China, Sri Lanka · 10 Days · 34 Moments · January 2017

Our re-Sri Lanka visit!

1 February 2017

Breakfast of queens!
Last morning on the south coast πŸ˜”πŸmorning mooch on the beach!

30 January 2017

Talalla Retreat relaxation! Beautiful grounds and perfectly chilled 🌴🌞🌸

29 January 2017

As soon as we arrived at Talalla Retreat, we were itching to get our feet back in the sand and so went straight out for an evening walk to soak in the sunset in a location that is entirely new to us. Talalla beach is pretty much untouched. There are a couple of beach shack type places but otherwise it's a wide stretch of beach that is mostly home to fishing boats, kids playing cricket and cows having a wander! Mirissa 15 years ago, perhaps?!
Sri Lankan public bussing it from Thalpe to Matara. I'd forgotten how insane these buses are! Unfortunately Journi doesn't support video uploads as yet, but if it did you could hear the Sri Lankan music and see the chaos as the bus for busier and busier!
Saying goodbye to Wijaya: we really don't want to leave!! However, I'm sure it won't be that long til we return as being back in Sri Lanka has felt so natural and we've already talked about coming back again. I ❀️ you Wijaya!

28 January 2017

Saturday evening at Wijaya!
The gorgeous Fort Bazaar and Church Street Social restaurant.
Galle town by day!

27 January 2017

Drinks and dinner at Kingfisher, Una! This place is just as good as we remembered from numerous nights spent there, with gorgeous views from their loungers as the sun went down over Una's stupa, great drinks and food. We needed a spot of refreshment as we had walked all the way from Wijaya and had been on a good mooch up the road around Una's shops, so after a lime and soda and a mango milkshake to rehydrate, we hit the passionfruit mojitos. After a disappointing starter of chicken satay that consisted of 3 small chicken skewers and what I am convinced was melted down smooth peanut butter, we enjoyed our mains of seared tuna and shark steak much more and just about had room for a hot chocolate brownie to share.
We decided a change of scenery was in order and set out for an afternoon walk along the beach to Unawatuna.
Lunch! Battered prawns and a mango and passionfruit smoothie: simple and delicious!
It's raining!!! Like, really raining... like monsoon raining... πŸ˜“ Still a delicious breakfast and gorgeous view whatever the weather ☺

26 January 2017

After making ourselves at home in our room, we set back out to the beach where we saw a couple of turtles right up near the edge of the water! We then went in for a snorkel together. Unfortunately the visibility was much lower as it was much more choppy with the afternoon rains, and Phil was having mask issues (when you don't shave for a few days, snorkel masks let in water!) And then another turtle appeared out of the murk πŸ˜ƒ I managed to get Phil's attention and not loose sight of the turtle and once Phil reached us we managed to stick with the turtle for 2 or 3 minutes, but he was moving fast and we lost sight of him near the rocky edge of the lagoon. All in all though, an excellent day's snorkelling! Pizza and calamari for dinner was called for, with some mango and passionfruit daiquiris 🍸 and the infamous Wijaya Arrack Attacks πŸ₯ƒ before we headed back to our terrace to watch the lightning light up the South Indian Ocean in front of us. An amazing day at wonderful Wijaya!! ☺🌴
After lunch we collected the keys to our new room for the next 3 nights. We'd originally asked for a Seafront room, but with these 2 rooms booked up the manager had arranged to put us in what he referred to as "the best room in the house": room 4. It's on the 2nd floor (at Wijaya there are only 2 floors with 3 rooms on each, plus the 2 seafront rooms) and the furthest away from the courtyard, so it looks out over the roof of the restaurant to the sea. It's also a lot bigger with a huge terrace. All in all, a pretty good upgrade considering it's the same price as the room we were in last night!! Happy bunnies! 🐰
After about 20-odd minutes of companionship I lost Trevor in the flurry of a wave that broke on the rocks just on the surface that shelter the lagoon and by the time the foam cleared, he was nowhere to be seen πŸ˜” I took this as a natural end to one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had, and swam back to shore before racing up to shower Phil with verbal diarrhoea about my time with Trevor!! This called for a celebratory lunch, and so the prawn and mango curry I have been salivating about in my sleep for the last 4 weeks was finally sat in front of me, along with Phil's prawn and mango wrap and our mango and passionfruit smoothies. So much mango that the waiter who took our order joked with us about how much mango-based things we were ordering! I just replied that Sri Lankan mangoes are the best mangoes in the world so of course we were eating as much mango as we could, which made him smile from ear to ear 😁
After breakfast, Phil sat up on the top terrace doing Chinese whilst I chilled on a lounger on the beach and then went for a tester snorkel in the lagoon. After a couple of minutes of getting my mask right, remembering not to swim too fast so I didn't get out of breath (breathing through a snorkel means you don't take in as much air), I was wondering if I should be doing this because of the bronchitis I've just recovered from and my lung capacity, etc, AND THEN THE BIGGEST TURTLE I HAVE EVER, EVER SEEN SWIMS PAST ME!!!!!!!! And all was forgotten, and for the next 20 minutes Trevor the Turtle and I pootled around the lagoon as he nibbled on seaweed and glided on the currents. He was completely fine in my presence and seemed happy to come within 2 feet of me: at one point I even let my hand drift across his enormous shell as he cut right across my path. His shell was over a meter long and a good 70cms across. With his head and tail included he was almost as long as me. AMAZING!!!!!!!!
A Sri Lankan breakfast!! Consisting of: String hoppers (one of the first things our landlord fed us when we first moved to Sri Lanka!) Roti Dhal Fish curry Rice flour hopper Pol sambol Hard boiled egg Freshly-baked bread Sri Lankan tea β˜•οΈ Needless to say, Phil was stuffed!! I had delicious muesli, fresh fruits, curd and jaggery, but the photo makes it look like mashed potato gone wrong! Plus, this view.

