So here’s a basic outline of our first day (2 days) getting to/and/around Sri Lanka.
A 14-hour flight from D.C. to Seoul on Korean Air First Class.
A 6-hour layover at the Seoul Airport.
An 8-hour flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Land at 3:15 a.m. and meet our driver, Tillie.
Drive about 3.5 hours in the darkness (and occassional rain) to Dambulla Cave Temples, dodging school children, dogs, tuk tuks, roadside stalls with open fires, etc. all along the way.
Climb 350 very steep, very slippery and uneven stone stairs in oppressive heat and humidity to see said Cave Temples. (no air conditioning, obviously)
Spend $2 to recover in the small but well done (and, more importantly…air conditioned) Cave Temple Museum
Drive 15 minutes or so to Signature Amaya Kandalama and collapse.
Honestly, Signature Amaya Kandalama could have been a roach hotel and I would not have given a flying Fig Newton. I probably still would have declared it the most luxurious and wonderful accommodations ever known to man.
Luckily, it was not a roach hotel. Not at all. It’s pretty upscale for Sri Lanka. It actually reminded me of some of the resorts we’ve stayed at in other tropical locales. In fact, the Sri Lanka National Cricket team was staying there the same time as us (they apparently had a match in Dambulla).
Just in case you were wondering: first class on Thai Airways does not suck. No, actually, I’m even willing to go a step further and say it’s quite nice. Alright, alright, the truth is it was fantastic. Un-freaking-believable.
Oh, and for the record, in general, (and I say this with some expertise now) the first class experience on a foreign carrier overall is leaps and bounds nicer than on a U.S. carrier. Sorry, but it is true. I don’t care if I do cause some diplomatic incident here.
For example, the state of our first class lounges in the U.S. is a national embarrassment and I fully expect Congress to get on this issue immediately. They are a disgrace compared to our international cohorts.
Dear Congress, Do you know that I once spent a wonderful morning in the Turkish Airlines lounge in Istanbul and I swear on all the Real Housewives that they had a mini-theater? Sure, it was showing some philharmonic something-or-other, followed by some nature stuff, but it was a mini-theater, none the less. There was also a pool table. And a hanging honeycomb in the breakfast buffet so you could slice your own pieces of wax and honey and slather them over delicious biscuits and butter. HONEYCOMBS HANGING FROM A STRING, people!
What do American first class lounges offer? Some sad little goldfish snacks and well drinks. (OK, they’re slightly better than that, but not by much.)
But even more delightful than that Turkish Airways lounge (did I mention the honeycomb?) was our experiences as first class passengers on Thai Airways.