A little trip to Sri Lanka 1st-14th April 2012.
01.04.2012 - 14.04.2012 30 °C
Day 1-2 2/4/12
We left for our flight to Colombo at 6am from holiday inn heathrow. We were slightly delayed so ended up taking off about 11:20am. After a flight with the most rude cabin crew ever we arrived in Colombo at about 2am. We got a taxi and went to the hotel Nathalyia, not far from the airport. It was fine for our stay for one night. We got up in our own time and went down for breakfast, we used a spoon as a knife which was interesting! I had a bit of cereal and some toast, James was onto the eggs and spicy sausage!! James spoke to his uncle and soon Dilanjan his driver was at the hotel to pick us up. He drove us into Colombo which took about an hour. We got dropped at the Fort and had a wander around. The police station was very interesting as the officers sleep in, so you could see all their bunks in the window. We had a walk round, saw the old lighthouse and went for a coca cola and a cake. Of course I ended up with the wrong cake, but it was chocolate so all good!
After we went to their world trade centre and had a look in the gem shops and went to the loo as the toilet in the cafe was Out of order. From the trade centre we jumped in a tuk tuk and went on a city tour. I love a good tuk tuk ride! I loved the sites, particularly the temple on the lake where I could take lots of lovely photos. We then stopped at various places around the city.
We then went back to the fort area to meet David at the Cinnamon grand hotel, before we met we fitted in a cheeky massage. James went for the back energiser and I had a foot scrub. It was A-Mazing! I felt like I was then walking on air, think we'll go again the day we leave!
We met David and his driver and we drove a little out of the city centre and went to a restaurant called the Bayleaf. David kindly treated us to dinner. J and I both had squid to start and then pasta for main. It was delicious, however the evening was spoilt by those mozzies that seem to love me. At the moment my ankle is all swollen and I have a great set of bites down my leg! We headed back to David's, it took over an hour. We met the dog and cats and the mountains of boxes ready for their move to Bangladesh, I can't believe how much stuff they have. We chatted and went on the net to sort accommodation for next couple of nights and then David generously gave up his bed for the night, it was baking in that bedroom!
Day 3 3/4/12
We got up at 7am and got sorted and David's driver was ready for the road trip to Kandy. We headed out of Colombo and stopped for an elephant ride and we gave Pooja (our elephant) a bath in the river, we scrubbed her with a coconut shell. After this we climbed on her back in the river and went for a short ride. The keeper wasn't impressed with his tip! We looked at the little museum and then got back into the car and drove to pinnewala elephant orphanage. We walked down to the river and were presented with loads of nellies having fun in the river. The baby ones kept laying down and rolling, so cute. We had a drink and watched them over the restaurant balcony. They the herded them up, set off the sirens and then they all walked up the street back to the orphanage, so surreal! We followed them up the street and had a little look around. We sore the poorly ones, one didn't have a full leg and another had sores on his tummy. We then got back in the car and headed to Kandy. We arrived to the rain and struggled to find the hotel...when we did find it they were very friendly. We got a tuk tuk down to the lake area, went to a restaurant and had mountains of food, James had traditional curry and I had noodles. There there was so much! We then walked along the lake, the rain cleared a bit so we went into the temple grounds. It was very beautiful. For 5:30pm we went to the dance show, Kandian dance. It was good, dancing, fire show, walking on hot coals. We then walked the streets of Kandy, bought some Barft (Sri lankan sweets), tasted like barf (sick) as it sounded! We went to the 'pub' and had banana fritters and a drink. We were exhausted, so ready for an early night.
Day 4. 4/4/12
Got up about 7ish and took time getting ready, had a shower and then had some scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast. We headed off in Ravi's van for the long mountainous journey to Ella. First we went to the pharmacy to get some tablets for my swollen chankle and then onto the cemetery. That was beautiful. From there to the gem makers where we felt very awkward and were nearly persuaded to buy a ring, it was hard walking away saying 'no'!
