Sri Lanka offers so much which is why we chose to come here… great food, great weather, great surf, friendly people, and cheap (if you manage to get local prices). But its not set up for kids the way the western world is. I haven’t seen a change table since we got here, probably because they don’t use nappies here. Its great timing for doing some toilet training, so there’s been lots of nappy free time when we’re at the villa. And if you’re thinking of coming here with kids leave the pram/stroller at home because there’s no pavements and the roads are full of tuk tuks, street dogs, and huge pot holes everywhere.
I do miss the huge park we have close to home in Brisbane, and the many playgroups, rhyme times, toddler times, mums groups, and festivals for kids. Its all about being creative here, which I am not, so thank goodness for the internet where I can search for craft ideas like making a crocodile out of an egg carton!
We have our friends Ash and Steven and their daughter Callie here visiting at the moment. Callie and Rocky were born 6 days apart and have been playmates ever since so we couldn’t wait for them to get here. Its lovely to see them playing together and chat away to each other in their own little language. Im not sure if it’s their age or if Rocky has just got used to having all his toys to himself, but they do fight a lot too! If Callie goes near Rocky’s toy cars she’ll know about it, and if Rocky goes near Callie’s food Rocky knows about it! Its amazing to see how they know exactly how to push each others buttons at such a young age.
So after a week of rain we finally got them out of the house. With limited access to parks and toddler time we’ve been hunting out the best ways to entertain the kids on Sri Lankas south coast…
With the coast line being so close to the roads here there are a select few beaches we’ve been heading to, like wajiya beach, a lagoon like shallow swimming beach protected by the reef and a pizza place right there which serves pretty good cocktails. The kids were happily entertained by the foot bath which people walk in after being on the beach to get the sand off, the kids must think its their own private paddling pool, and the fact that everyone steps in it with their stinky feet after being on the beach is completely ignored by all the parents as they sip on their cocktails enjoying the peace and quiet. A bit further along the coast is Unawatuna, we sometimes head to one of the hotels on the beach there for the buffet breakfast where the kids enjoy pancakes and the rest of us pile up our plates with egg hoppers, Sri Lankas traditional breakfast. Then we walk down the beach to a spot thats perfect for swimming and float around with our full bellys and the kids splash around and get all sandy. I’ve given up trying to lie my towel down and expect it to be sand free, those days are over.
We’ve been making good use of the pool at the villa and Rocky’s swimming is improving day by day, he’s even swimming a width on his own with no arm bands! The next step is to get him his own snorkel and mask. He definitely takes after his dad and is a water baby.
We’ve been enjoying some kid free time too. Both Ian and Steven have hired scooters, which seems to be the best way to get about other than in a tuk tuk. We decided to check out Mirissa, so we dropped the kids off at nursery and jumped on the scooters. After a delicious breakfast on the beach we walked up the little island which sticks out from the beach and took in the views, then we headed east along the beach to the spot seen on lots of Instagram posts, Mirissa really is a beautiful place, especially when you get away from the touristy part of the beach. Steven had read about a ‘secret beach’ so we hopped on the scooters and went on a mission to find it. The ride took us through the marina for which we had to pay 25 rupees each, the tourist tax. The smell of fish nearly knocked me off the scooter, we drove past huge piles of fish heads and the mornings catch and headed up the hill until we saw the ‘secret beach’ below. It was ok, just another beach if i’m honest, but we made our way down the steps and went to explore.And we’re very glad we did, because as we walked around the corner, climbing over rocks, we found the most beautiful oasis, rock pools big enough to swim in and filled with tropical fish. It was so peaceful and we definitely enjoyed having it all to ourselves and the peace and quiet of no kids, however, we all slowly admitted that we would also quite like to bring them with us next time.
Another activity we’ve enjoyed without the kids is a cooking class, we’ve been eating some great dishes since we got here and we were keen to learn more about them and learn to cook them ourselves. A local women, Deevi, runs a lovely private cooking class from her home just round the corner from us (opposite Hotel Kabalana for those who are visiting). The ingredients, the flavours, everything was delicious, and we learnt how to make coconut milk from scratch, and how different combinations of ingredients were used with some things and not others. Then we ate everything the Sri Lankan way – with our hands – and felt so full afterwards. One of our favourite dishes and probably the easiest to recreate was the ‘Fish Cutlet’ – Fish and potato balls covered in breadcrumbs and deep fried -need I say more. So heres the recipe…enjoy.
4 small pieces of yellow fin tuna, chopped
2 tsp chilli flakes
4 garlic cloves
Small pieces of ginger
Salt to taste
Coconut oil for frying
Curry leaves if available
METHOD OF PREPARATION
First, boil the fish and potato. After, peel off the potato skin. Cut small pieces of onion/garlic/curry leaves and ginger and fry. If you need some more spice add a few green chillies. Mix the potato and fish together in a bowl. Add salt, pepper and chilli flakes. Add the potato and fish to a pan with a small amount of coconut oil and heat. Then add the onion/garlic/curry leaves/ginger/chilli mixture and fry. When the mixture becomes a golden colour take it out of the pan and keep mixing in a bowl
Use your hands to make small balls with the mixture. Coat with egg and then bread crumbs. Heat the coconut oil (enough to deep fry the balls) and fry. Remove from the oil when they become a golden colour. Serve and enjoy (preferably with a lion lager)!