There’s not much to do around Marino beach other than soak up the sunshine and hotel curries (and a good fish curry, plus dhal, chutneys, sambol to coconut, pappadums and a frosted glass of cold Lion lager, served on the ocean side terrace, costs £6). But I highly recommend a nearby stop: The Gallery Café. Housed in the former low house of a famous Sri Lankan architect, resembling a Pompeian villa decorated in licorice-striped colors, this soothing, semi-alfresco bar/art gallery/restaurant serves some of the finest cuisine of the capital, mixing Asian and Western flavors. Try the ultra luxurious prawn and lobster linguine, sublimely enhanced with a subtle hint of chilli. With starters of Caprese salad and chilled white wine, it’s a cracking lunch for two and costs around £25, max.

Now is the time to drive south, 100 miles along the coast to the historic town of Galle. I could take a one-way Uber on the motorway for just £23, but I opt for the more romantic method. The train, which runs along the waterfront, meaning you can spend two hours watching fishermen in loincloths haul silver handallos (think delicious local whitebait) from the comfort of your berth. Fresh-cut pineapple vendors and eager samosa peddlers ply the platforms and cars, so you won’t go hungry either.

And the price ? It turns out that a first class ticket costs me 600 Sri Lankan rupees. It’s £2.50. That’s when I start wondering if there’s a word for “negative shock”: the strange feeling that I’m constantly undercharged.
My next hotel is not cheap in absolute terms. I pay £130 a night for a “deluxe sea view room” at the Grande Galle. But then this is a world class hotel which in normal times can charge £500. That’s because it has an unrivaled location – next to the famous Unesco-listed Galle Sea Walls, and also because it offers top-notch hospitality, high-density Japanese toilets. tech (which automatically open as you approach, like some kind of hungry porcelain crocodile) to a sybaritic pool overlooking the crashing waves, lashings of Sri Lankan art, Sri Lankan hardwood and excellent service Sri Lankan (and, by the way, an epic feast of Sti Lanka mud crab curry, for around £8).