kitchen was dirty and ill equipped and the place didn’t have a great vibe to it. It didn’t bother us though as we spent most of our time at Bentota beach exploring the miles of golden sand.
I’m not a big fan of Facebook, but one thing it is good for is facilitating serendipitous (I like that word too – it sounds mysterious, like what it means in a weird way!) meetings while travelling. It is always more interesting to visit new places with local people, and that day turned out to be one of our most enjoyable days in Sri Lanka. In addition, Iyanka and Jay gave us some great tips for other places to visit during the rest of our time in Sri Lanka.