United Kingdom, Sri Lanka · 14 Days · 16 Moments · January 2019

25 January 2019

On our last full day, we ventured 15 minutes west of Unawatuna to Galle. It’s an old Dutch Fort, and relatively nice as it seems to be the only part of Sri Lanka which doesn’t contain shanty homes - just real building, made from brick. It was still horribly hot at 39c, but we wanted to get out and about even with the suntan. After having a look around the old ramparts, the lighthouse, the boutique shops and running in to every cafe to survive dehydration, we ate dinner at a hoppa restaurant with our final few beers. We head home in a tuktuk blaring Ed Sheeran from the speakers, and enjoyed some time in our restaurant bar before calling it a night as our long travel home loomed.

24 January 2019

It’s some sort of heatwave here at the moment, with it being 33/36c all day and all night which is pretty tough. With Amy conscious she didn’t have much of a tan, we went to the beach early in the morning to try and make her look slightly tanned, next to Jamie’s now Sri Lankan skin colour. We called it a day by 1PM and went back to our hotel for some tasty lunch. Back in our room, we’d realised that we were both now lobsters...which only got progressively worse as the day went on. Then we stayed on our balcony, reading and applying non-stop aftersun in hope it wouldn’t ruin the last two days we had here. We braved the last few moments of sunlight to walk to Sunset Rocks, which as you can guess is a good place to watch the sunset on some rocks...after a treacherous climb, we survived long enough to have a few beers atop the rocks watching the sun go down. After, we went to this little wrap shop for dinner and got a great table - before bed at 9PM.

23 January 2019

Feeling fresh and sprite, we had an early morning to make the most of the beach we’d fallen in love with and catch a bit of a tan as we’d heard it was snowing in London. We walked to Parrots Rock and Coconut Island - two little islands a short just away from the main beach. At lunch, we checked out and got a tuktuk to Unawatuna, our final hotel of the 8 we had booked on our trip and the one we were most excited about. However, when we arrived they didn’t have the correct dates for us...but we got upgraded for 2 out of 3 nights which is a little victory. It’s got a Emperor-sized bed, pretty artsy inside and is rated as one of the best places to eat in Sri Lanka. Unawatuna is a little sea side town, quieter than Mirissa but with a nice atmosphere. We walked along the beach, bumped in to some people we’d met in Mirissa and then relaxed in the 33c heat planning our last few days. We then argued about where to eat dinner, before settling for veggie curry and a few ‘bears.’

22 January 2019

With a rough hangover, Jamie woke up late in our ridiculously large bed whilst Amy was miraculously fine. We/Jamie slugged our way to the beach where we planned to burn the remaining alcohol out of ours/Jamie’s body whilst sipping on Dioralyte. After a bit of progress, and both getting taken out by a massive wave, we took a stroll down the high street. First, to a weird Sri Lankan/Jamaican smoothie bar, and then to traditional Roti house based in some old ladies back garden which Amy read about in her hours of review searching for the holiday. Roti is a weird, but delicious potato thing mixed with other things - sweet or savoury. Right up Jamie’s carb hungry street, but not sensitive stomached Amy’s street. We dined at the nicest restaurant on the beach, Zephyr for dinner with Jamie having Sprite but Amy on the beers which was a weird turn around and enjoyed the sunset again in our final night in Mirissa, heading back to the room to binge watch Storage Wars.

21 January 2019

After the trauma of the room, we spent a few hours recovering by reading on Tangalle beach, which is known for having expansive, empty beaches and rough waves. When it came to lunch time, we moved on to our next location a little bit further along the coast called Mirissa. More of a party town, with the most amazing beach and sunsets, we were very excited to check in to our hotel just off the beach with a massive bed and no animals to attack us in the night. We explored the beach, before settling down at a bar (Rumba) for a beer each, and front row seats for the sunset. The night escalated quickly from there, as we met these Aussie girls and stayed up drinking with them until late, and tried to set one of them up with the owner of the bar we were at. Not sure whether it worked, as Jamie had to be taken home with a severe case of the hiccups at 2AM before he was sick off the balcony at some uncertain point in the middle of the night.

