Friday, July 5, 2013

Shopping for three lifetimes on just one suitcase in Sri Lanka



Good evening from the southern coast of Sri Lanka, living a never-endingly eventful Travelife.

It's just before pre-dinner cocktails and I'm relaxing in my villa after spending the day puttering the old town of Galle.

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MY LAST FULL DAY SOLO

It was a very pleasant day, and technically my last full day solo as some friends start arriving in Sri Lanka tonight, and they'll be here at my hotel by tomorrow.

Then, the next day, 20 readers and friends are arriving for a few days of fun in Sri Lanka's amazing cultural triangle.

A HOTEL MEANT TO BE SHARED



So I was getting all sentimental last night, about not sharing this wonderful resort with someone. I had it all to myself last night, and this beautiful place just isn't the kind of hotel you should visit alone.

But by this morning I was totally relishing my last day alone.



I had a leisurely breakfast in the dining pavilion, with a full staff in attendance.

I also had a car, a driver and guide, and I could do whatever I pleased. I could've even hopped on a sea plane to the Maldives, if I fancied.

REDISCOVERING GALLE

My lunch came with a glass of really salty lassi

Instead, I went to Galle to walk the picturesque old town, visit some chic boutiques, and have an ayurveda lunch at the Amangalle, which is the Aman hotel inside Galle itself.

I was last at Amangalle about two years ago, and it's still the same lovely place.

I sat on the terrace and ordered myself an ayurveda lunch set, which consisted of about four curries and a plate of red rice.



THE ENJOYABLE BUSINESS OF SHOPPING

Then I went shopping like there was no tomorrow.

I so rarely get an opportunity to shop by myself. 

If you travel with someone, you know the feeling of being conscious of the time, being conscious of making them wait and boring them, and also trying to find a store you both will like -- especially if you're traveling with guys.

In France last month, for instance, I had all of two hours at the Galleries Lafayette in Bordeaux for shopping during the entire trip.



Meanwhile, I had to endure hours and hours in countless vineyards, looking at hundreds and hundreds of barrels in damp cellars. Don't wine barrels all look the same?

Nope, it's not a fair world.

Don't get me wrong.

I like visiting wineries, and I recounted in this blog some of the most interesting visits last month to wineries in Bordeaux, in fact. But we did have to see a whole lot of them, while I only had two hours in a department store.

NO ONE TO PLEASE BY MYSELF



So today, with no one else to think about and a very patient driver and guide, I literally scoured Galle for interesting things for my house.

I ended up buying way too much stuff, considering I only have 30 kgs and a non-expandable suitcase.




Some of my friends are leaving for Sri Lanka on Sunday to join up with me over here.

I'm thinking of asking them to bring one of my empty suitcases with them.

THE PURCHASE OF THE DAY



One of my best purchases today was a trio of candleholders in the shape of a lotus, supposedly made by hand by craftsmen from Kandy in black with gold trim.

I saw these at the KK store in Galle, which is perhaps the most upmarket store in that town. These weren't cheap, but they weren't unaffordable either, so I bit my lip and handed over the credit card.

The regret came when the candle holders were packed. They weighed a ton -- and to think I haven't even hit Colombo yet for shopping.

IMAGINING A DINNER RESULTED IN A TON

As usual, imagination had gotten the better of me.

The following night after arriving from Sri Lanka, you see, I'm hosting a dinner with three ambassadors and their wives as guests, and I just couldn't help thinking how lovely these candleholders would look in my living room for that dinner party.



But today, I thought I'd think about the luggage weight issue later -- such as when I'm at the airport -- and just enjoy this beautiful evening here in Sri Lanka.

I've opened all the French doors of my villa and my terrace looks out onto a jungle with all kinds of animal noises emanating from it.

Practically a safari.

And in front of me are centuries-old trees and greenery that stretch as far as the eye can see, in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.



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