Landing in China Bay
The war is over and civilians can hop Air Force flights now. So I did. Forty minutes to Trinco, I’m swimming off Pigeon Island by noon. It’s pretty cool. I wrote a longer piece about Military Tourism for the Leader, both the Navy and Air Force are getting into it. This is about one experience, on the flight. I bought a ticket from Air Force HQ (opposite Cinnamon Lakeside) the day before. In the morning I show up at 6:30 in Ratmalana and we head into what’s labeled the Colombo Airport. It looks like a train station. Indeed, it feels like air travel from another age.
There aren’t more than ten people in the airport. Everyone is personal and cool. We’re ushered into what looks like some ancient and not especially wealthy auntie’s living room, wooden couches with hideous orange and black cushions. I loll off periodically until we board the flight three hours later.
There’s only five tourists – me and a British journalist, a family of Germans. The rest of the plane is full of military and one businessman. There’s only four window seats on the rugged military transport and I snag one. Once they close the back door the train books it. We just hammer down the runway and into the air, feels like less than a minute has passed. And there we are, see Mount Lavinia, Colombo and then we’re out. It’s stunning views and we’re descending into the bays of Trinco before I know it.
We made friends with the businessman and he takes us out to the site of his hotel. Take his speedboat out to Pigeon Island and swim in the clear cover, then we’re eating lobster on the beach. And I was in Colombo a few hours ago. It’s pretty sweet. Took the bus back, which sucked. Flying really is the way to go. In this militarized state, you might as well go with the Air Force.
Helitours current rates and flights are available on their website. I paid 4k for a one-way to Trinco. Two way is 8k. One way to Jaffna is about 19k.
View full set on Flickr.