I struggled to stay awake at all during the journey. We stopped at a tea factory, looked at how tea is made and the different types. We then had some lunch. Same as yesterday, I had noodles again and James had the curry. It was very good.
We finally arrived in Ella about 4ish, and had a cuppa as it was chucking it down with rain. When the rain calmed down we then went for a walk around Ella, only took about 5mins as its only tiny. We've tried traditional dishes tonight, I had masala thosai with veg curry and James had Chicken koththu rotti. Tomorrow we plan to get up early and walk to mini Adams peak and make our way south to Tissa, ready for the 4:30am get up on Friday for Yala safari!
Day 5. 5/4/12
I ended up sleeping with socks and joggers on as I was pretty chilly in bed. The fleece blanket wasn't enough. Before we went to sleep we could hear gun shots which was pretty scary and then was woken about 3am by howling dogs. We got up just after 7am and had breakfast and then went on a little walk/trek up mini Adams Peak in Ella. It took about an hour to reach the top and was a little risky for me in flip-flops, but I made it! Everyone else walking was wearing trainers or boots. On the way back down I was bursting for the loo, thankfully I made it to the little cafe half way run by a 16yr old boy who liked cameras and i phones! We walked back to our hotel 'sooraya' and got our stuff together and left in the car. First we went back on ourselves to Dowa Temple, carved from rock. 15monks live there and it's 2500years old. We left and headed towards Tissa, stopping at Rowana waterfalls. There were some really cool monkey's hanging around near the waterfalls. On our way there was a huge monitor type lizard wandering across the road. Couldn't believe the size of it, I've never seen a lizard that big in the wild before. It was incredible! We arrived in Tissa about 2pm, got showered as it was sooo hot and then decided to head to Kirinda. We got in a tuk tuk and he took us to a temple, we were hoping for a restaurant as we hadn't eaten since breakfast. Instead we were blessed in a Buddhist temple by karishna, yes, that's right, the Hindu god! The temple looked over the ocean which was beautiful, but it was a bit random and we were starving. We headed back to the hotel in Tissa and hoped to get some lunch. The hotelier sent us to the hotel across the road and we ordered some water, we then decided there was no Sri Lankan food on offer so we left...we ended up with some tuc type biscuits and lemon puffs and waited for the restaurants to open at 7pm...got a little holiday snooze in ;-)
We set off for dinner, with a big language barrier between the tuk tuk lad and us. We drove around the town twice and then reached our lonely planet restaurant recommendation! I had ginger fish and James ordered a selection of Sri Lanka curry. There was loads of food, not enough however to refuse a nutella pancake for dessert. We went back to the room and got sorted for the safari in the morning.
Day 6 6/4/12
We got up at 5am, jumped in the jeep, still in the dark and headed towards Yala. We were driving around a while, we saw a crocodile cross the road, lots of birds, lizards, cows bathing. We came across a male elephant hanging around! We stopped off at the sea for our breakfast back up that consisted of 2bananas, honey sandwiches and 2 hard boiled eggs. The driver told us that 47 people had been killed right where we were during the tsunami. From there we drove away and saw the most amazing scene, an elephant bathing in a lake if lillies, it was wonderful. I was feeling so lucky, what an awesome experience.
On the way out of the park we saw more iguanas and birds. Back at the hotel we got showered and then we were picked up and driven to Unawatuna. On the way i got the driver to stop along the road side, there were stalls selling wicker bags, so i bought 2 bags. I gave the lady her first asking price for the bags and told her to keep the change. The smile that stretched across the young girls face was such a pleasure to see. We arrived at the hotel Flower Garden and we have a nice cabana in the gardens. As it is called 'the flower garden', its really colourful with flowers and plants all around. We relaxed by the pool for a bit and had a drink. In the evening we walked along the road to find somewhere to eat, I had lobster, it was very nice. This was followed by our traditional holiday game of travel scrabble!!
