The journey from Colombo to Arugam Bay was around 8 hours. When someone told us this months ago we laughed and said ‘theres no chance we’ll do that in one hit with a toddler’. However, the urge to get to our paradise as quick as possible made us go a bit crazy in the head and we decided to brave the journey, besides, with the amount of luggage we have, going from place to place is a massive effort so we figured we’d prefer to get to one place and stay there for a while. As it turned out, the journey went much better than expected. For about $300AUD we had our own mini van and driver, if we were going to do this we were going to do it in air-conditioned comfort with some space to rest. Rocky is loving his etch-a-sketch at the moment and so this kept him entertained along with the hundreds of stickers we still had, seriously, if you’re travelling with a toddler.. TAKE STICKERS!! We only stopped briefly a couple of times and Ian and I took it in turns to sit and entertain Rocky. We also managed to strap the Ipad to the drivers head rest so that he could Netflix and chill. We were hoping for a long nap but he only slept about an hour and was woken by the sound of me shouting ‘elephant!’ as we drove past a lagoon where a huge elephant was having a bath! Ian was frantically trying to get him back to sleep and we didn’t stop to have a good look as we knew if the car stopped then Rocky really would be awake. As it happened he decided an hour was enough sleep and it was back to toddler entertainment 101. I was just happy we’d seen an elephant, just a shame it was when Rocky was asleep! With enough entertainment, teamwork, and snacks, we made it to Arugam Bay by about 3pm.
We stayed at The Blue Wave Hotel for the first 2 nights, it had a nice big pool and a decent buffet breakfast (which didn’t start till 7.30am – pretty late for a toddler who is normally tucking into his marmite and toast by 6am). But we were in a double room and there was nowhere for Ian and I to chill out in the evenings so we were forced to go to bed pretty early. Rock and Roll. We went to a woodfired pizza place the first evening, as many of you know, Rocky is a pretty fussy eater and so we do like to go for pizza every once in a while (normally once a week!) so that we can all just sit and have a meal without the food fight and refusal to eat. He loves his margarita and its so nice to actually see him tucking into food and enjoying it. We got chatting to the owner and Rocky ended up playing with her son who was 3 years old. We told her we were looking for a babysitter or nanny or nursery, basically any chance for Ian and I to have some time together, and if Rocky got to hang out with some other kids that would be great too. She told us about a local nursery which her son attends, 8.30am-12pm Monday to Friday, just in the local area. We instantly got our hopes up and the next day she had spoken to the teachers and they had agreed to have Rocky at the nursery for 500LKR ($4.50AUD) per day. Absolute winner, thank goodness we went for pizza. I dropped him off the next morning and he ran straight in and instantly warmed to all the attention the teachers and others kids were giving him. Theres no doubt the nursery was rustic, and the swings and see-saw outside looked on their last legs, but more importantly to me the teachers there (3 for around 12 kids) were absolutely lovely and they had come highly recommended.
As much as we love him, spending 24/7 with a toddler is physically and mentally exhausting, especially when travelling, and he probably wanted some space from us as much as we did from him, the time apart was going to do the whole family good. But Ian and I couldn’t have our RnR just yet, we were moving from the Blue Wave to our new digs Mambos for the next few nights. by the time we checked out and checked in and had our luggage sent over its time to pick up Rocky. He’s laughing and playing with the other kids when I go to pick him up, and barely acknowledges i’m there! Im so glad, he looks like he’s had a great time. Our next few days at Mambos were great, it was right on the beach near the surf break, and only a short walk to the nursery. We would start our day with a sunrise walk along the beach, watching the surfers and getting covered in sand. Then we’d sit on our deck eating delicious mango and watching monkeys swing from the trees and poke their heads down from our roof. If we weren’t watching they’d come onto our deck and try their luck with basically anything we’d left there. They stole a bag of rubbish – Ian and I’s curry from the night before – and had a great feast on the roof of the cabana next to us. Monkeys are great entertainment for toddlers. And it was a good job because breakfast didn’t start till 8am!!! Myself or Ian would walk Rocky to nursery and I would make my way to a yoga class while Ian surfed. Then we’d meet for a swim and enjoy the down time.
Despite all the positives, Arugam Bay, we have discovered, is quite touristy and a big backpacker destination, there’s big partys most nights which can be heard right across the bay till 6am, and the surf is crowded. Its also expensive compared to the rest of Sri Lanka. Maybe 10 years ago we’d have been all for it, but we were definitely craving a quieter spot, so after 3 nights at Mambos it was time to move again. Ian and I took a 20 minute tuk tuk ride to Whiskey Point to check it out, it was quiet, there was surf, a couple of restaurants, and a bar…bingo.