Every man gets one. This was my chance to take the reigns of our holiday carriage and ride full speed into the best holiday of all time… until…
April 25th 2015 it was “my turn” to pick our annual holiday location, so after the success of Living Colours yoga retreat and its impact on me physically and physiologically, I wanted to expand my knowledge and ability in the art of yoga. Being located close to Bali and not having to leave the country was handy and so Ubud seemed the logical choice. With great food, detox, yoga, mindfulness and peace and quiet it was the easy option, the logical step – But I’d been to Ubud before. Looking further into yoga retreats I discovered Rishikesh,a small town in the northern state of Uttarakhand in India. This looked perfect with many options for accommodation, food, and classes from beginner to the more seasoned yogi, and after making the decision (remember it was my turn) I repeated over and over to Heini “book the flights” until she reluctantly proceded to book the flights to Dehli and I went home to spend some quality time with “Call of Duty”.
After a few minutes into my game Heini called my cell to explain that the flights had been booked – but in my haste to get the tickets before the flights were not available I hadn’t checked the visa requirements for UK passport holders. Alarm bells started to ring as we went called embassies, read websites and contacted friends who traveled frequently to India. This was not going to be easy. After a chat with the embassy in Jakarta it was going to take 5 days and approx. 500 dollars, not including flights there, accommodation, and embassy fees for me to be allowed into the country. Heini, being Finnish could apply online for a small fee with a simple application process that didn’t involve flying to Jakarta. I wondered why it was so difficult for citizens of UK to get the visa, after all didn’t we supply them with essentials such as military aid? Reluctantly I saw it was looking like Rishikesh was going to have to wait. (Now also UK citizens can get online visa but then it was a different story.)
A quick glance at the rules for transit showed that we could maybe transit Dehli airport and head out after a short stop over, but to where would we go? I again called on Mr. Google for flights out of Dehli my game focused on Nepal. I instantly remembered being jealous of our friends who had recently holidayed in Nepal, as an extra plus I had an old roommate and friend who lived in Kathmandu, who I was looking forward to having a beer with. As an additional bonus we read that we could process my visa for india in Nepal and spend a week trecking before heading to Rishikesh only 7 days later! Perfect, I emailed my friend, making sure he was still in Kathmandu and told him we’d be there on the 10th and get the beers in the fridge. I asked Heini to proceed with the booking of flights as they were less than 100 Euro and could get more pricey if we delayed. Heini decided to exercise caution until we had heard from Kathmandu confirming we could crash on his couch, I reluctantly agreed to wait, and posted on Facebook about our plans for holidays.I received a response from my friend in Nepal in the morning, simply “were surviving”, which I thought was a trifle odd. But it became clear when I open Facebook that Nepal was not going to be the best place to spend a week, as the country had just been hit by a huge earthquake causing massive damage and chaos, and the more news that came out of the country meant that it was going to be a while before normal life continued for those effected. Thankfully my friend and his partner were safe, but our reunion was now off.
Calling an airline from an island where the majority of mobile phone conversations consist of “HELLO, CAN YOU HEAR ME?” and “CAN YOU SAY AGAIN, THE SIGNAL IS BAD” is never an easy task. So with a sense of dread I sat and dialled Singapore Airlines. Ironically I was put through to their call centre in Dehli, the operator explained to me what a wonderful city Dehli was, and it was such a shame we wouldn’t be able to visit, but said we could change our flights. The question was where did we want to go? We hadn’t thought at all where we wanted to go, and so felt a little silly asking “where can we go?” “How about Colombo?” came the friendly response. I looked at my wife and we nodded agreement to change our destination for the 3rd time, and I sensed that if this wasn’t the perfect destination I wouldn’t be picking next years destination.
Now I’m not one to say that I’m right all the time, but with political visa restrictions, acts of God, and throwing in some good karma. Changing the flights to Colombo was one of the best decisions we made. Sri Lanka would turn out to be one of the most beautiful and interesting countries I’ve ever visited, particularly being able to experience the “Sri Lankan Viper”.
The Sri Lankan Viper is a perfect beast, capable of speeds over land upto and including 50kph, and over water a lesser 10kph. Locals if lucky sight it once a year. We had the pleasure of its company. Read more about our tour of Sri Lanka this week.