20 January 2019

Our 5AM start was well worth it, as we set off on safari of the national park, Udawalawe. Just ourselves in the Jurassic Park style 4x4, and our weird driver who (I’m sure) is a serial killer in his spare time, with all the nails on his left hand at least 3 inches long.. We saw elephant families, boar, weird lizard things but the highlight was getting stuck in the mud - just after the serial killer pointed out some crocodiles in the lake. It took an hour to get another jeep to pull us out, but luckily we made it and the killer made up for lost time. We got back to our hotel, had a quick brekkie and set on the way to the beaches of Tangalle. We had an incredible guy who offered us tuktuk Massage, tuktuk Safari and other tuktuk themed experiences. Then drama started when we pulled in to our new hotel, it was a building totally open to the elements, with frogs, lizards and mosquitos everywhere. We looked at checking out, but braved it with the mosquito net and lived to tell the tale.

19 January 2019

As it was our final day in Ella we woke up early to enjoy time reading on the balcony (Jamie’s enjoying his book, hence the large amount of time reading.) Before our 3 hour tuktuk to Udawalawe, the next place on our trip, we went to Cafe Chill for one more dose of the delicious ketchup and some grub and also bought some of Sri Lanka’s notorious Ceylon tea for back home. A big ass tuktuk arrived to take us and we were thrown around in the back as the driver seemed to think he was a rally driver and that it’s a good idea to overtake 3 trucks on the corner of a mountain road.. Poya Day is a national holiday - and with that falling we stopped to pick up some booze as no alcohol is served anywhere on the island and we’ve grown in to casual alcoholics in the past few weeks. Whilst Jamie was buying beer, Amy was approached by every man in this small town. We saw more wild elephants on the drive, and had our favourite curry so far before an early night to brace ourselves for a 5AM start

18 January 2019

With a bit of a hangover, we got up at 10.30AM and enjoyed a chilled out morning reading and looking at our photos on the balcony before we thought we best get out and enjoy the 28 degree sunshine of Ella. We went to Cafe Chill (the place with the ketchup) for some Sri Lankan delicacies of pizza and chips before heading to Nine Arch Bridge. It’s famous for being made only of bricks - as when the bridge was under construction all of the steal was sent to Britain to help with WW1. It’s surrounded by rolling tea-fields and makes for some great pictures. Afterwards, we took the long walk to Ella back down the train tracks before a nice quiet evening reading and eating dinner at Cafe Chill, where we’re now regulars and all the staff come over and say hi to us which is nice but also a little bit weird.

17 January 2019

We’re now in Ella, heading further south for the beaches - we’re staying for 3 nights and wish it was for life. It’s a tiny, laid back town in the tea-lands and the first place (other than the train) which has been touristy. Our hotel looks out across Ella Gap, inbetween Ella Rock and Little Adam’s Peak with amazing views from the balcony and a delicious breakfast. We started off our Thursday by climbing Little Adam which had Amy begrudgingly on her hands and knees climbing in a little black dress. V funny. This is the easiest of the two to climb, with Ella Rock taking 4-6 hours which isn’t really up our street. After the trek, we went back and read on the balcony until sunset, before dinner and a lot of beers... The restaurant/bar we found on the first night is the best we’ve been to here by a mile, and have decided it’s the only place we’ll eat or drink whilst we’re here as it has this incredible tomato ketchup which we’re going to bulk buy to recreate back in England.

16 January 2019

Today was one of the days we were most anxious about. The blue train journey from Kandy to Ella, one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. It’s £1.20 for a 7.5 hour train that took us to our next place. The only problem is that it’s a crazy tourist spot, as we found out when we lined up on the platform with another 100+ white people. The brawl to get a seat wasn’t enjoyable, we got on a station early as we were conscious of our massive suitcase and finding a place for that - but it was still incredibly busy. Luckily Amy got a seat as did the suitcase 🙄 For the rest of the 7 hours, Jamie and a (lovely) guy from another couple took turns in having a seat and hanging out the windows which was great - again Sri Lankan’s have no health and safety standards...it was packed like a London Tube the whole time and just to top of this supposedly fantastic experience, the stretch with the best views was clouded in mist and rain. Overall I’d rate it 3/10. Luckily our hotel is amazing!

15 January 2019

Our scheduled early morning didn’t really happen, and we enjoyed a lie in until 10.30AM. This was our first real day of sunshine, which was sad as we were checking out of one of our nicest hotels, and the only one with a pool. We had to make our way to Kandy, the cultural centre of Sri Lanka and were contemplating getting on a crowded, hot bus for 3 hours. But instead opted for 3 hour tuktuk with our suitcase in the back for just £12. When arriving in to Kandy, we checked in to the depths of hell, a room filled with mosquitos, a broken toilet and the interior of a 1960’s horror film. Went for a lovely stroll around the massive lake in the centre of the city, then found this great restaurant called Empire where we had (another) curry and the boy serving us fell in love with Amy. He obviously forgot about the British Empire and what Amy’s ancestors probably did to his... After, we went to an amazing colonial style bar for a few drinks with classic decor before heading back to hell.