Day 7. 7/4/12
We got up in our own time as we'd had an early morning previously for the safari. We had breakfast, starting with a delicious fruit platter of papaya, watermelon, passion fruit, banana and pineapple. We then got eggs and toast too, I had an ommette and James had fried, it came looking like a pair of boobies! We sat around the pool for a while, it was too hot in the sun though. We met a couple from the Uk who live and teach abroad in Qatar, sounds great...got me thinking again!
We then went down to the beach and had some lunch. We sat right on the beach front, it was beautiful. The waves were coming right up to the restaurant and up to people's sunbeds. A load of people had their shoes washed away which was pretty amusing! We had a drink and then strolled back to the hotel. A couple of hours by the pool and then we went in...but there was a power cut for a while. We got showered and changed, sprayed up with mozzie stuff and headed out. We went to a place called Neptune Bay. I had devilled crab, it was lovely, but a bit of a devil! My lips and mouth were on fire! We had a pancake and another drink and then wandered back to the hotel. We had a little wifi check up before heading to bed...
Day 8. 8/4/12
We had the breakfast of fruit and eggs that I think we'll be getting for 6days, lovely as it is! We came across Trevor and Linda, they were going to find somewhere to snorkel for the day. I decided to go to the excursion shop to find out about seeing the turtle sanctuary, and they were in the shop. Soon we found ourselves going to Hikkadua with them and going on a glass bottomed boat. We got sorted quite quick and at 11am we were on our way. We had to bargain for the boat trip, later to find out the man I booked the trip with was a victim of the tsunami. We went on the boat, saw lots of colourful fish through the glass bottom and then went snorkelling. We swam with the turtles which was truly amazing :-)
We had a bit of lunch with Trevor and Linda and I interviewed/recorded the man who survived the tsunami, an unbelievable story. He spent 2years in hospital. A broken skull, legs, ribs, as he was carried under the wave. He's so lucky to be alive, fortunately for him his family live in land so they were fine. We headed back to the hotel in the car, about a half hour drive and sat by the pool a bit. It was pretty cloudy though and soon it began raining pretty heavily. James was in the pool while I had a milkshake in the dry!!
In the evening I put on my nice long black dress only to find myself sitting in a shop eating 'cutti' off a local food trolley! It was pretty hot, I didn't manage it all. We then drank mojitos in the local surfers chill out bar sitting on cushions. It was very relaxed and the mojitos were fab!
Day 9. 9/4/12
I got up early as the bed is hideously uncomfortable, so I did the underwear washing and hung it out in the morning sunshine, I felt like a local washer woman!
We got sorted and went for breakfast....the lovely fruit platter is losing its novelty now! We hung around the pool, chatting to Linda and Trevor and read our books. We had some lunch in the hotel, we ordered burgers...but they were no ordinary burgers. They were delicious and came with veg, no bun, but tomato and a sauce on top. It was really good. We continued to read and the clouds came, both of us finished our books within about 5mins of each other! We decided to visit the turtle hatchery. It was pretty cool, saw the hatching ground, held a baby and looked at the turtles. One had a missing front leg/flipper. The tuk tuk man then easily persuaded us to visit a local lake, it was very nice, then we ended up on a boat! Easily conned tourists! It was good though, the lake was huge and we stopped at 2 islands. On the first was a man making cinnamon from the trees. It was a tiny island with a little house and he had he homemade canoe so he could get to the mainland. He got the cinnamon from the tree, crushed it and made us a cup of cinnamon tea. It was very nice actually...but we didn't buy it! The next island was a Buddhist temple where 25monks live, we wandered around and saw a very young monk, he's only 7. I can't imagine living away from parents with nothing on a tiny island at the age of 7, bad enough being an older monk. We headed back off on the boat and then onto the tuk tuk and headed back to the hotel. We then sampled lots of different fruits at the fruit stall next to the hotel. We tried 4different types of mango!
In the evening we went for dinner at 'The Villa', we tried the fish curry. It came with dhal and other veg dishes and mango and lime chutneys. We were sat just behind a Very irritating English girl, she loved herself and did not stop talking...so annoying when we wanted a nice relaxed meal! We had a fairly early night.
