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Old 13th July 2008, 12:17   #1
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Default A Janner Journey - Holiday in Sri Lanka

I've finally built up courage to write about our first 'proper' holiday. For the past 10 years, we have made trips to India, the U.K. and we always visit our families & friends. We had one great week in Goa in 2003, and we always wanted to do something different.
This year Spring break was approaching, we had been in Doha almost 9 months and desperately needed a change of scene. Our son had a week off school, so we decided to go away. Initially we wanted to go to Dubai, to visit my sister and our friends there, but the hotel rates were extortionist, and even the lure of pork shopping wouldn't let us spend that much per night.
Now that the seed was planted, we just had to get away. I came up with Thailand or Sri Lanka....my husband didn't want to fly more than 3-4 hours, so Sri Lanka it was. We found this beautiful looking hotel, booked for 4 nights, booked the flights etc. Then when he applied for his leave, his boss said, oh, you can't go to Sri Lanka for 4 nights, you must stay longer. Take a week off work!! Oh wow! Little did we know that this extension would cause our budget to go haywire..........oh well. It's only money

So the excitement builds up. Josh is looking at what we can do, he is only interested in swimming, swimming, oh yeah, we can go and look at the Turtle sanctuary. Frantic dash to the shops, pharmacy for essentials, pack the bags, check, double check and finally we're ready to go. Our flight is at midnight, so we leave home at half ten, we live 5 mins away from the airport. Check in etc.,and then we're sitting in the departure lounge, the boys are both asleep, and we are just talking quietly. Eventually we board, and before the plane takes off are all asleep. We are woken up by the steward, who offers us a drink and says we are an hour away from Colombo, would we like to freshen up etc.

We are here! The arrivals are great, bright, shiny, and very welcoming. We are surprised we are in Sri Lanka.
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Going through immigration is effortless, the people are so friendly and helpful. We collect our bags, make a brief stop in the washrooms to freshen up. They are also extremely clean, fresh unlike the ones at Mumbai airport (unfortunately that's my only comparison). There is a separate mother/baby room if nappies need to be changed or babies to be fed.

We find the person meant to collect us, load our bags into the suzuki van. The humidity is amazing. We had just come from temperatures of 10C and lower, to this.

We make a brief stop to buy some cold bottled water and we're off, hurtling through the traffic. The roads are narrow, traffic seems to go all over the place. Colombo seems to be very clean, there are army checkpoints & guards all over the place. An absence of beggars. And oh, so busy. Our driver tells us it will take a minimum of 3 hours till we reach Hikkaduwa, which is in the South West. Craig & the boys fall asleep within minutes, and after a while, so do I. When I wake up a couple of hours later, we're still hurtling, faster now as the traffic is quicker, and not so busy. The driver tells us that we're going to hit the coast pretty soon, and literally, he turns a corner, and I get my first glimpse of the sea.


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Almost 4 hours later, we are in Hikkaduwa, and at our hotel, The Amaya Reef. We drive in and it looks just like it did on the internet, bright yellow walls, very colonial and we are really happy. While our bags are being unloaded and Craig checks us in, we sit in the open plan lobby. One of the staff bring us this ice cold drink, its green, with what Josh called 'frogs eyes' floating on the top. Can't identify the taste, but its very refreshing. We are taken to our room, at basement level, and again, it's good. A bit smaller than we expected, but occupancy is full. There's a bed for Josh, a cot for Jamie, fresh sheets, flat screen tv and about 6 channels, mini bar, little bathroom but its great.
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After we shower & change we're about to step out onto our little patio, when we see the resident pet....
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Josh is chuffed to bits at the monitor lizard, Jamie is petrified, so we pick him up and explore. The grounds are not very large, but so clean, trees all around us for shade, grass everywhere. We take the steps up to the beach, there's the pool on our left and a small bar on our right. Above the bar is the spa, and further ahead the restaurant.

