Saturday, April 9, 2011

Saturday at the Aman hotel in Galle


Good evening from Galle, a beautiful 17th century Dutch fort in the southern part of Sri Lanka that's just amazingly intact. I'm writing this on my Mac in the salon of the Amangalla hotel right inside the fort itself. The Amangalla was once the governor's residence, but a few years ago it was converted into an ultra-luxury boutique hotel that's part of the Aman group.

I began my day with a nice breakfast by the sea at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo. Again, it's a lovely colonial hotel -- Sri Lanka seems to have no shortage of such historical hotels -- that's incredibly historic. I was walking around the hotel earlier and I couldn't help but marvel at the many important personages over hundreds of years who have stayed here. It's one of the oldest grand hotels in the world, and perhaps the first grand hotel in Asia, beating other famous names like the Oriental in Bangkok, the Raffles in Singapore, the Imperial in Tokyo and the Manila Hotel by at least a few dozen years.

BEAUTIFULLY FURNISHED HOTEL

The Amangalla isn't in that league yet as it's a fairly new hotel, but I can imagine that this would be the hotel of choice for luxe travelers visiting Galle. Unlike many other Aman hotels, which are more resorts for R&R, it's a town hotel with a scaled down list of services. Even the restaurant menu is very pared down. However, it's beautifully-done with antiques and accents, as you will see from the photo of the Travelife team in the Aman living room above.

Galle itself is so picturesque. From the outside it looks like Fort Santiago, but once inside, it's an entirely different world as everything has just been so marvelously preserved. Time has literally stood still here, and it's such a treat to walk through its immaculately preserved streets and check out the pretty structures. Many buildings have been maintained on the outside, but inside, a lot of them are now attractive boutique hotels.

ANOTHER SUNSET VIEW

This afternoon, I walked the ramparts of the fort and enjoyed a lovely sunset view of the fort bathed in afternoon light with the sun going down on the Indian Ocean. Too picturesque for words. This view must entrance a lot of other people as well, as there were a couple of other foreigners who'd sat on the ramparts just by themselves, unmoving and looking at the sunset the whole time.

We ended our shoot here with a spiel for me right on the walls. Perhaps I was inspired by the lovely views, but I did my spiels in one take so we had time to relax and take lots of photos. We're getting to the end of our trip and lots of the work is finished, so we have more time to clown around. The guys have started taking lots of photos of themselves while I've had more time to hit the stores and stock up on sarees.

I'm really falling in love with sarees - I've always liked them and I buy a couple every time I'm in India; but it's only here in Sri Lanka that I've discovered how lovely a saree makes a girl feel. It's really all softness and loveliness. And tonight before dinner, I spent a good part of the evening trying on all the sarees I've purchased and mastering the art of folding and draping. And tomorrow, yes, I'm going to get a couple more to wear back home.

One week went by all too quickly here in Sri Lanka. Tomorrow we're on to Bangkok for a bit of R&R and then back to Manila in a day or two. But I hope I can return to beautiful Sri Lanka again soon.


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