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.
Mikey enjoying an elephant massage in the pool here at Villa 80.
But, it hasn't all been paradise so far: just in case some of you were about to disown us for being smarmy smuger than smug things, we have had a few mishaps already. We should definitely stick to our strengths (lounging by the pool and eating nice food).
I attempted a walk to the bank yesterday and with my famously bad sense of direction, walked the wrong way for about an hour in the heat before a tuk tuk driver rescued me.
Now, I know the Judge family believe me to be good at directions but on!y in a relative sense. That's like the Newitts thinking Mikey isn't clumsy. Anyway, the driver was someone who'd picked us all up before, so he was a bit concerned to see me so far out of town without the children. When I told him I was looking for a bank, he laughed before informing me that the c!osest one in the direction I was walking was 20km away!
Mikey, luckily, had some success later when he borrowed a bike and cycled to the bank (only to leave his bag, with the £500 he'd withdrawn in a biscuit shop). The shop owner chased after him to return the bag so all is good. Lucky for us there are always people to guide us and help when we need them. And these instances just seek to prove how good the vast majority of the people in the world are.
We move on tomorrow, altgough we are sad to leave Villa 80, our visas and passports are back so it's time to move slowly to Arugam Bay where we hope to stay for around a month.
Before then, Mirissa and Udawalawe. Wish us luck with the directions!
The new home is expensive but amazing. $90 a night is 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!
We are now c!oser to Bentota, and this coupled with the fact that it is the weekend made our trip to the beach today more like celebs greeting the paparazzi. I knew the children were bound to get a lot of attention with them being so fair but they weren't quite sure what to make of it. No pictures mummy was shouted quite a lot but they may have to get used to it. Everyone was fascinated by both of them and very friendly and warm to all of us. We managed to get one reciprocal photo back with one of about 20 families we got talking to.
The people of Sri Lanka have been nothing but warm, friendly and kind to uu, which has reaffirmed our decision to take this year off travelling with them. They both have some way to go before they are comfortable being picked up by strangers but hopefully this trip will give them confidence that people all over the world are lovely.
Day three in Sri Lanka and already Jessica is calling ZumDeutschen 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.
It rained on and off all day yesterday but the sun has now come out. So we've spent all morning in the pool - or rather what was left of the morning , Jess and Otto have been sleeping till about 9:30/10:00. Bonus lie in thank you jet lag! Then the afternoon on the beach with the grazing cows (a big hit with Jessica and Otto)
The pool is shared with a kingfisher and there is a rather large monitor lizard and a few mongoose in the garden also - ,which the kids think is great. The beach is a five minute walk and is very quiet as we're about 3km south of the main Bentota beach where all the big resorts are.
Let's hope the sunshine stays around for a bit longer.
And so the four intrepid travellers set off: at rush hour; through London; to take the tube to Heathrow; to board a ten hour flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka. It was a less than auspicious start: Otto threw a huge tantrum in the middle of a road near London Bridge, then threw up on the Piccadilly line. Jess saved her vomit until half an hour in to the four hour, 30°c taxi ride at the other end of the journey (Colombo to Bentota). Fortunately - only for the taxi driver- all over my jeans.
We eventually arrived at ZumDeutschen guest house, south of Bentota and just inland from the beach. It was bucketing down, monsoon style and a quick weather check confirmed it was raining in the whole of Sri Lanka for the next week at least. A slightly underwhelming arrival but things were soon to improve...
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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!