Day 10. 10/4/12
I got up fairly early and sat outside reading my book...the uncomfortable bed is getting to me! I waited for James to emerge from the cabana...of course, he didn't until he was nagged! When he dragged himself from his marathon sleep we went to the restaurant for breakfast. More fruit and today we chose poached eggs. We decided to have a change of scene so we headed down to the beach. We saw a turtle in the sea swimming around, James went to buy goggles to catch a better glimpse. There was a nice breeze on the beach, but the beach sellers became a bit annoying! Trevor and Linda walked by whilst we were with the monkey gypsy. The man with a small monkey who wasn't doing it for money!...Hummmm, of course not. So, we took photos of the monkey and so did Linda. I thought I'd offer him 50rupees as a gesture, he laughed and said 1000!...£5...cheeky man. We then ended up in an argument as he'd said several times that he wasn't there for money. He said 'your life will change'...we're now waiting for the bad gypsy spell to be put on us!
We had prawn salad for lunch, sat with Trevor and Linda...then as if like its timed the clouds came over. We decided to get showered and then go to Galle. There's a little downs syndrome man in the hotel and he has no shoes. He showed us a note which we couldn't understand, but the guys in the hotel said he wants some slippers!...so the tuk tuk man took us to the shoe shop on the way to Galle and we got him some flip flops. We got dropped off at the Fort and had a wander around, it was a really lovely place. We stopped for an ice cream under a tree as it was raining at the tuk tuk ice cream van and looked in the antique and jewellery shop. I bought a garnet stone (my birth stone). We saw the lighthouse and then had a fish pedicure, James and I couldn't stop giggling to start with! There was some bigger fish, 10times the size you get at home for a pedicure. We continued on as it got dark, it was lovely seeing all the old buildings. Then came the thunder and lightening, we were walking down a pitch black street. I gripped James' hand as I was scared, the wind was blowing, thunder claps and the sky lit up. Thankfully we then came across a tuk tuk to take us back to Unawatuna. The drive back was eventful as we were caught in a horrendous storm. The rain was coming down in sheets and the road was like a river. The tuk tuk man was totally soaked through and couldn't see through his little windscreen. Water was coming through the roof and the sides even though the cover was down. We got back to the hotel safely, however, from the tuk tuk to the restaurant we were drenched! The hotel entry was like a swimming pool, we had to wade through the water. The staff were great and on hand with towels though! We had a delicious dinner in the hotel, they give you starter and dessert in the price of the meal...the tomato soup was amazing and then I had a prawn curry and James had a calamari curry...very spicy, but really lovely. The rain just about died out by the time we finished our dinner, so we decided to go back to the room. We found a big puddle on the floor and a wet bed, the hotel were great and they moved us. Within minutes (not enough time to pack) the little men were waiting at our door to move our cases to our upgraded super deluxe room! We settled in rather quickly and then went to bed.
Day 11. 11/4/12
We laid in too long, being very lazy...the bed was more comfortable :-) James popped down to the surf shack and got a surf lesson booked for tomorrow and I went and got a table for breakfast. Another fruit platter, and today I chose fried eggs...I got tits on toast today! Peppercorns as nipples! We relaxed around the pool until about 2pm when we had some lunch. As we sat down to eat our lunch the ground started to move. It made me feel a bit sick, when you feel really drunk! We watched the pond water move from side to side, it went on for about a minute...we then joked about a tsunami! Within minutes we heard about the earthquake on the radio by the pool, measuring 8.8, then a few mins later mention of a tsunami warning. The hotel manager came round and informed us, telling us we'd be safe. I'd got a back massage booked in, so I went up to that...but he didn't give me the full 30mins as he seemed a bit panicked! We then hung around the hotel waiting for something to happen. Most people went upstairs, but we just sat and had a drink wondering whether we should really be upstairs! A bit strange, but being a geography teacher I was feeling a little more excited than I was scared! The hotel guys all secured mopeds away to protect them and we could hear sirens in the street, and a person speaking on a loud speaker which I can only guess was the evacuation notice. James and I naughtily walked out down the hotel path and looked down the path. We were asked several times of we were safe or needed a ride to safety....tuk tuks, bikes. Everyone was heading away with everything with them. We sat around for about an hour, kept checking the news, but nothing was happening. Everyone started emerging from upstairs. We sat by the pool and then went up to the room. I read my book on the balcony and watched the monkeys. James then said he was going to look for monkeys...I started to panic as he didn't come back for ages and took no phone or anything with him. I was really worried, but I knew he'd be fine. As I waited in my towel he wandered in having been swimming!...relief!
