So we leave Sri Lanka tonight for Thailand. The first leg of our adventure over already. And in this last fortnight till we have discovered the two most beautiful beaches in the whole of Sri Lanka (of course we haven't seen more than maybe 5% of the beaches so there could be more spectacular ones but these two topped it for us) .
The first Dalawella, in the photo above. It was the nearest beach to our rented home from home which was inland from Unawatuna.
With a natural shelter of rocks and reef from the Sri Lankan surf which formed a millpond like swimming pool, at low tide it was perfect for us. Add to this the decent surf break beyond the rocks, turtles swimming three metres from the shore, a beach hut ten steps from the sea, two good restaurants (one of which with real stone baked pizza) and lots of sunshine. A recipe for total bliss. Thanks to those who recommended it along the way (Lisa from the great fb group families on the move: who we met in Unawatuna).
The second perfect piece of paradise: Hiriketiya, just south of Dickwella. Again a small cove and quite secluded, this time so small and hidden it was like a secret find. Except everyone who's been there rates and recommends it so highly it won't be secret for long.
Thanks this time to the German couple we met in Sigarya who we bumped into in Galle one rainy day who let us in on the secret.
Hiriketiya is perfect. It has the obligatory coconut palms and a narrow opening of the headline at either side making it fairly sheltered for good swimming in a low swell. It also has two good surf breaks that saw Mikey battling his first waves proper of the trip. After a break of about 15 years from surfing the six foot pounders meant lots of falling off but he did get up (albeit briefly on lots).
The vibe here (I hate that word but it fits) was warm, relaxed, welcoming and friendly. We stayed at Marty's beach house with its immaculate four poster beds and all fresco hot showers it was our bit of a splash out for my birthday but was well worth it. Marty and his wife, George are Aussies from Bondi, who have been there for almost a year now and they have a great set up. Dinner on long tables all eaten together encourages a super friendly gathering of lovely people. Thanks to everyone for making my birthday so wonderful. Ross and Jo, from St Reatham, for the magazines and the Arrack! Andy and Alexandra, from Munich, for the good humour and the dark rum (Mikes had a very lazy day in a hammock after the celebrations). Celia and Lars, from Berlin, for great conversation, and looking after the kids perhaps better than we were! And Paul from Dublin for giving Mikey an ear to vent his football chat to finally.
We've had next to no WIFI for two weeks now but we are back in connection with tinterweb so finally can keep you updated on what we've been up to and where we are. Since we last posted we've rented a holiday home in the jungle a short tuk tuk ride from an awesome beach Delewella.enjoyed living as a family home again and are now back in a hotel if you can call 3 rooms by a beach a hotel.
We celebrated Otto's second birthday in style and have picked up a number of new toys from the kindness of strangers. Thanks go out to the lovely Swedish couple who gave us Sri Lanka Santa as he has been christened.
Also huge thanks to the guys at Black and Whites in Unawatuna for making the party so wonderful. And to Manjula at Wimals for surprising us with the balloons and birthday wishes on the door for when we returned from the beach.I can't believe we only have such a short time left in Sri Lanka. Here's some pics to explain the rest of our goings on in the past two weeks.
We've been here in Arugam Bay for a week now and although we're probably not going to stay for the month as we once thought (weather is definitely on the turn) we're settled for at least another few days.
We've almost been here long enough to feel at home. We have a lovely tuk tuk driver, Fazreem, who has been taking us to all different local sights and we've found a lively evening eating establishment - Beach Hut - where the food is good and cheap (£1.50 - £2.50) and there's endless cold beers on tap.
Here are the highs and lows of the last week:
Peanut Farm beach: swimming on a deserted beach when the raucous trumpet of a wild elephant was heard. The very same large, male, tusker who had visited the day before and plodded straight through the wall of the kitchen in the cabanas there, eaten all the food and protested at the amount of plastics by kicking it all out. Eco-warrior Elephants! Most animals would be if given the chance I guess, but it takes one the size of an elephant to make a real impact!
I'm trying not to worry excessively about the dangers the kids may face on this trip, but I did find myself frantically looking for an escape route for if the beast appeared. Could I beat a stampeding elephant to the steps of the tree house whilst carrying Jessica? Or should I take my chances swimming deeper into the ocean? Can elephants swim? Can elephants climb rocks? Can elephants be subdued by cute blonde haired kids?
Thankfully, I didn't have to find out any answers as he never appeared.
Panama and crocodiles: about 15 of the prehistoric reptiles, just lazing in the river we were walking by. One of whom was around 7ft long and could have easily eaten Otto in one snap of the jaws. Cue excessive worrying mother in me again!
Whiskey point: being served omlettes by the Sri Lankan spit of Martin Hunt. There's now a plush hotel with swimming pool here, where 4 years ago there was just a platform for the beach parties!
One low point was they wouldn't let us use their luxury pool - not even after Jessica cried her eyes out. Nothing was to work on the stony faced staff members.
One other low point was Jessie left her cat backpack in a tuk tuk a few days back and it's now lost, with it her favourite toy horse, Cola and the family photos we'd brought with us of the whole Newitts, Hunters and Judges.
