And it's raining!March 17 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌧 43 °F
A long flight, but we’re on the ground. And it’s raining ☔️
A long flight, but we’re on the ground. And it’s raining ☔️
Ah well, our two weeks is up and we’re homewards bound. We’ve had a fantastic time and would highly recommend Sri Lanka if you like scenery, beaches, friendly people and elephants 🐘 😍
We spent a lovely last day relaxing on the beach. It’s been very hot, even right beside the shore and despite being careful all trip, I’ve managed to get sunburnt today 🙄
We had waiter service throughout the day and got great amusement watching unsuspecting people try to get into the sea, Little were they expecting the high waves and strong pull back to into the sea. Once again, I only managed a paddle on the very edge. The others were braver and managed to get past the breaking waves. I was much happier in the pool!
Our tour company, BH tours, hosted us at an afternoon tea party, along with four others who were on a similar tour. One was an older chap who seemed very grumpy, so we’re glad he wasn’t with us! He was surprised that the tour company hadn’t warned him how hot it would be in Sri Lanka....!!!
Andrew, Julie and Dave decides to have one last go in the sea which, for Julie, was one go too many. A massive wave took her down and she hit her head and face on the seashore. Some tissues and an ice pack were needed and hopefully she won’t feel too sore in the morning.
For our final evening, we took our guide Buddhika and his driver, Vimal, out for dinner and we went to a fantastic restaurant right on the sea front. Andrew had a final vegetable curry, whilst I went for more grilled prawns - they really are delicious 😋
So all good things must come to an end and we’re up bright an early for a 6am start for the airport. I hope storm Gareth will have passed through by the time we get home 😬Read more
We were up, out and on the road by 4:45am to make the 90 minute drive to the harbour where the whale watching boats would leave.
We’d heard that the boat would most likely stay out until we’d definitely had a sighting, and yesterday the boat had been out for 6 hours...
Andrew and I both took travel sickness tablets just in case, but in fact the whole trip was pretty smooth, and we made our first sighting within the hour! It’s amazing to even get a glimpse of theses huge graceful creatures, and very tricky to capture in time on camera. I mostly took a bit of video (which I can’t load onto FindPenguins 🙄) but the zoom is somewhat limited! I think Andrew has some great photos though.
There are a fair few boats in the same area, maybe 8 or so, but each tries to keep its distance and not to cut each other up when they move off quickly when a spotting has been made.
All in all, we made about 6 whale sightings, including a view of it’s tail as it dived down on a couple of occasions 😀
This meant that the boat had no need to stay out for too long, and we were back in the harbour within 3 hours. We were all very excited to have seen the whales in relatively close proximity 🐳
Next up was a drive to Galle, a city governed by the Portuguese originally, before the Dutch and then the English took over. The city has an old fortress wall that you can walk around and we did this although by now it was nearly midday and soooo hot! Part way round we found an old colonial style hotel where we stopped off for a cold drink and a use of their toilets 🙈
Julie and I had a look in some of the jewellers and gem stone stores; Andrew and Dave had walked on a bit...!!
It was then time to move on to our final hotel of the trip, where we will spend the last 2 nights. We have a huge room directly overlooking the sea. As I type, I can hear the waves crashing on the shore.
We thought the sea looked a bit calmer here than our previous beach hotel and got ourselves ready to head out for a swim in the sea. Unfortunately, despite the waves looking more gentle than yesterday, they were just lulling you into a false sense of security and no sooner had you got in, than the waves seemed to double in height 😮 I was a coward and didn’t venture in very far. The other 3 did with each one taking a tumble fairly early on - we decided to try the hotel pool instead 😂
Later on, in prime viewing position on the sun loungers, we watched several other people try to make a go of it in the sea, none were successful! We watched an elderly couple go in, completely unaware of the fierce waves which creep up when you’re not looking. I was a bit worried for them, fearing a broken hip or similar and it wasn’t long before they’d both taken a tumble! Luckily the got out ok and also took refuge in the pool!
The waiter tells us that the sea is calmer in the mornings, so maybe we’ll try again then!
Had a lovely buffet dinner in the hotel and now back to catch up on the sleep lost due to our early departure this morning! 💤Read more
No activities today as our guide and driver have a day off. Andrew, Julie, Dave and I spent the morning around the pool. Andrew went on another exploration along the beach; I was happy staying put with my kindle!
