United Kingdom, Sri Lanka · 29 Days · 29 Moments · June 2017

Mark and Lauren - Sri Lanka 2017

12 July 2017

HIKKADUWA TO COLOMBO AND HOME We wanted to make use of our last day so got up for an early breakfast before having a go at body boarding. The waves were strangely gentle so it wasn't great. We headed to Turtle beach and caught up with the Turtles again before relaxing by the beach and then sadly packing. We got a tuc tuc to the station and got our 80p tickets for the 3 hour journey along the West Coast to Colombo along withba few vegetable roti. We sat by the doors because it was busy but eventually bagged a couple of seats. At Colombo we struggled to locate the airport bus in the mayhem of rush hour so got a tuc tuc to the airport. Had a bite to eat and Lauren sS suck in the toilets. She has an ear infection too which we managed to get some antibiotics for. All in all she wasn't great. The flight to Doha was empty as was the flight from Doha to Birmingham so we stretched out on more seats than we needed and got some great sleep. A beautiful time that we are both so thankful ❤️❤
HIKKADUWA The plan today was to go to the Tsunami museum when the skies clouded over, normally in the afternoon. We had a long, leisurely, luxurious breakfast before settling back on the comfortable sun loungers overlooking the beach. A nice feeling after all the travelling. We had lunch at the Dolphin just along the beach and the heaves opened as we were eating utterly forgettable food. It made our mind up to return to Top Secret for dinner. We got a tuc tuc to the museum passing the big Buddha memorial, built to the exact height the wave was when it hit land. The museum and the memorial were very humbling and we saw some very graphic photographs of the carnage. A sad return to the hotel and the beach for sunset only to see a local man feeding giant turtles seaweed near the shore. He invited us in to feed them and we spent a captivating hour feeding and marvelling at the beauty and gentleness of these enormous creatures. Dinner at Top Secret and sat by the fire on the beach ❤️

10 July 2017

HIKKADUWA A leisurely start today and after omelette and strong, hot coffee we braved the manic Galle road to the train station. Picked up our 40p second class tickets and jumped on the 10.55am express to Hikkaduwa. The train was rammed so we happily sat by the open door watching the World go by with a warm breeze for the 25 minute journey. We followed the coast which allowed us glimpses of great deserted beaches and rolling waves. A short tuc tuc to the hotel and our treat for the last two days. A nice hotel with a great shower, great beds, daybeds and balcony and a beachside pool. Pure luxury and a nice treat to ourselves. Luce recommended a bar called Top secret so we walked the mile or so and it really was a dream. Really cool with lanterns and scatter cushions and the mashed potato with fried onion was sublime. Back in the evening for more great food and a beer sat in front of the fire on the beach. Waves crashing and a clear sky with a full moon. Twinkling stars, blissful ❤
UNAWATUNA The rain this morning was drenching and even when it stopped the clouds hung around so we decided to go back to Galle fort. The guest house man dropped us in and we had a couple of hours wandering the ramparts and the Cobbled streets. We stopped at an upmarket healthy Delhi and had a detoxifying and a reenergising shake. One tasted like freshly mown grass and the other like gone off yoghurt. I'm sure we felt so much better!! We got the tuc tuc back to the beach, picking up vegetable roti's from a side street stand on the way. The waves and the incoming and outgoing current were incredibly strong so we had a great time again being battered and bruised in the surf. Incredible power!! Back to the Guest house for some admin and housekeeping as the rain swept in again. In the evening we walked the side streets to the beach for dinner and to be honest it was pretty uninspiring. Looking forward to the train to Hikkaduwa and a look at somewhere different..