We have a leisurely walk on the beach, Jamie hates the sensation of sand under his feet, but Josh is off, so happy.
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We walk for a while, lost in the sound of the sea, we have missed it so much. We used to live opposite a beach in Kuwait, for 5 years and have missed these walks. This is so different, there is a local man fishing in the sea, he only has a line, no rod. Everyone smiles. Dotted along the beach the bars spill over from the smaller guesthouses & hotels. Reminiscent of Goa, but not the same vibe. It's a lot lazier, if that's possible. We see people surfing, it's just gorgeous.

Back at the restaurant, the boys & Craig have a lunch of ham & cheese toasty sandwiches, chips, lots of water & I try the local devilled prawns. They are more devilled than I am used to, so lots and lots of water & cola.
They have a swim, but energy is flagging now, so we head back to the room for a much needed nap.

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Just as we're leaving the pool, it rains, and does all afternoon. So exciting. After the arid landscape of Doha, we love this.
We have a lovely evening meal, lots of cold Carlsberg to wash down the spicy food, watch the sun go down. And then we're off to bed.

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Old 13th July 2008, 14:09   #2
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Very nice. Must make an attempt to visit Sri Lanka once.
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Old 13th July 2008, 14:32   #3
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Excellent pictures and write up. Srilanka is a beautiful place, do post some more pictures of your visit there. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 13th July 2008, 14:52   #4
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really nice pictures, and great travelogue. where's the rest of it?
and please keep adding details of what its like travelling with kids. facilities, activities and the like. it will come in handy for a lot of us.
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Old 13th July 2008, 15:43   #5
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Sri Lanka is a really nice place to be in especially if you want to take a break & chill out! The travelogue looks good Sar, keep it coming!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sar View Post
After we shower & change we're about to step out onto our little patio, when we see the resident pet....

Jamie is petrified, so we pick him up and explore.
I would sympathise with the poor boy, I would be petrified too!
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Old 13th July 2008, 16:55   #6
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Excellent write up and pics. Waiting for next post.
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Old 13th July 2008, 17:06   #7
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Default Day 2

Apologies for the break, but I write in between doing my chores. Also since we go on holiday in 3 days, heaps to do. Anyway here goes.

Mamamamamama!! Wakeee-eeet!! What? Where? Huh??
I look at my watch, its 9am!!! We have never, ever slept in so late. Our boys wake up latest by 6:30am even on the weekends. So this is a luxury. We quickly get ready and go to the restaurant for breakfast, as it's only served between 7:30 & 10.
Breakfast consists of fresh fruit - pineapple, watermelons, rockmelon, cantaloupe, and tiny bananas. Dry cereals with milk, local yogurt, and juices. Hot food was bacon, sausage, eggs, baked beans, grilled mushrooms, tomato, french toast. Plus local string hoppers, fried fish, dal curry and sambals. Teas & Coffees. We had taken our own uht milk, just be on the safe side with the boys.
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After breakfast we had arranged to go into town, and the guys at reception introduced us to Prema, who would be our guide for the next few trips. He asked if we wanted to go in a car, in which case he'd bring his cousin. Or we could go in his tuk tuk. The tuk tuk was the obvious choice, as Josh loves riding in them. To Jamie, this was a strange experience. What, no car seat? He cried every tme we got into one for the next few days.

Prema dropped us off into town, had a super conversation on route. Turned out that he had lived in the U.K. for 6 months last year, and had travelled all over, visiting his son who now lives there, and other friends. He'd even been to Devon & Cornwall, and we were so thrilled, as we could relate to the places he'd been to etc. Craig is from Plymouth, Devon.

The town of Hikkaduwa is really quaint, and nothing I can really compare it to. Having grown up in a quiet city, to see everything in one small area is great. It was really bustling. We wandered about some of the shops, stopped by to see a train passing, as Joshua has never been on a train. Ever! One of the locals told us that the train crash where thousands of people died in 2004 was not far from where we were.