On the flip side though. More highs last night and today. We met a great fun English family who are driving a tuk tuk round Sri Lanka in their half term. Tony, Joanne and their kids, Lucy(5) and Christopher (7). Lucy has given Jess her pink, Disney princess bag so Jess is happy again. Hopefully we'll hang on to this one for longer than 3 weeks!
Released a turtle into the sea today at Pottuvil Point that had been caught in the fishermen's nets. And watched the fishermen dividing a catch of probably 40 or 50 sting rays.
Here's how happy Mikes was driving Tony's tuk tuk...
Day 3 in paradise...
Well, day 1&2 were in Hotel Paradise - which was anything but. Just a dark, cramped, family bungalow with the main road as our, not so beautiful, vista. But thankfully we've now moved to Paradise Sands Hotel which is more what we were hoping for when we ventured out on the 4 day trip here to the East Coast.
We now have a beautiful cabana on the beach and a few hammocks to relax in!
Arugam Bay is an eclectic mix of Aussie accented Sri Lankans calling "g'day mate!" as you pass them in the street and white people attempting to surf with varying success.
Otto came a cropper yesterday, trying to use the tight rope line as a finish line for his running race. He didn't so much cross through the line as get bounced off it with a major slapdown to the sand. No lasting damage but he may have a nice shiner on the next few photos!
We've found a bar that shows rugby, cricket and football - so Mikes has definitely found his slice of paradise. We got marooned in said bar last night during a monsoon storm reminiscent of the Bacardi advert from years ago which didnt seem too big a problem!
And the sun has reappeared today as well. Yey!
Still waiting to hear confirmation of anyone coming to visit...Shirls - get those flights booked to Phuket in December!
Everyone else who's thinking about it - let us know dates and we can let you know where to book flights to.
Missing you all xx
What a beautiful place this is. We had two peacocks climbing our outside stairs this morning and a troop of monkeys crossing the wall this afternoon. Jess and Otto tried body boarding today. Jessica was very brave and rode a few waves on her own with mixed success. Otto had a few tears but was still proud to tell everyone he'd been surfing!
We also met some more Western children today: An American couple with a 13 month old boy who were living in Jakarta and a lovely British/Kiwi (Danny) travelling with her daughter, Lola who was 3 and looked the spit of Jessica. It's so nice to meet other people doing the same thing. It's early days for us but I'd definitely recommend travelling with your family. There's no substitute for spending precious time with your littluns.
Friday, we got the express train from Aluthgama to Mirissa. A two hour journey along the coast with beautiful views all the way. Jess and Otto entertained the passengers in our second class carriage, even when they were fighting over crisps, lollies and various other bits of bribary we'd come prepared with.
Initially the train was standing room only - a bit like the Friday night East Coast train out of London Kings Cross...
Even with the ceiling fans...
And the doors open!
At Galle, the train cleared out and we all had seats. Although, thanks to Otto spilling half the packet of Mister Potatoes (aka Sri Lankan Pringles), we had to share the seats with an infestation of huge brown cockroaches. I'm fairly unsqueemish with bugs and spiders but I am terrified of cockroaches. Needless to say, I then provided much amusement to the coach as I hopped around screaming and Mikey went on a killing spree!
We survived it and lucky for us the owner of the guest house we'd booked was waiting on the station for a friend so it was a very easy trip in the end.
We are walking distance from the beach - or shoulder ride distance for the kids. The beach is just as beautiful as we remember it from 4 years ago, although there has been a lot of development; there are now about 20 beach side cafe/bars serving frozen cocktails and fresh seafood food. You can get pancakes for breakfast and chips for tea (much to the kids delight). The waves are great for body surfing, not so good for swimming but Jess and Otto have enjoyed being thrashed about, jumping in the waves. Next stop elephants at Uduwalawe.
We've had an amazing stay here at Villa 80 thanks to Henry (our host and surrogate Grandad for the kids) but, it hasn't all been paradise so far: just in case some of you were about to disown us for being smarmy smugger than smug things, we have had a few mishaps already...
So after a few more days we decided to make our first move.
Only a few miles down the beach but we felt we wanted a treat. The new home is more expensive but amazing. At $90 a night it's more than our budget but we did get to watch England's disappointing performance in the rugby. Mikes could rant forever about it, but let's just say at least we don't have the hassle of constantly looking for a way to watch England at 12:30am now. Even the Arrack didn't soften the blow!
It's day three of our big family adventure and we're in Sri Lanka; already Jessica (our 3 year old) is calling Zum Deutschen home. As we were walking home from the beach in the dark last night she asked me if we were nearly in our garden. I knew children were adaptable but 3 days to forget about our old deck in Tooting was quick - I hope she doesn't expect every home to have a swimming pool from now on!
And so the four intrepid travelers set off: at rush hour; through London; to take the tube to Heathrow; to board a ten hour flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka.
We knew travelling with two kids under 4 was going to be tough and we were full of doubts as to whether we'd last two years on the road but we were nonetheless excited to be finally en-route.
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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!