In order to mix things up a bit, we later moved to sun beds down in the gardens, facing the beach and sea. It still seemed fairly rough when the waves broke onto the shore, so we didn’t venture in! Instead we had a massage! Well, Andrew didn’t as he’s not keen, but the rest of us booked up a session each for after lunch.
Crickey! Another tiny lady with fingers with the strength of a warrior! Parts of the massage could hardly be called relaxing, but at the end you do feel as if you’ll float out 😀
This evening we had dinner in another local seafood restaurant. We were all slightly taken aback to be seated by the same chap who’d seated us in the other restaurant last night! We wondered if they were linked family restaurants but he said no, he was just helping out his friends on both nights. Tonight’s restaurant was also hosting a retirement dinner for the local chief of police, who arrived as guest of honour with the blue lights flashing on the car!
Time for bed now as we’ve got to be up at 04:15 am, as we’re off whale watching (hopefully 🐳!)
No photos again - very slow internet!Read more
We spent the shortest time ever in the hotel yesterday, around 12 hours from check in to departure! The waiter was very chatty and was keen to talk about recent air disasters, not ideal with our long return flight fast looming 😬
Today was the first of two rest days. We arrived at the hotel around midday, had an orientation wander around the grounds and down onto the beach, before having lunch at the hotel restaurant. The rest of the afternoon was spent lounging round and in the pool and then for a walk in the surf along the long beach in front of the hotel. The waves are very strong and so none of us had the courage to go into the sea, other than to paddle! Maybe tomorrow might be better for sea swimming!
This evening we left the hotel to walk all of 250m to seafood restaurant, highly rated on Tripadvisor. It was a tiny, family run restaurant with only 3 or 4 tables and we were lucky we arrived when we did or we’d have been out of luck!
Having placed our order, the young lad shot off on his motorbike, shortly to return with the ingredients for our dinner! Unfortunately for him, by the time he got back, another couple had arrived and so he was soon dispatched again 😊
The food was delicious, Julie and I had a plate of prawns and Andrew and Dave had fish; all very fresh 😀
We have another rest day tomorrow, so must make sure my kindle is fully charged ☀️Read more
Another fantastic day 😀 We stopped off at a waterfall not too far out from the hotel, and walked the few steps to get to the waters edge. Following this, it was back in the minivan for the drive to Yala where we had lunch (eventually, after a misunderstanding with the waiter, who thought Andrew and I were just ordering drinks 😳)
It was then time for our second safari of the trip 😀 The four of us had the jeep to ourselves again and it wasn’t long before we spotted elephants again 😀 They are just so graceful considering their size and it is mesmerising to watch them in the wild. There were several baby elephants too 😍
We also saw some monkeys, wildebeest, warthogs, mongoose, deer and a massive crocodile! The Yala National Park is also home to a variety of small, colourful birds, of which we saw plenty, and also to leopards, of which we saw none! Our safari driver certainly gave it his best attempt as we drove round trying to spot a leopard, but, unsurprisingly given their secretive nature, it was not to be. We think the safari drivers must be on timed tickets and, as the 3 hour mark approached, he suddenly put his foot down and we were bombing it along the side roads towards the park exit. Apparently, if they miss the official park closing time at around 6pm, then their card is marked and they are banned from driving in the park for a week 😮
Having made the exit just in time, he drove us down to a nearby beach where we had a quick paddle and watched the sun setting 😊
We’v just had a delicious Sri Lankan curry at the hotel and are now ready for 😴Read more
We set off after breakfast for a trip to Lipton’s seat, high up in the hills of Haputhale, about 40 km from the hotel. It was journey full of twists and bends as we slowly made our way higher and higher, eventually looking down on some of the clouds. The final part of the journey up to the vista point was too narrow for the van and so we sped off on tuk-tuks, whizzing past several people who were making the final ascent on foot 😮
The views from the top were stunning and I don’t think photographs really do it justice. We were also very lucky to have a brilliant blue sky as often the peak is covered in mist.
The descent was just as fast paced as we made some quite sharp bends!