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We walked to the fishing harbour, paid the 200SR entry fee each and walked around. The boats were so colourful, it was busy. But it was getting hot, so decided to take a tuk tuk back.

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Josh spotted a car. So a picture had to be taken.

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Then he started giggling and said something to Craig, they ducked into a little shop and come out with a big bunch of flowers! Happy Valentines mummy. Bless him.

We head back, have lunch and then they go for a swim. Jamie decides to catch up on his reading.
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Then has a nap.


Then it rains, big fat drops. Plop, plop, plop. We run back to the room, the boys and I are giggling as Craig tries to juggle towels, bag of sorts, etc. It's wonderful to see the rain.

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The boys watch a dvd & Craig watches the cricket while I read. We'd taken a selection of dvds for them to watch on the laptop, sketch book & colours for Josh, his gameboy, some transformers & cars and a deck of cards. They both look sunkissed.
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When the rain lets up we go out and explore. There a few touristy shops, that sell masks, leather bags, stools, cushions. Tailors that will make you a dress/shorts/shirts. Two art galleries. A hairdresser. A few restaurants & pubs. We decide to try a local restaurant for a meal. Big Mistake. The food takes over an hour to get to us, so we ask for them to pack it up. On the way back to the hotel Craig stops at the liquor store to buy some beers and a bottle of wine, some juice for the boys. The food we ordered was quite oily & inedible, so we asked the restaurant to send us some chips, sandwiches & battered prawns. We have a little party on the small patio off our room. It's been a lovely Valentines, spent with my best guys.
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Old 13th July 2008, 17:45   #8
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Default Day 3

We are up early-ish, shower, have breakfast & get ready to meet Prema for half 9. He is going to take us to the Turtle Sanctuary. On the way out of Hikkaduwa we pass this huge statue of Buddha, built by the Japanese.

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On the opposite side of the road is a beautiful memorial, to those who had lost their lives in the train crash & the tsunami. It's so sad, to think something so devastating happened on this lovely island. The people are still smiling. They are rebuilding their lives. We get back into the tuk tuk and a quiet for a while. We keep passing what I can only describe as gravestones, all along the road. They are bordered in fences made out of sticks, with white paper flags tied to them. Next to one there was a group of people, all in white. We asked Prema what they were, so he said that people who had money, had a family burial site. The one we had just passed was actually someone's funeral. They hang white flags to honour the dead. Out of respect I did not take any photos, though it was such a special thing to witness.

About 45 minutes later we reach the reserve in Kosgoda. It's very small, but the guy working there truly loves the turtles. He has been there since he was a little boy. They rely on donations & grants & now organise working volunteer trips, to raise funds.
We learn a lot about the turtles, it is so informative.
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He shows us where they bury the eggs till they are hatched.
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Then the week old, two week old & 3 week old turtles, that are in separate tanks.

The turtles that are disabled and can't go back to sea, as they will be killed by predators.

We buy some small batik paintings, Josh some gifts for his teacher and then we're back in the tuk tuk. Prema is going to take us to visit a temple.

Up, up, up this winding path. Ordinarily we would have never done something like this. But he is such a careful driver, and the roads are empty. We pass a pond with lotus flowers...ahhh..
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Up the hill now, he points out the trees on either side of the path, they are cinammon trees.

Finally we are here. As the monk is busy, we walk around the grounds, and find the steps that we would have actually had to take, had we walked. Wow.
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And we see the biggest red ants ever.

Inside the temple, there are some beautiful statues, again so colourful. I only have the stone temples in Mahabalipuram (sp) to compare them to, as I have not travelled much in India. These are so well maintained, depicting the story of the Ramayana. So while I am explaining to Joshua & Craig, this very young monk comes to me. He asks if I am Hindu or Buddhist & s surprised to hear that I am neither. I just remember my history lessons, and reading the Ramayana classics as a child. We talk about life in general. He is curious that we have come all the way from the desert to be here. He is simple, but so educated, speaks so well. He asks if he may bless the boys, and we are touched. He couldn't be more than 20, but there was a way about him, and I wish I have 1/10th of his calm.
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We head back, as it has been a long day, and arrange to meet with Prema on the Sunday, when we will head to Galle.