8 July 2017

UNAWATUNA The time is slipping away really quickly but we were ready to move on so we settled up at Palm Villa and waited for a bus to Unawatuna on the street outside. The Galle bus swept straight past and it was sweltering so we bartered for a tuc tuc and off we went, stopping at a turtle sanctuary if that's what it was. Srimali guest house was a really lovely surprise. We have a huge room on the top floor with two balconies and it's so clean. Five minutes from the beach which actually is a bit Blackpool. We sat in a Cabana eating Nachos and chips and gravy before going for a walk, playing with the dogs and having an hour being ragged around by the awesome waves. Pulled in then out, knocked over forwards and backwards and being smashed against the sand. It was exhilarating but wouldn't like to get caught out. Into Galle in the evening and what a beautiful surprise. The fort area is just lovely. Cobbled streets and amazing Dutch Colonial architecture. Had dinner at the Pedlars inn.
MIRISSA We had breakfast at Orchid Rest and came across to Palm Villa on the beach. Papa mango decided to charge for use of sun beds so we dodged it and came back to spend the day at Palm Villa. It was cloudy so we decided to go swim on the next beach and the waves were huge and really strong. We were swept off our feet a few times! Bit scary, you wouldn't want to swim too far out. Had some chocolate puffs and bubble chocolate and dad had a milo chocolate milk - proper treat day. I was in a bad mood because I'm tired - did some reading of my f1 book and dad had a nap. Out for dinner on the beach watching the amazing zip waves. When the outgoing wave meets the incoming wave it makes a a really rapid zip across the length as if a huge fish just under the surface is swimming at Mach 10 forcing a plume of water up. Dad is mesmerised 😂 I'm not so enthralled but it is impressive. Nice chilled day

6 July 2017

MIRISSA We slept like logs so had breakfast about 10 and then got a tuc tuc to Papa Mangos on the next cove. A cool restaurant on the beach with hammocks and sunbeds. It wasn't open until tomorrow but they let us use the stuff and advised lunch at Palm Villa, a white arched hotel next door. Lauren played with the local dogs and we swung in the hammocks enjoying the sun and the sea for most of the day. Lunch at Palm villa was good and we had a look at the rooms. They have beautiful paintings of animals in all the rooms and around the hotel and they're great. It had a great feel so we decided to stay tomorrow night before leaving for Unawatuna and also use Papa Mango. Curry and beer on the beach again and Lauren met a couple from Liverpool she knows from Medical school. That's 5 separate groups. Couldn't believe it, just walked into them on the beach.
MIRISSA We booked an earlier breakfast and after a sad farewell we walked down the hill to the road to catch the bus by the vegetable stand. As we arrived at the road the red Government bus to Wellawaya turned the corner and we jumped on. The first leg of 30 kilometres was dreamy. All the windows open letting the warm air flood through the bus, the mountain scenery was unreal and we were very happy. We stopped in Wellawaya and just missed a Matara bus. A shark tuc tuc driver moved in as we got off the bus and tried to tell us we had a 2 hour wait and his tuc tuc was a better option, very cheap price!! We had none of it and very quickly found that Galle bus was ready to leave and would take us to our destination, Mirissa. The bus waited for us as we bought water and roti and we jumped on to a rammed coach. Not comfortable or scenic in aisle seats inches apart but we were on our way and we were happy. Git to Orchid rest and the lovely family welcomed us. Seafood on the beach

3 July 2017

ELLA We love the Treehouse so much we offered the owner half price for a second night and he accepted as long as nobody booked it before noon. We were anxiously waiting for high noon but enjoyed a leisurely breakfast on the verandah. At 12 we were given the thumbs up so off we went to walk to a small waterfall. We couldn't find it so jumped on a bus and got off at Narawan waterfall. Quite a nice waterfall and a pool decent enough to swim in so we spent an hour or so there before heading back. They generally give you a packet of cheese crackers as biscuits over which is bizarre so we decided to throw some of them into the coconut palm attached to the house. It was for the squirrels but to our delight it attracted a family of brown monkeys so we had an amusing hour watching and feeding them. In the evening we got a tuc tuc into Ella and had dinner at Chill on the Top Deck. Away on the us in the morning to Mirissa on the South Coast. Leaving the mountains for the beach 😪😄