We got showered and headed out when we knew it was safe as the warning had been lifted. We walked down the road, everything was closed apart from one jewellery shop and the surf shack. The guy told James his surf lesson would be cancelled and the jewellery man said that in 2004 he lost 7 siblings in the tsunami...these poor people...
We came back to the hotel for food, I had butter fish, veg and rice and James had a mixed seafood pasta, both very nice. I wanted to get some souvenirs from here, but all is closed and tomorrow is a holiday...not looking good for shopping! The only plus point is that I can save some cash!
Day 12. 12/4/12
We got up to a lot of dampness, no sunshine. We went down for the usual breakfast and then had a wander down to see if any shops were open. There was a few open so we bought a few souvenirs and I got a lovely sapphire ring :-) By the time we got back it was time to check out and settle the bill. We've had a lovely stay in Unawatuna, it's now time to head up to Colombo. Tomorrow it's home time :-(
We went up the new road to Colombo, it took just over 2hours to reach the hotel. It was a very cloudy day. We went to our room, which was absolutely huge and left our bags. We were quite hungry and we wanted to see if we could get a massage like the one we had on our first day. For our last couple of days it was the Sri lankan holiday so lots of places were closed, as the massage place was...bit gutted, was looking forward to that! We went to the mood cafe bar for lunch, although it was about 4pm by then. We then got a tuk tuk to a mall, which was rubbish and most of the shops were closed. On our return to the hotel we enjoyed a milkshake on the chessboard in the gardens. It was really beautiful. We went up to the room and almost fell asleep. We had to force ourselves to get showered and changed for the evening...couldn't be bothered! We did in the end and went down and had lightbites in the garden. Cashew nuts and salad. Then it was time for bed...there was no alcohol being served as it was requested for the new year celebrations by the president.
Day 13. 13/4/12
We got up early ish to make the most of our last day. We made sure we had everything ready as we'd have no room from 1pm.
We went down to a magnificent buffet breakfast, there was so much to choose from, fruit, cereal, pastries, meats, doughnuts, full English, curry, pancakes...although we made a poor effort as neither of us had the best stomachs for eating lots!
After our small breakfast we went and sat by the pool, which also looked over the sea. A great place to be....in the whole trip we'd had a real mixed bag of weather, sun, clouds, haze, rain, storms etc. On our last day was the hottest, it was baking! There was no way we could sit out in the sun. The brolly was up and the shade bathing went well! We had a break to check out of the room and have some lunch. We went to the hotel patisserie and had a wrap and some lovely cake! We had éclair and cheesecake, the Sri Lankan's do well with cakes. I'm impressed! We then went back down to the pool...I finished my second book of the holiday. Well done me on the book front! We moved to the lawn, played scrabble and had a drink. Then a big black cloud approached very quickly! At that point we had a shower in the pool changing area (which was actually better than the shower in our room).
We then waited for David and Shelagh to arrive. After debating going to a restaurant somewhere we found that everywhere was closed because of the holiday. We stayed at the hotel. We sat on the lawn listening to the waves. It's a shame as the service was awful! We waited ages for our food, the Sri Lankan's are very laid back when it comes service! After dinner it was time to leave, David and shelagh's driver dropped them home, we said goodbye and then we continued onto the airport. We checked in about 11:30pm and flew at 2am.
Day 14. 14/4/12
Back to reality!...we landed safely at Heathrow after an 11 hour flight. Unfortunately Sri Lankan airways don't come much higher than Easy jet in my airline rankings!!