Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Sri Lanka - Negombo and Kandy

Highlights

  • Playing with the kids on the beach, finding naughty pinchy cribs and pippies
  • Making friends at Sweet Cinnamon and discovering the cinnamon, coffee, mango, lemon and avocado trees
  • Hanging out by the pool at Queen's Hotel in Kandy, looking up at the blue sky through the frangipane trees while the boys splashed about in the pool
  • BBQ on the beach
  • Both meals at Serendib in Negombo
  • Arriving at Sweet Cinnamon
  • Squirting at the crows from the pool at The Cove
  • Listening to Triple J's Hottest 100, particularly Daft Punk's Lose Yourself to Dance & Get Lucky, Lorde's Royals, and Vance Joy's Riptide. 
  • Realising we had rarer-than-rocking-horse-poo seats in 2nd class on the train to Kandy!
Thursday 30 January 2014 - Flight from Hong Kong to Singapore, and from Singapore to Colombo

Our pre-booked taxi never turned up, so we got a cab to the Airport Express instead, where we met Jo, Aaron and Ben. Checked in, got the train to HKIA, and made our way to the AmEx lounge where we helped ourselves to the free food and drink. Uneventful flight to Changi, where we got a taxi to East Coast Park in the hope of getting chilli crab at No Signboard restaurant. But because it was CNY Eve, only a fixed menu was available so we went next door. The first of many beers, a big fat crab and lime juices.




Back to Changi for our late night flight. Arrived in Colombo, very easy transit out of the airport to our pre-booked transfer to The Cove.

Friday and Saturday we relaxed at The Cove, enjoying awesome cooked breakfasts each day and hanging out by the pool or on the beach. Lots of communal story reading with Az, lots of communal baths (for the kids!) and every evening we shared our best and worst bits of the day.









Sunday was Ben's birthday, so Jo baked a cake and we put up a few decorations in the living room. 




We went for a long walk on the beach and saw the fishermen sorting out their catch. We also went into Negombo with the boys, got some cash at HSBC, and saw the surprisingly pretty lagoon, and had lunch at Ice Bear Cafe










Tuesday 4 February 2014 - Train from Colombo to Negombo

By Tuesday morning, Jo Gareth and Sydney had headed back to Singapore and Jo Aaron and Ben were on their way back to HK. We set off with the boys in a taxi into Colombo. It was Sri Lankan Independence Day (4th February), so the traffic was really light and many shops were closed. We arrived at Colombo Fort station about 8am, and were faced with a big sign saying ALL FULL. Cue an hour or so of confusion and chaos, while we went from counter to counter and tried to figure out the trains. In the end, we managed to get 2nd class tickets on a non-intercity express train that went to Perediniya Junction (thank god I remembered that random name! every time we asked for a train to Kandy the ticket clerks said no). The Tourist Information office promised to try and get us some cancelled tickets and offered us the (un)attractive package of tickets + a driver for 4 days for about 39,000 rupees (just to put this in perspective, our train tickets cost 380 rupees, about 1.50 GBP each, and we didn't need tickets for the boys....)









Seems like the only way to book tickets in advance is by going to Colombo station, or calling from a cell phone that is connected to a particular network...needless to say, we didn't manage that. However, the Sri Lankan Rail website does allow you to calculate the cost for sending chicks and fish...


Once we had our tickets, we grabbed a quick brekky of curry, daal and roti at the station cafe and bought some snacks for the train. Then we headed to the platform to wait for the train. Having asked the railway employees where the 2nd class carriage would be we waited there, and miraculously got seats in the carriage as soon as the train pulled in. A few milliseconds after we boarded there was a massive scrum of people dashing onto the train - not surprising since seats are first-come first-served. By the end of the journey, both Josh & I and Ross & Felix had an extra passenger on their seats.



We were directly behind the engine unfortunately, so it was quite noisy (the driver sounded the horn every 4 or 5 seconds) and we needed the windows open. The weather was gorgeous, not too hot, just right with the breeze coming in. The views from the train really are gorgeous, it was a fun ride.








Finally arrived at Peredeniya Junction after about 4 hours, and got a tuk tuk to Sweet Cinnamon. It's a gorgeous guest house about 5 mins' tuk tuk from Kandy city centre. The garden is gorgeous, with a mango tree, coffee bush, cinnamon tree, lemons and a clove tree.












We spent the next couple of days at the Botanical Gardens, the Temple of the Tooth Relic and Kandy Lake.
Kandy Lake

Botanical Gardens




Roadside shop


A tuk tuk outside Amaya Hills, where I got a massage and Rossco looked after the boys despite the fact that I forgot their floaties which ruled out our plan of swimming




The War Cemetery

The next day, we had a driver to take us to Nuwara Eliya, a 2 1/2 hour drive away. We had a little puke stop for Felix on the way (the roads were VERY windy) and saw a waterfall on the way. Once we arrived, we tried to ride a pedalo on Lake Gregory (ludicrously over-priced, so we walked away) and tried to get pony rides for the boys (way too much hassle so we walked away). Nuwara Eliya itself was a bit underwhelming actually, but the tea factories we visited were great. The first one was Blue Hills, where the boys enjoyed the playground and we had a short tour round the factory. On the way home, we visited the Labookelie Mackwoods factory. Actually we didn't go in the factory, just headed out of the gate down to the valley behind the factory, so we could wander through the tea bushes.



Ramboda Falls

Kotmale Reservoir
















Pink post office in Nuwara Eliya






















Spent the last day hanging out in Kandy, mostly lazing by the pool at Queen's Hotel
















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