2 July 2017

ELLA We were up earlier today and ordered breakfast later so we could walk to Little Adams Peak. We wandered up through the town and picked up the track meandering through tea plantations before the rise to the summit. Lauren fell in love with every dog she met as usual. At the summit we took some photos and Lauren frightened me to death wanting to stand on every 'death fall' rock. She also fell in love with a green eyed puppy. Was a beautiful walk and staggering views. We stopped at a posh hotel nestled into the plantation called 98. All the well dressed beautiful people were having breakfast and we walked in and ordered a couple of fruit juices. We sat on bean bags looking out at the surreal view. Lauren said, "Everybody looks so clean." 😂😂 And they did! Back for breakfast and moved out to the Treehouse Pearl. OMG we thought we'd died and gone to heaven. It's so cool and chilled we just stayed there and breathed it all in. Trying to negotiate another night it's such a tre

1 July 2017

ELLA We were up with the Jungle chorus and after a quick breakfast we headed for Ella Rock high in the distance. The guy at the guest house gave us directions and we walked along the railway track before cutting into the forest. A quick coconut at a little hut and a chat with the baby before heading up towards the peak. We were lost very quickly unfortunately but a local guy came to save us and took us to the top and back. I think he'd deliberately sent us wrong earlier so he could get us on the right track and ask for money. We have him 500 rupees but he wanted double. It was a tough climb but the views were spectacular. We both ache. We popped to Chilli for a late lunch and had a chip and wedge baguette washed down with the best iced mint tea ever. It was back into Chilli and the top deck, sat on bean bags drinking Lion beer and eating great food by candlelight. Lauren saw a guy she knew from uni but couldn't remember his name. We also saw Siobhan from uni. They're all here!!!
ELLA I woke early and sat on the veranda watching the jungle and the mountains spring into life. We left after breakfast and they gave us a bag of mangosteen and lychee tied with a red ribbon to go with. They'd been feeding us exotic fruits from the garden and they were our favourite. We dragged our cases up the hill to the bus stop and caught the 18 Government red bus to Hatton. We pulled the bell chord to stop opposite the train station and walked over the bridge to bag 2nd class tickets to Ella. The train was half an hour late but we were soon underway and the 4 hour journey was spent marvelling at the stunning mountains and tea plantations. The scent of fresh tea drifted in and out as we passed the tea factories. We arrived in Ella around 5pm after snacking on the fruit, roti, samosa and spiced peanuts. Tuc tuc to Ella River Front and an amazing balcony view of Ella Rock and Little Adams Peak and the jungle valley below. Curry, beer and Devilled chicken at Chilli for food.

29 June 2017

KITHULGALA Woke up to the lovely sounds of the jungle and a beautifully warm day. After breakfast we went White Water rafting. A tuc tuc picked us up and we went to the centre to pick a helmet and life jacket up before throwing the dinghy on the roof of the tuc tuc and heading down to the river. After a short briefing and a quick practice we headed down river for a few kilometres. The Rapids were great fun and we were thrown about quite a bit before jumping in and floating through some slower Rapids. We had a jump off a Rock into a deep section of the river although Lauren couldn't do that because of her Vienna coccyx!! All in all it was a really great couple of hours in amongst the most beautiful scenery. We had traditional Sri Lankan curry buffet for lunch at the restaurant above the hotel and it's our food of choice. We ate with the locals who only use their right hand but we used cutlery. A little walk, pool and chill before another lovely dinner cooked by Mama.

28 June 2017

NUWARA ELIYA Woke up frozen and had breakfast in the workhouse style kitchen at the back. Our driver picked us up about 8 am and we visited the Old Mackwoods Tea Plantation which was great, the smell of fresh tea was so lovely, like freshly mown grass. He showed us some waterfalls and great views and dropped us at the train station for the noon train to Hatton. 2nd class tickets were 30p each for the 2 hour journey. It was lovely yet again and we arrived in Hatton looking forward to Getting to Kithulvilla and jumping in the pool. Expecting a quick tuc tuc ride our hopes were soon dashed and a tuc tuc ride to the bus station and then an hour and a half packed bus ride to the hotel was the reality. After being shown around it was all well worth it. A beautiful villa and gardens with an infinity pool overlooking the jungle clad mountains. Surrounded by nature its ethereal. The old Mama cooked us noodles, sweet & sour chicken and creamy potato curry which was a taste sensation. Happy

