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Next trip: Sri Lanka & Maldives. Need help from the travel gods.

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Finally (and hopefully) all caught up with the hideous jet lag from our Japan trip. What an amazing experience, I must say! It was made all the more fantastic by our shared time with the beloved smeagol and Muffin. In the past, I've been apprehensive about trying to fuse travel journeys -- given how so individual all of us are in our travel preferences. But traveling with both of them was a revelation! We had such a fantastic time and I can honestly say that David's and my experience was enhanced by our time with them. We really are birds of a feather! The weather and koyo gods blessed every moment of our trip in Japan. Two days of rain out of 14 weren't all that bad. The pictures alone are some of the most magnificent of all our travels to-date! The colors...oh, those colors!!

That said, you know it wouldn't be me if I wasn't already working on the next trip well within the first 2 weeks of being back! It's been clear to me that -- before our big anniversary blowout of 2015 (Africa) -- we had one final stop on the SE World Tour we still needed to get to. That's always been Sri Lanka in my mind (to me, it's India "light" -- as we're working our way up to India eventually!) And so that will be where we head in December of next year.

So, as you can imagine, I have a bunch of questions. I really look to Kathie, Craig, Tara_M, annhig, and the innumerable other experts on the board who have been before to help guide and make this a most magnificent and memorable trip. First off, the basics:

*We'll be doing 10-11 days in Sri Lanka and then 4 nights in Maldives: does that seem an adequate amount of time for both? Seems the right balance to me.

*I've seen so many reccos for drivers. This is the only (if there is one) area that gives me anxiety. Are we "safer" going with one driver over another? Should we go through an agency for this just for accountability's sake?

*4 nights in the Maldives seems like it'd limit us to only one resort, which I'm fine with. But, I've heard many here recommend against one resort. I can't imagine spending more than 4 nights at the beach (especially at that cost) and I also can't imagine moving resorts after only 2 nights.

*December is the only time we can go work-wise. I hear that, even though technically it's 'high season' in Sri Lanka, it's still shoulder season as far as weather goes. Does that limit anywhere we might be able to/want to go? Just trying to focus our destinations should weather be a serious enough factor.

To that effect, here are the places we're most interested in seeing in Sri Lanka:

-Dambulla/Sigiriya/Cultural Triangle
-Tea/Hill Country

A few worthwhile mentions:
*Yala (would love to see but given we're going to Africa in 2015 I could probably live without it)
*Colombo (only would use this as an overnight to and from the airport. Have heard such unflattering things in various Trip Reports about it.)
*would love to see Sri Lankan beaches (Arugam, etc.) but given the Maldives as part of our itinerary, it seems redundant

Is there anywhere we should be thinking of going in SR that we're not covering?

Thanks in advance!! ...and hope I'm not trying to cover too much ground in one thread. If so I'll split these into Sri Lanka and Maldives threads.

So very much looking forward to planning this trip. Been wanting to do this trip for almost 5 years and excited to finally be making it happen!

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