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Trip Report Craig and Jeane Sri Lanka Trip Report 2008

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By way of introduction, we are a couple in our early 50’s based outside of Hartford, Connecticut. We have been traveling to Asia and posting on this forum since the year 2000. Typically we travel once a year for about 2-1/2 weeks. Our first trip took us to Thailand. Since then, we have used Bangkok as a base to visit Bali, India, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. In some years we have simply passed through Bangkok on our way to our next destination. In others we spent up to 8 days there.

When we first started traveling to Asia, we were going in the summer around the US Independence day to avoid conflicts with our respective careers – Jeane is a dentist, I am a Financial Advisor. While considering a visit to India in 2005, we concluded that we would only want to be there when the weather was pleasant – during the winter months. As it happened, we found this is also a good time to visit other Asian destinations. So now we take our trips in February around the US Presidents’ Day.

A couple of years ago my perception of Sri Lanka was that of a desperately poor island with absolutely nothing going for it, a complete lack of infrastructure and no upscale accommodation. Nothing could have been further from the truth. At that time I didn’t even know where the country was located.

After last year’s amazing visit to Myanmar it was tough to decide where to go next. I’m not really sure how we actually decided to do Sri Lanka but it was probably that it was reachable from Bangkok and it seemed like it would be different from any place else we have visited. There more I researched it, the more intrigued I became. Last April we redeemed our flyer miles using United’s Star Alliance relationships for the round trip.

Our journey starts at JFK as it has since 2006 when Thai Airways commenced flying directly from New York to Bangkok. The flight departs at 11:30 AM from the spacious and modern Terminal 4. The mid-day departure allows us to drive down from Connecticut early in the morning. We had prepaid valet parking so our arrival at the airport was trouble-free. We were quite early this year, checking in 2-1/2 hours prior to departure. We checked 3 big bags (one empty) to Bangkok and carried on 2 “rollies” and 2 smaller packs. In previous years we were sent to the Swiss Air business class lounge but are pleasantly surprised to see that Thai has switched to the “Oasis” Lounge which is much nicer.

The flight takes off pretty much on time. Jeane and I pass the 17 hours with the usual eating, sleeping, reading, VOD and for me, listening to music with the I-pod feature on my I-phone. We arrive on time in Bangkok at about 5 PM. In previous years there was a separate line for business class passengers at immigration but this year it seemed there was none – it was quite a wait to get through as we ended up in a very slow line.

Our luggage was waiting for us when we reached the carousel and we headed to the terminal lobby where we were met by the AAC Limo rep. We had a great driver who managed to bypass a long line of rush hour traffic by leaving the highway and taking side roads. We still had to pay the two tolls but it only took us a half hour to get to the Shangri-La.

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