27 June 2017

NURWAYA ELIA A more leisurely start today as our train did not leave Kandy until 11.10am. We had breakfast on the verandah looking at the mountains and Bernard dropped us at the Railway Station. The train journey was a 5 hour delight through towering forested mountains and undulating tea plantations. We ate savoury spiced snacks and dried chillies and tried fresh mango sprinkled with salt. We arrived in Nurwaya Elia cold and damp and jumped in a people carrier. The driver phoned our accommodation and told us that we should have got off at Hatton, a 3 hour drive through the mountains. No more trains today so we decided to stay in Town and get the train back tomorrow at noon after a tea plantation tour and a look at some of the waterfalls with our newly adopted driver. He took us to Princess bungalows and negotiated a half price deal. Dinner at Milanos and bought little Buddhas, pens and earphones, something we've been meaning to do for ages. So a good bad day after all. So Cold!

26 June 2017

KANDY Up at 5.30am and something we have to stop. Tuc tuc to the bus station where we bought vegetable roti and fed the resident deer custard creams. They were so tame and the fact they were there just seemed bizarre but we are in Asia!! The bus was packed for most of the 5 hour journey to Kandy and it was not the most comfortable, particularly for Lauren and her back was aching by the end. We arrived in Kandy high in the mountains to heavy rain and soon got a tuc tuc but struggled to find the guest house we'd booked on Airbnb. Eventually we got there and met Bernard our host who showed us around the accommodation clinging to the mountain side high above the city. We had a walk around the lake and had a look at the Temple Of the Tooth. A bird dropped a huge load on Lauren's forehead and coat as we walked 😂. Fed up of curry we bought avacado, bread and eggs, cooked ourselves a meal and ate it sat on the verandah overlooking the mountains and the city. Got train tickets luckily!

25 June 2017

UPPUVELI Up early again for yet another boat, no delicious hot rotis this morning they were closed so we headed off out starving. I walked with Lauren to the dive centre and they said that the two dive sites were good for snorkelling so I went along. The first site was a sunken religious site beneath the Hindu temple high on the rock above. Lauren didn't rate it but the snorkelling around the ricky was better than yesterday. The second was a cave dive just outside TRINCOMALEE which Lauren really enjoyed. There was only us on the boat so it was a VIP trip topped off by a stop on a sleek catamaran being skippered by the divers mate. After a grand tour we headed back to shore. A lovely morning we both enjoyed together! Curry buffet lunch at Crab for two starving albinos was just perfect. We had a drink at Fernando's with Danica who was pursuing a dive instructor then we had king prawn dinner and beer at Waves. Absolutely delicious and the right way to end our stay in UPPUVELI.
UPPUVELI Up early again for another boat trip to Pigeon island, about 20 minutes away in the Bay if Bengal. Before we left I picked up 6 hot vegetable rotis up from Crab restaurant on the road behind. The journey across was so bumpy and not great for Lauren's coccyx. It was pretty much tourist central to be fair and it was very windy so we had a snorkel on both sides of the island and managed to see a couple of shark and some beautiful fish before heading back across the bumpy ocean. Had a great view of the unspoilt coastline on the way back. Spent the afternoon chilling on the beach and booked Lauren a couple of dives for tomorrow. I so want to go with her but need to hold on to my ears. We took a tuc tuc into TRINCOMALEE to get some cash and then headed for rice n curry, recommended by so many people. It was an 8 curry buffet and the place was buzzing. Great music, great food, great concept. We really enjoyed it before another beach walk back that you would never tire of ❤️

24 June 2017

UPPUVELI Up at 5.30am to get the boat and head out to see the Dolphins. It was sunrise and the beach was deserted. We saw so many dolphins but they were there and then gone in seconds. They seemed to be playing chase with the boats which was good but after a couple of hours on a lively ocean we were ready for getting our feet on solid ground. We chilled in the cabanas most of the day and had a walk and a swim at Sunset. Lauren met a few girls from uni on the beach which felt very surreal. In the evening we met up with Danita and went looking for crab curry at the Crab restaurant. Found a Crab restaurant in the grounds of a posh hotel at the end of the beach. No crab curry so we ordered other crab dishes and it ended up being a wallet emptying disappointment. Back to great local Sri Lankan dishes for us. A steady walk back down the beach under the stars was the end to another lovely day. Up early tomorrow for the boat to Pigeon island.