14 January 2019

We had a bit of a lie in, before our trek up 1200 steps to the top of Sigiriya - also known as Lion Rock. A 30 minute tuktuk from the hotel, we arrived at 8AM to begin our assent. The stairs were old, and in no way secure which was scary considering we were effectively scaling the side of a mountain and Sri Lankan’s don’t seem that hot on their health and safety regulations. Our fears weren’t eased by the monkeys we encountered on the way up, keen for a snack. There were incredible views from the top, and impressive ruins of the former fort made it worth while. After, we went a further 15 minutes south to Dambulla Rock Temple which is an ancient Buddhist temple, carved in to the side of a mountain. After climbing another 400+ steps and wanting to cry, Jamie then had to put on a sari and take his shoes off. Making him cry. We got back to the hotel at around 3PM and had a little nap, before dinner and a few Lion Largers in the evening at the hotel.

13 January 2019

The highlight of Jamie’s birthday came when travelling back, where we bumped in to a elephant on the road that had escaped from a nearby National Park. We were just a few metres from it, off the edge of a busy road as it ran down the road away from the poor chap trying to catch it. About a mile later, we saw another two who had a ‘LITTLE BABY ELEPHANT’ in between them, which Amy screamed in Jamie’s ear repeatedly with excitement. These were a little bit more feisty, protecting the little baby elephant and looked like they were about to run at our little red tuktuk. They were incredible to see and all pure luck. We returned to our hotel, the Sevangama where there’s only a few people staying. It’s super quiet here, with not a lot to do in the evening but Jamie was surprised with a delicious birthday cake after enjoying a lovely vegetarian curry and a few beers. And in a weird turn of events, to celebrate Jamie’s birthday the hotel chose to play back-to-back Christmas songs...
We coped well with our early start, especially Jamie considering it was his birthday and a 4AM start was not on his wish list. We got a Tuktuk to Fort Station for our train to Habarana, 5.5 hours away and north of the country. With no 1st Class options, and no reserved seating we had to fight the locals for a seat in 2nd Class. The journey was long, and we were too scared to use the toilet on a train that looked like it was here when Britain colonised Sri Lanka in the 1800s - but it was a nice way to get to the cultural centre of the country, and it only cost £1.50 each. We then arranged a Tuktuk to Polonnaruwa, which is an ancient town with lots of ruins and the former capital. Our driver was great, but a bit weird and took us to view lots of cool places - but also bought us weird street food en route... Polonnaruwa was nice, you cycle around on rusty old bikes and take in the sites - whilst avoiding the roaming monkeys.

12 January 2019

After touching down, with just 3 hours sleep in 24 hours between us we were a little bit sleepy. We ploughed on through, and went on to explore the streets of Colombo... ..which was pretty rough and lacking in character, to say the least. Luck prevailed though, and after passing through Slave Island (an actual place, but no slaves to our knowledge) we found ourselves having a nice evening stroll along the beach. There’s an incredible amount of development happening in Sri Lanka at the moment, especially in Colombo with at least 30 huge skyscrapers currently under construction. Just past all of these building-sites we stumbled across Colombo’s annual Jazz and Food festival, which again is an actual thing. Down a cobbled street we found a pub called the Dutch where we stopped for our first Lion Lager, whilst being serenaded by a Sri Lankan Frank Sinatra and a lady with elephantiasis. What a night. We retired early for bed, with an alarm set for 4AM.

11 January 2019

We ventured to Heathrow T4, more anxious than excited for our time away, not looking forward to the amount of travelling ahead as well as everything being very rushed, to get packed up and out the door. We took the edge off by taking full advantage of the airport lounge and their unlimited complimentary food and beverages, and stumbled our way to the gate. A long, tiresome flight to Muscat followed by our connecting flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka went without any drama. Other than Amy spreading out, taking the window seat, complaining and not letting Jamie get any sleep at all... Our classic inflight entertainment was made up of Deadpool 2, The Incredibles 2 and the Notebook for Amy. As well continuing to eat and drink obviously, with Amy tucking in to and enjoying her first vegetarian meal in the sky.