Where has the time gone? How is it over 3 weeks since I last blogged?! This trip is going far too quick for my liking. Its now dawned on us that we’re nearly quarter of the way through our trip. We’ve been getting used to daily life here along with the occasional trip away here and there….
The lake is only 5 minutes away so we thought we’d check it out. After negotiating a price we hopped on the boat and our driver – sorry, captain – took us across the lake to one of the many tiny islands. We strapped Rocky into an oversized “kids” life jacket and he sat next to me looking in wonder out at the lake. The first stop was called cinnamon island, and I bet you can’t guess what grew on it?! We climbed some rocky stairs to a small house where we were greeted by a husband and wife, he talked to us about the cinnamon and showed us how its stripped of its bark and dried out to make the cinnamon sticks we’re familiar with, then we tasted some cinnamon tea and he showed us some other products which are made from cinnamon like curry powder and cinnamon powder. We bought some of the curry powder and headed back to the boat, but couldn’t resist dipping our feet in the natural fish pedicure waters…! I’ve experienced it before in Thailand so Ian gave it a go this time, Rocky wasn’t so sure and did everything to stop his feet from touching the water when we attempted to dip him in!
The next place our boat took us was to a spice garden. every spice you can think of was in this garden it was amazing, Rocky hasn’t quite got the idea of smelling something yet though and just kept blowing the leaves and plants when we asked him to smell them.
A peaceful ride back across the lake on the boat while the sun went down and back home to make cinnamon curry..
We had been told about this beautiful beach and wanted to check it out, but it was time for Ian and I to have some alone time. So we booked the nanny in (yes we have found one and she’s fab!) to pick Rocky up from day care to give us some extra time, and headed to Hiriketiya beach near the town of Dikwella. Its a beautiful beach with a surf break and a few places to stop for lunch. We went to Salt House for coffee and the most delicious smoothie ever. We relaxed on the beach for a while – because we could – and had a swim. We’ll definitely go back there..
Udawalawe National Park
Ians mum – thats ‘Grandy’ to Rocky – has been here visiting so we wanted to take her to see the elephants. We arranged our usual driver to take us in his minivan and set off on the 4 hour journey to Udawalawe.
We stopped to see a blow hole which was pretty impressive, the walk to get there though was lovely too, through a little Sri Lankan village and up and down cobbled paths. We stopped and bought some freshly fried small fish and ate them whole, even Rocky tried them which I was impressed with, Im not sure he believed me when I told him they were a fish finger though!
We arrived at Udawalawe just in time for feeding time at the elephant orphanage. Cuteness overload as they came trotting in to get their milk. Then they ate what looked like big grass leaves in front of us for a while before heading back into the national park. An absolute must see if you’re visiting the area.
The next day we headed out early to enter the national park on our safari. We hired a jeep and driver and kept our eyes peeled for elephants. It wasn’t long before Rocky made his elephant noise and pointed to the right, we all looked across and saw it coming out from the bushes, it passed straight in front of the jeep and wondered out across the park. Beautiful. From there we drove through the park and our driver pointed out everything from chameleons to elephants, eagles to buffalo, and not forgetting peacocks. There was about an hour of the safari when I was starting to think we were on a peacock safari but another jeep drove past and told our driver where a group of elephants were hanging out, and all of a sudden he put his foot down and we were racing along the dirt tracks holding onto our hats until we slowed down to join a few other jeeps who were all watching elephants on both sides of us. There really is something magical about watching these amazing animals in their natural habitat. We ended up seeing quite a few elephants and the safari was a great success and a great Sri Lankan experience.
So with Grandys stay coming to an end we decided to all jump in the minivan to the airport and catch a ride to Colombo, partly because our initial 3 month visa expires in a week and so we needed to make the trip to the immigration office to extend the visas by another 3 months. In many ways Colombo seems quite civilised after living on the south coast, with lots of fairly modern shops and restaurants, and nice cars on the road. However, it also feels polluted, especially when travelling in a tuk tuk through the rush hour traffic. And like most big cities, busy. We stayed in a hotel and got to immigration first thing the next morning. Once again it took 2 hours to go through the process but we survived all the queuing and waiting around and got the visas, so we can now tick that off and relax in Sri Lanka till January! We decided to get the train back to south coast, mostly to save money but also because we thought the train would be relatively easy, Rocky loves the train and you can easily move around and stretch your legs….or so we thought. The reality was that we were lucky to get a seat, in fact the only reason I got a seat was because Rocky was asleep on me. Ian didn’t get a seat till about an hour into the journey. And even just getting to the train station in Colombo was a nightmare! You’d think that tuk tuk drivers in Colombo would know where Colombo’s main train station was, even when we showed them it on a map, but the driver we got just decided to drop us at some random train station. We kept telling him it was the wrong one but it just didn’t translate so we jumped out and flagged down another one. Rocky had fallen asleep in the tuk tuk so Ian carried him from one tuk tuk to another, and then through the train station to our platform. We were nearly an hour early so we found a wooden trailer on the platform and laid him down on his pillow, he slept there till the train came and then we carried him onto the busy train, and he slept for another hour. Imagine sitting on a busy train in the 30 degree heat with no air conditioning and a 14kg hot water bottle lying on you.. needless to say I was a little dehydrated. Although it was hot and sweaty, and busy, and long (3 hours), and we probably wouldn’t do the journey again, it was, however, a beautiful journey down the coast following the beach all the way, the views were amazing.
And so starts our second half of our time here in Sri Lanka, we’ve already made lots of lovely friends and we have more visitors on the way. Im looking forward to exploring more of this beautiful country and excited to share the experience with friends and family.