23 June 2017

TRINCOMALEE We were up early for breakfast and then tuk tuk to the road junction linking DAMBULLA with TRINCOMALEE. Met Danita there and the bus arrived about 5 minutes later. A Government bus packed with locals and it was friendly and breezy with all the windows open, such a great way to travel. The journey was a very pleasant one with the scenery mainly National Park and small villages. SriLanka is a delight to travel, so compact and easy. We arrived in TRINCOMALEE a couple of hours later and a 10 minute tuc tuc ride and we were checking into Orion Beach. A fan oven room in the back of a side street flea pit was not a good start. We looked around and got a great room at the beach front Coconut beach and life was balanced again. Told Orion I was old with a chest complaint and would die in their fan oven room. They happily let us leave. Seafood dinner was delicious at Wave on the beach looking up at the stars with the gentle surf lapping only yards away. We're very happy here ?

21 June 2017

SIGIRYA We had breakfast and decided to go for a cycle around a nearby lake that Danita had recommended last night so set off at 10 for a leisurely cycle. It turned into a trek and we somehow managed to cycle to a huge lake nearby called Watta Wewa and it was a 19 mile round trip in 35 degrees heat !! Lovely though passing through villages and paddy fields. We stopped off for a smoothie in a treehouse cafe that was delicious and also were invited into a primary school . The kids were all dressed in their school uniforms and sang us a song in English which was so cute. Most children in Sri Lanka go to school and it looked brilliant, so much better than India. We grabbed a spicy samosa to recharge our batteries. When we reached the lake we had a cup of tea in a posh hotel and it was sterile and boring. The lake was nothing special and some cows were branded with the hotel name 😡 Not for us and we left. Sprinted back for curry in the village. East coast tomorrow and can't wait ?
SIGIRYA Nature Park Villa is so great we've booked another night. I fell down the stairs and cut my arm but apart from that it's an amazing place and Sigirya is a small village in rural Sri Lanka that has just enough going on. After a lovely breakfast we took the bikes out again and rode past Sigirya rock to Pidurangala a rock cave temple that has a summit on the same elevation as Sigirya but is less touristy and more difficult to get to the summit. We also met Danita who we'd met in Anuradhapura. She'd been up and said it was great. After a chilled afternoon we rode into the village and bought vegetable roti and other Sri Lankan snacks, some drinks and headed up Pidurangala to watch the sunset with a picnic. The trek up was indeed hard and the last bit was a scramble to the summit. We had an amazing couple of hours with unbelievable views and the feeling of being on top of the World. Rode back in the dark and met Danita in the village for a few drinks. Rode back a bit tipsy ?
DAMBULLA After breakfast we grabbed a tuk tuk to the Old Town bus station and jumped on an old air conditioned coach heading for Kandy. We were told we could jump off at DAMBULLA. 600 rupees £3 for us and the bags that took up another seat. A couple of hours later we pulled up on DAMBULLA High Street and immediately negotiated a tuk tuk to take us to the caves and Golden Temple and then drop us off in Sigirya. The Temples cut into caves were a trek to get to but OMG they were so atmospheric. A lovely couple of hours absorbing a real treat. On the way out Lauren spoke to a guy who gave her a stone and read her palm. Scarily he got everything right and not once asked for a penny. He really made an impression. On the way to Sigirya we stopped at a herb farm which was a pleasant stop and they gave us a head, shoulder and back massage. Onto Sigirya and what a delightful little place. Hired bikes and had vegetable curry for dinner. Stay extended to 3 nights. Nature Park Villa ❤️