Back at the hotel, the boys go for a swim, and we have our evening meal at the restaurant of a German guesthouse. Great grilled chicken, chips, battered prawns, a salad & cold, cold beer & white wine. Lovely
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Old 13th July 2008, 18:11   #9
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Default Days 4 & 5

The next two days we spend at the hotel. We go for extremely long walks on the beach. The boys spend every spare moment in the pool. Craig checks his work mails in the lobby, as that's where the internet is available. I read, listen to music. Josh & I go really brown. It's beautiful, relaxing. Josh discovers a bed of sea urchins, he is so excited. We collect shells, he does cartwheels on the sand. We have seen turtles coming to feed each evening as the sun is going down. they come closer and closer to shore with every wave, and its so wonderful to see. Nothing can prepare you for it.

In the evenings we go back to the German restaurant for meals, as they are cheaper than at the hotel, and we don't have to wait hBeours. That is the only negative thing I would have to say about the place, that it took forever for food to be served. That and the spa had men so I didn't go :(

Beautiful sunsets, the boys did not fight. They played together, Jamie just enjoyed running around. As far as facilities went, there was nothing but the pool. It did not matter. We sang silly songs, drew silly pictures.
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Old 13th July 2008, 19:26   #10
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Excellent pictures and write up.


1)
Is that pet real or a toy. I read that it was resident pet, but well it that really a pet animal ?

2)
The train visible in the pictures is a real train or a house, I managed to see a wheather shade and flowers coming out of it.

3)
What is tuk tuk ?
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Old 13th July 2008, 19:52   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aaggoswami View Post
3)
What is tuk tuk ?
I'll answer that one! Autorickshaw's (mainly Bajaj in SL) are called Tuk-Tuk's!
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Old 13th July 2008, 19:55   #12
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Fantastic. I guess I need to visit srilanka too.

And dont worry about monitor lizards. They are harmless I met some of late too. nice but scarily big they are
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Old 13th July 2008, 21:53   #13
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Thanks guys, I am happy to share. To us this holiday was a big deal, like I had said, we always visit the UK & Pune...same old. Now our next trip home, in 3 days, we're still going to the UK but somewhere we haven't been before. Looking forward to it.
1)
Is that pet real or a toy. I read that it was resident pet, but well it that really a pet animal ?

It was a real monitor lizard, in fact there were two of them!. Not harmful but just creepy in that reptilian way, especially when they ran accross the tiled floor of the restaurant...click-tik-tik-tik-tik :P
2)
The train visible in the pictures is a real train or a house, I managed to see a wheather shade and flowers coming out of it.
Real train. It was passing by, I didn't want to go too close to the tracks so the picture has been taken from the road.
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Old 14th July 2008, 10:03   #14
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Great Travelogue Sar. Sri Lanka is a beautiful place. You stayed at hikkaduwa, which is one of the best beaches along the southwest coastline. For the others, Hikkaduwa has a coral sanctuary, with clear waters, great variety of sea life and beautiful coral formations. You can enjoy it by snorkelling and/ or glass bottom boats. Attaching a couple of pictures for you to see what I mean.

A Janner Journey - Holiday in Sri Lanka-dsc01805.jpg
A Janner Journey - Holiday in Sri Lanka-dscn1296.jpg
PS: Sar, you stayed only along the coast or had a chance to travel inland as well? And the trains in SL, they still have quaint wooden bogies. Traveling in one is such fun!!!!
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Old 14th July 2008, 10:26   #15
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Wow. Sri Lanka looks to be a must visit place now.

Great report and pictures Sar. Thanks for sharing.
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