sri lanka, travel, travel with kids, Uncategorized, virgin white tea

Riding trains and drinking tea

train1What little person doesn’t enjoy travelling on a train? We caught a train from Ahangama to Matara (around 30 minutes), firstly because we thought Rocky would enjoy a train ride, but also with the intention of checking out another part of the south coast. We arrived at the train station and bought our ticket which was 25rs each (around 20cents!) and were told the train to Matara would be pulling in over the other side, so we went up onto the bridge and Rocky peered through the holes eagerly waiting for the train. We watched as people walked across the tracks to get to the station, Rocky waved from the bridge and they waved back much to his enjoyment. Then we heard the ‘choo choooo’ of the train in the distance, it was very exciting (play along with the excitement people). So we started to make our way to the other track then realised the people there were making their way back up onto the bridge… we were being told the train would now be on the original side after all..! We stepped over the huge gap and onto the train, found a window seat, and away we went. The windows are wide open and its a great feeling sticking your head out of the window and enjoying the breeze. Rocky was loving it, waving to people, pointing at everything, and even waving to daddy out of the window from up in the next carriage. We arrived at Matara and the station was bustling with people arriving for work. We headed along the street and towards the ocean to a small footbridge which led to a little island where we visited a temple. At the entrance to the foot bridge a young man was pointing to some scales and beckoning us towards them, did we seriously have to weigh ourselves before we got on the bridge!? Turns out his entrepreneurial skills had led him to charging people 12 rupees each to weigh themselves. We politely declined.

A young Buddhist monk gave us each a blessing and sang a little song as he wrapped some cotton around each of our wrists. We walked around the temple taking in the amazing view across the ocean, then made our way back across the foot bridge.

After a play at the park on the beach and a banana milkshake we made our way back totrain2 the train station. The ride home was even more exciting. Ian persuaded the train driver to let us in the engine room with him, Rocky sat on the drivers knee, and pressed the button for the ‘Choo choooo’! I’m not sure who was most excited, Ian or Rocky.

There are, of course, many cultural differences here compared to the western world, but none amaze me more than the way people here react around western kids. For example, we were at a bus stop one day waiting for the bus back from the beach when a women next to Rocky reached into her hand bag and pulled out two choking hazard sized boiled sweets, individually wrapped. And without any acknowledgement or eye contact towards Ian or I she handed them straight to Rocky. I don’t think he knew what they were so I managed to take them off him and sneak them in my bag, but no sooner had I done that the women had produced a chocolate bar from her bag and handed him that as well! I was hoping his first bar of chocolate would be a delicious Cadburys bar, but instead it was a sugary strawberry thing covered in a very artificial flavoured chocolate!  More concerning though, is the way people take photos of him, and even video. And i’m sure its all innocent enough but back home we’d probably be calling the police if a random stranger was videoing our child playing on the beach.

In other news, the dog bite is healing but a fear of dogs has now emerged, I just hope I don’t pass that fear on to Rocky. The monkeys still visit us every day but none have made it into the house again. And as for the cold turkey…. well Rocky is getting to sleep within 5 or 10 minutes now but only with one of us in the room with him. He wakes 2-3 times a night and walks through to our room which is a massive backwards turn considering he’s been sleeping through the night since he was about 8 months old. Anyway, he slept through the night last night for the first time in a while so maybe we’re getting somewhere. We’ve been struggling to find a nanny, there have been a couple of Sri Lankan women who have looked after him but they don’t speak english, which not only makes it hard for her to read bed time stories etc, but also it means we can’t communicate anything to her or find out what kind of a day/night he had. But it turns out the one Sri Lankan girl we found who does speak english is more available than we thought so we’re just trying to work out a schedule and should have her on hand to help very soon. Rocky loves her, we’ve dropped him off at her house before and he runs in and doesn’t even look back!

Rocky has started back at nursery 5 mornings a week which gives Ian and I time to ourselves. On my birthday we visited a tea plantation, only about 10 minutes away from where we live. We tasted the famous ‘virgin white tea’, from ancient Chinese tradition, where the Chinese Emperor employed virgins wearing soft silk gloves to cut the tea leaves with gold scissors into a golden bowl picked by virgins and only touched by the lips of the emperor. It tasted pretty epic to be fair, but at $1500USD per kilo it should!

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