20 June 2017

ANURADHAPURA It was Father's Day, something I'd completely forgotten about and as we had breakfast on the terrace Lauren gave me cards from her and Lucy. Both with photographs on them aimed at making me well up and it worked. It was a lovely surprise, as was breakfast of eggs, toast, jam, fresh fruit, juice and strong hot coffee. Our tuc tuc arrived dutifully at 9am and we agreed a tour of the temples, lunch at the Sanctuary at Tissawewa before being dropped back at the guest house. The temples were arranged over a vast area similar to Angkor Wat but not nearly as much atmosphere. It was the Poya festival and all the Buddhist Pilgrims were dressed in white and carrying flowers and gifts as offerings. Quite nice being around the Festival and the Temples were good to see. We got to the Sanctuary about 1pm and had a lovely lunch in the Old Colonial villa, a legacy from the British rule. Back to the Guest house to cool down before going to Mango Mango for Spicy North Indian curry👍👍

18 June 2017

ANURADHAPURA We were up at 5.30 and tuc tuc to the train station for 6.10. Caught the 6.50am to Colombo and got there about 8.30am. We bought 2nd class tickets for the 6 hour journey North to Anarudhapura before breakfast of delicious vegetable roti, Horlicks and tea in the station cafe. Total train journeys cost £3 each. The journey was a delight winding our way through rural Sri Lanka with the doors and windows open and being joined by guards and locals wanting to chat and know what we were all about. We sampled a few of the different food offerings from vendors hopping on and off the train. We got to Anarudhapura about 4 and got a tuc tuc to Andorra Rest House, our home for 2 nights. A lovely guest house with a huge floor to ceiling window in our room overlooking paddy fields and rain forest. We chilled and settled before walking into town for more vegetable curry and smoothies. A tuc tuc home looking at the unbelievably bright stars was the end to a really lovely day.

17 June 2017

WAIKKAL SRI LANKA We grabbed an early breakfast at the Old Lady's restaurant across the road and took a tuk tuk the 13km to Waikkal where we booked into the Lighthouse Yoga and Meditation retreat. Treated to a lunch of simple vegetables and rice we awaited the arrival of our Yogi Nicholas who turned up with three worn yoga mats and invited us onto the breeze block and concrete roof terrace. Where was the garden and yoga studio on the website and where was the Ayurvedic doctor assessment? The Doctor was his wife who had just had their first child and the pictures on the website were of the old place. Further probing on what was being offered led to us to cancel before a muscle was stretched and an unhappy Nicholas packed his mats and rode off into the sunset. We had great curry at a village curry house before enduring one night with the cockroaches in a tired old room. Up at 5.30am tomorrow to escape on the train to Colombo and then train to Anuradhapura hopefully. Liberated!!

15 June 2017

NEGOMBO SRI LANKA Didn't wake up until half 10 Sri Lankan time and couldn't believe it when dad was still asleep as well. Must have been shattered ! We got up and went and had a smoothie at the fruit shack we have found on Lewis place and it was great. I had banana and pineapple and dad had mango. The guy at our restaurant last night recommended the fish market so we got a tuk tuk there and dad walked a couple of steps in and walked straight out. We were in there for about 10 seconds but the smell was so disgusting we had to leave ! Wandered around the streets and watched some school children reciting the bible at St Mary's Church. There are canals built here from when the Dutch were here so it was quite pretty looking around. Curry for lunch and another curry for dinner with a grilled fish. There's a pregnant cat at the restaurant that I really like and dad gives her evil glares because he hates cats! Yoga retreat tomorrow and a balancing of the mind and spirit. Both excited!

14 June 2017

NEGOMBO SRI LANKA The fight from Birmingham turned out to be really good. Three seats each on the 6 hour first leg to Doha was a pleasant surprise and the second leg to Colombo was seamless and we slept for most of it. We grabbed a taxi and the 10 kilometre drive to Negombo beach gave us a flavour of Sri Lanka. A more polished and less chaotic India was the concencus. The Angel inn, our home for 2 nights was clean and metres from the beach so we settled in and chilled for most of the day. At Sunset we had a wander down onto the beach to watch the Sunset before dinner. I think we must have been the only tourists on the beach and we watched the acrobatic local children playing in the surf or playing cricket on the beach. The sea was crashing in and we had heavy rain earlier in the day so moody and romantic is what it was with a good slice of theatre. Dinner at Sea Joy was fresh, spicy prawns and a selection of vegetable curries. Washed down with cold beer at a staggering £12

13 June 2017