It was as we reached the bottom again and set off in the van, that Andrew realised he’d not got his phone! This sent Buddhika, our tour guide into a bit of a spin and he was determined to do his utmost to find it, despite the fact that it could have bounced out anywhere along the tuk-tuk journey! As it happened, it hadn’t bounced out anywhere and was still plugged into the charger back in the room. Oh how we all laughed 🙄
We stopped off at a monastery on the way back. A beautiful historic building now home to just three Benedictine Monks. This meant that you could only view two of the rooms, but there was a lengthy dvd showing you the rest....
The bumpy journey took it’s toll on Andrew’s stomach and we diverted back to the hotel early, leaving Julie and Dave down in the town of Ella.
After a bit of a sleep, Andrew has bounced back ready for tomorrow’s adventures 😊Read more
We were awoken earlier than needs be by some piped piano music!! I was second into the shower only to find there was no hot water left....
However, the day got better after a brief stop at The Grand Hotel, a lovely old colonial style building in pretty gardens. Buddhika, our guide, had spent his wedding night here!
We then set off to board the train to Ella, a three hour journey through some beautiful scenery. We had expected it to get quite cool higher up in the mountains but the sun continues to shine and there was only a small overall drop in temperature. Still no need for the long trousers I’d worn, nor the fleece that I’d carried 🙄
Following a quick hotel check in and a bite to eat, we set off to see Nine Arches Bridge. It was a fairly steep descent, some well structured pavement and steps and some not so much!
The bridge is an impressive piece of engineering with no metal in the structure anywhere! We waited to see the train make its journey back via the bridge but didn’t wait in the end as the train had got delayed somewhere down the line.
We slowly made the ascent although this seemed a bit easier as it felt less slippy going upwards.
We then took the minivan round to the start of a hike known as Little Adam’s Peak!
Buddhika just pointed us in the upwards direction this time! We made it to the summit in just over half an hour, which we felt was pretty good going as it was very steep at the top with lots of slipping opportunities!
Having puffed and panted our to the top, we were impressed to see (amongst many others) a lady modelling a wedding dress...!!!
The views at the top were fantastic and we stayed long enough to appreciate the views, take some photos and get our breath back. Again, with some careful negotiating of foothold, it was quicker on the way down.
Despite being rather hot and bothered back at base, our next activity was an Ayurvedic massage! Andrew declined and spent an hour looking round the shops, which gives a clear indication of how much he dislikes massage 😂 Julie, Dave and I were all floating when we regrouped an hour later. We must have looked a right state as we set off for dinner, because the first part of the massage had involved oils and a head massage - I think I emerged looking like Worsel Gummidge!
Ella is a vibrant tourist town. There are lots of shops, restaurants and bars and we had a lovely meal in one of them, where there was a guitarist playing 😀
Back at the hotel, ( swerving a line up of staff who’d turned out to wait upon a local politician!) a shower was needed to get rid of the massage oils. All in all, a very busy day; think I’ll sleep well tonight!Read more
Today we made the drive through the congested city of Kandy through the countryside and finally mountain roads to Nuwara Eliya. On the way we stopped off at a tea plantation and factory. We had a guided tour around the factory and then a cup of tea to try before a wander around the shop! It was interesting to understand that different processing methods would determine the various different types of tea, even though it was the same leaves being used; in this case producing various black teas. I bought a small box to try at home 😊
We had lunch before setting off again, passing some ladies picking the leaves out in the plantation. It looked a thankless task! They get paid per Kg picked.
Arriving at our next hotel, again at the top of a hill, we had a couple of hours to sit out on the balcony and enjoy the sunshine in a cooler temperature, relaxing with our books.
We then drove back down into the town and had a wander around Victoria Park. We were greeted by one of the senior gardeners who took it upon himself to take us on a tour of the park, explaining the various plantings, much of which was developed when Sri Lanka was a British colony. The area is also known as ‘Little England’.
The park was hosting an extended weekend celebration for hundreds of school children who seemed to have been bussed in from quite far distances and all in their pristine white school uniforms. We found ourselves to be something of an amusement to the children many of whom wanted to greet us with a handshake and say hello. Even one of the teachers wanted to take his photo with us! I’m not quite sure why we were such a novelty but they seemed very happy to see us 😂
We had a walk to see the old post office before dinner in a local restaurant.
Tomorrow we’re taking a very scenic train ride into the mountains 😀Read more