25 January 2017

More Wijaya as the evening set in ☺ The food was always a reason to come here and aside from snazzy new menus, nothing has changed here. I was feeling delicate (I'm no stranger to a grumpy digestive system) so played it safe with thambilis (king coconut) and a ham pizza. Phil dove straight into his old-time favourite of seared tuna steak accompanied by a Lion beer, and everything was just as we remember it 😊 perfect setting and great food!
We are back at Wijaya!!! πŸ˜ƒ I have been dreaming about coming back here after spending a large chunk of my 30th birthday weekend here (we were based at Jehan's villa down the coast). During our 2nd year living in Sri Lanka we spent so much time down here soaking up the the sun, the sea, the turtles in the lagoon, the cocktails and the food, and despite never staying here (it was slightly out of our budget range at the time), it's somewhere that will always be special to us. This time we decided to stay and, despite the difficulties in getting through to make a reservation, with help from Kathi we booked in for 4 nights. We knew that the 1st night would be in one of their courtyard rooms and the rest in their Sea View room, and arrived on Wednesday afternoon in time for a wander along the beach followed by sundowners in the bar ☺ I actually feel like I'm home. πŸπŸ€πŸ•πŸŒž

24 January 2017

We make it to Christian and Kathi's apartment in Havelock City for a fab sunset! You can really see some of the changes in Colombo skyline from theirs, with the new additions to the skyline including a building being built on an angle (apparently the first in the world - I wonder why no one else has done it before??? πŸ€”) After a catch up over a few drinks on their balcony and a surprise guest appearance from the wonderful Harith we headed out to fabulous Gallery Cafe for dinner 😊 Nothing has changed in this gorgeous Geoffrey Bawa building and the food, drinks and atmosphere lived up to our memories 😊 the evening included amazing Tamarind Martinis where the rim of the glass is coated with chilli powder as opposed to sugar - they are actually amazing - crab and calamari starters, the restaurant's signature Sri Lankan Black Pork curry and a gorgeous Jaggery creme brΓ»lΓ©e, which was the only thing I took a photo of all night as we were too busy catching up and having fun!
Paradise Road!! Where we didn't spend lots of money and I don't break anything... The original shop on Alfred House Gardens has gone and the entire building has been demolished!! It was pretty old and the top floor did feel a bit unstable... but still can't believe the whole old colonial building has gone! The existing branch on Dharmapala Mawatha opposite the town hall has now been extended and has a new section opened next door, and has become the flagship store. The usual fare still exists (hugging salt and pepper shakers, elephant crockery, blue and white tea sets - which of course we didn't buy new mugs of to match the ones we already have) with some added exciting bits such as moonstone napkin holders (we definitely did not buy this as I am certainly not obsessed with Sri Lankan moonstones) and a new Spa Ceylon nook (where I actually didn't buy handwash as they are out of stock!)
We find a new (to us) lunch spot: Mitsy's on Bagatelle Road. Great burger and lamb kebab, if a bit over-salted, but amazing cakes and a great spot for Greek / Mediterranean food.
Runty Madame investigates our bed!

23 January 2017

Dinner with the Moonesinghes! We have been staying with Michael and Liz and their gorgeous kitties, Miss Piggy and Runty Madame, and then met them at the (new) Cricket Club Cafe for dinner. The original was on Alfred House Gardens and was a big expat / tourist haunt, but in need of a bit of renovation. Instead, they've built themselves a whole new building on Flower Road! It's been done really nicely with a courtyard and bar in the middle and a couple of indoor AC rooms off to the sides. We did find it funny though when we noticed the menus hadn't been changed at al - perhaps getting a bit shabby now! πŸ˜‰
I went for a mooch around the Independence Square area. A lot of space has been opened up including new pathways around behind the library and the Independence Arcade that was still in progress when we lived nearby has opened up and is now shops set in a stunning colonial square.
Back at Barefoot! Literally nothing has changed πŸ˜‰ We may have made a few purchases too... the tablecloth we bought looks like it was possibly made by Brenda - it was a sign!
Tuk tuk time!! Liz and Michael introduced us to the joys of 'Pick Me', a new Colombo app which uses real time locations of tuks and taxis to get one to pick you up.
We have arrived!! We had a bit of trouble at immigration when the officer pointed out that the date of birth Phil had put down for my visa was January as opposed to June... a visit to the chief immigration officer's office and a ticking off for not being careful later we were out without any extra charges or arrests! Bandaranaike airport hasn't changed at all and you are still pestered to buy fridge freezers on your way out!

22 January 2017

Nanjing airport during Chinese New Year! We try to fly into and out of Nanjing whenever we can as it's so much closer and so much quieter than Pudong, but I guess for Spring Festival all transport hubs are going to be chocker. Our flight was also delayed by 2 hours, apparently due to 'military activity' shutting down the ATC for half the day... luckily we had 3 1/2 hours transfer in HK before our flight to Colombo so no connections we missed on this occasion!