So, last week we booked our holiday to Sri Lanka. Originally we had planned to go to Thailand for Ian’s birthday in December, Christmas and New Years Eve but in light of the recent terror attacks in Bangkok we decided to put it on hold as neither of us wished to get blown up on holiday. It seems as though the situation in Thailand is quite unstable at the moment and nobody really seems to knows who the terrorists are actually targeting (or indeed who they even are).
We thought that Sri Lanka would be a good choice not only because of it’s relatively stable political situation but as it’s located in the Indian Ocean the beaches were beautiful and reasonably unspoilt. Also, Sri Lanka has a number of national parks, Buddhist temples, rainforests and an abundance of coral reefs, rare wildlife, safari’s and perfect conditions for water sports and whale and dolphin spotting. Not all destinations in the world offer this much beauty and diversity so it was with much excitement and anticipation that we began planning our holidays there.
Even though Sri Lanka is a small country it still manages to pack quite a lot into it so it was really hard to choose where on the island to go. We had decided that it was very important to us to be on one of the best beaches – one where the sea had perfect swimming and scuba diving conditions, where it wasn’t too rocky and where the sand was soft and bleached white. Eventually we found such a place on the north east side of the island in Nilaveli. The boutique hotel looked amazing and it was located on one of the best and most secluded parts of the beach though it was quite a way away from the only airport on the island Columbo (a 5 hour drive). Nontheless I was willing to make the trip in order to stay there, so we booked a 16 night break there and began researching what we’d do once we got there.
Unfortunately, it didn’t take too long for me to find out that there was a potential nightmare on the horizon..
The north east of Sri Lanka (in contrast to the south of the island) are in there monsoon season in December through to February and it was more then likely that it would be raining everyday there aswell as being very windy and downright miserable. There was no way that we could stomach the idea of escaping England which is mostly always raining and cold to go to a country with rain and flash floods. No Chance.
But our booking once we checked it said in no uncertain terms that they did not allow any cancellations, amendments or refunds.
We had been done up like a kipper.
The level to my anger with myself mainly (for I did not check the monsoon schedule in Sri Lanka before I’d booked), and the frustration that there was absolutely nothing we could do about it now was intense. I felt as though I could scream. I really could not believe something as basic as weather (which was the main reason that we escape London so frequently) had not been researched properly before we’d booked and I started having visions of us sitting in our fineries at an elaborate meal put on for us by the hotel in Sri Lanka on New Years Eve with dark skies, the wind howling and torrential rain pouring down our faces. I was so disturbed by these images that I had nightmares that night.
Alas, I refused to be beat.
Though it was made abundantly clear by Expedia (who we booked the holiday through), that there would be absolutely no cancellations or amendments to the booking I knew that I just had to try and persuade them to reconsider. I considered all of the excuses that I might come up with to plead my case but I decided that my first port of call would be the hotel in Sri Lanka. I figured I’d call them directly and confirm the weather conditions for that part of the island, for if the many articles I’d read online was to be believed it would be raining for the majority of the time we were there. The receptionist confirmed my worst fears without hesitation. Apparently in India (there closest neighbours), and Sri Lanka too I am sure the monsoon season was a thing to be celebrated. Due to the stifling tropical heat of the rest of the year and the suffering of animals and crops because of the draught the monsoon was welcomed with open arms. This was not a concept I was familiar with as I was constantly trying to escape wind and rain in England. Constantly. I did not like wind and rain and I most certainly did not take kindly to cold wind and rain and what was the point of going on a beach holiday when it was raining?
Well when I explained our situation to the hotel they were surprisingly good about it. They understood why I didn’t want to go on holiday to a monsoon destination and they told me they were happy for us to cancel as we were giving them so much advance notice. They told me that if Expedia had any issues with cancelling it they could give them a call and they would confirm this. I was elated. When I called Expedia they spoke directly with the hotel and then cancelled our booking. We didn’t incur any charges. But we had made a package booking and our flights to Sri Lanka did have a penalty of £150 pp. This was insignificant in comparison to the amount of money we would have thrown down the drain had we have been forced to go through with the monsoon holiday from hell as undoubtedly we would have been unable to stay on that side of the island so we’d have to pay for another hotel and transportation to take us there. The cancellation was a flat fee so we could essentially cancel it at any time so we decided to look and see if we could find suitable accommodation on another part of the island using the money we had been refunded by Expedia or if not then paying the £300 cancellation fee and cancelling the whole thing. It soon became clear that the flights were the majority of the budget particularly since we’d upgraded to direct flights. We just couldn’t find any suitable accommodation at this price range.
So we gave up. And decided to go back to Thailand!
Watch this space. And if we do indeed get blown up, blame it on the Sri Lankan monsoon!