Beachside again! Firstly, more culture in the ancient city of Polonnawaru, followed by a return to Kandy for shopping and sampling KFC and more local fare. Otto went a bit with the ketchup to accompany his rice and omelette (the staple fare in the local spicy rotti/curry restaurants)
We were considering moving on from Kandy to a rafting resort, Kitugala, but after costing everything up: taxis - £75; accommodation - £100; rafting - £60, and checking how much we'd spent already we realised we needed to cut down a little. So instead we took the train down to Galle for Unawatuna.
The train was a journey of two halves. We set off to get the midday train from Kandy which turned out to be running 3 hours late with a strong possibility it would be cancelled, so we booked an expensive seat on the exporail carriage leaving at 3 instead. When I say expensive, it was £7.50 for the 3hr journey.
We had the best seats on the train, right at the front of the exporail carriage 1C and 1D if anyone ever takes the same trip. Huge legroom (wasted on us, but useful for making floorbeds for the kids). Fantastic views and you can keep an eye on your luggage (not that anything seems likely to happen to it here). Air con. Movies. Free tea and coffee. Free chocolate muffins - my absolute favourite treat ever). All in all a pleasureable experience.
But it was all change in Colombo. Mikey left the children, the bags and me on the platform whilst he went to buy tickets and for twenty minutes we watched countless trains filled to the brim, leaving with some pandemonium from the platforms: commuters jumping down onto the tracks to race over to moving trains, jostling to hang onto a doorway handle which already had about 20 people hanging off, and every possible space inside the carriages sardine like with bodies.
Friday night at 6pm leaving the capital for the suburbs and then south for the beaches. What were we thinking? Unsurprisingly, we were the only tourists attempting to board our train, but also the only people with kids and the only people with any luggage. It wasn't looking very promising.
However, we made it on after running down to the end of the platform (a good trick learned from London rush hour on the Northern Line). And with the kindness and assistance of lots of people in our carriage we got on. Someone gave their seat up for me so I had both Jessica and Otto on my lap and there was a carriage crowd surf with our bags to find a space for them in the luggage racks up high. We survived with a 20 turn round of ‘the wheels on the bus’ which saw chickens, crocodiles and elephants riding on board. We thinned out a little after a while and were able to get one of the Hudls we've brought with us and Frozen provided the entertainment for the remainder of the trip. Not only for me and the kids but also for the various commuters watching over our shoulders.
Our arrival in Galle, in typical thunderstorm, was then followed by a swift tuk tuk ride to our hotel, Wimals, where at 9pm (9 hours after we set off) the kids were put to bed and we were brought fried rice and cold beer. Phew!
Today the weather has been a delight. I think I've got my first sunburn (the Lady Diana suncream available here is not up to much) but we've had a great day on the beach and in the swimming pool.
We met up with a lovely Dutch family we've been e-mailing and ended the day with cocktails and ice-creams. All is good.
Unawatuna has changed in remarkable ways since we were here 4 years ago. The beach has got bigger - we thought it was a trick of our memories until we spoke to one of the staff at a beachside restaurant who confirmed there was a major re-construction of the beach itself with tonnes of sand being transported onto the beach adding about 30 metres to the tide line. But some of the same hotels and restaurants are still here: Lucky Tuna, Tartagula, Flower Garden, all familiar to us from the previous visit. Lucky Tuna is still playing the Brian Adams album that Ted left for them on the first visit.
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Kelly and Mikey (but mostly Kelly). We sold up in the UK to travel with our two littluns for a year or so. If you want to know more click the about us!