Kandy: Sri Lanka with a toddler

Kandy: Sri Lanka with a toddler

It has been a long time since I wrote my last post on our Sri Lanka.  It’s because I had to wait until we could make our little announcement!!!

So last time I wrote about our stay in Unawatuna.  From there, we hired a car and driver to take us back to Colombo and from there we took the train onto Kandy.

The weather had began to turn in Unawatuna and it continued to get worse throughout the rest of our trip!  Very unusual for that time of year apparently!  Everyone we spoke to apologised for the weather and was disappointed for us that we weren’t seeing Sri Lanka at it’s best.
It was a shame that the weather wasn’t good for the train journey because we travelled through some amazing mountains with some incredible views.  However, a lot of our views were obscured due to fog and heavy rain clouds. It was still pretty amazing going up through the mountains though!
train ride to Kandy Sri Lanka
While we had been in Colombo we booked our train tickets (a top tip as tickets sell like hot cakes).  It was really so cheap for the train.  We booked 1st class tickets and I think we paid £5 for us both….pretty amazing for a 3 hour journey!!!

We arrived in Kandy in the pouring rain, very dramatic!  Annoyingly, we thought we had the address for our hotel (learning from our mistake in Colombo) turns out we didn’t!!!  The hotel we stayed in is very new and no one knew where it is!  Luckily we managed to get it sorted after not too long and soon we arrived.

Our hotel was the amazing Secret Hotel.  Our special treat since we were staying there for Christmas and Mark’s 30th birthday!
It was tiny with only 5 rooms but it was gorgeous!!  What really made this place special though was the AMAZING staff who were so friendly and couldn’t do enough for us.
The food was incredible too.
Unfortunately pregnancy symptoms were beginning to set in and I had no appetite for a lot of our stay.  Such a shame but Arthur and Mark definitely made the most of it!

So what did we get up to while we were in Kandy?

We visited the very famous temple of the tooth.  According to legend, one of the Buddah’s teeth is there.  It is a truly spiritual and important religious place for Buddhists world over.
Kandy Sri Lanka Temple of the Tooth
Like other Buddhist temples we had seen, the temple of the tooth was very ornate.  This place though was on a whole other level.  It was absolutely massive.  There were so many people lined up to give offerings, mostly flowers and food.
Kandy Sri Lanka Temple of the Tooth
The grounds of the temple were huge and it was such a shame that the weather was bad because they looked like they would be so lovely to walk around.  There are many museums within the grounds.  One dedicated entirely to a famous temple elephant, I didn’t want to go there because the elephant was there stuffed.  It didn’t appeal!

We visited the big shopping centre.  Coming from Seychelles, this was pretty exciting!!  It was huge, there wasn’t loads of international stores but there was a mothercare which we were very happy to visit!!
It was here we picked up a pregnancy test and found out our amazing news later that day!!

We hired a Tuk Tuk and driver for the day and went out to see the elephant orphanage.  On the way mark and Arthur fed bananas to wild monkeys!
Kandy Sri Lanka feeding wild monkey

There are actually two elephant places close to each other.
One is called Millenium, honestly we didn’t love it there that much.  It is set up mainly to give tourists elephant rides which we didn’t want to do.  The elephants there are all rescued from places where they had been working for a long time, I have to say that they all did look very healthy and well fed, and I do think the life they have there is better than the life they had before.  However, I didn’t like that they spent their days giving tourists rides up and down…..just wasn’t for us!

The second place we went to is much bigger, the elephant orphanage.  When we arrived the elephants were down in the river.  This was truly amazing to see, they looked so happy!  Arthur absolutely loved watching them, he was amazed!!  We watched from the restaurant balcony of a hotel, great shelter from the rain!
Kandy Sri Lanka Elephant Orphanage
Kandy Sri Lanka Elephant Orphanage
We watched the staff round them up, quite a task I can assure you and they all marched back up to the orphanage.  We followed shortly after.  This place has had a bad reputation in recent times, but from what we read it is improving there.  It looked quite like a zoo, but just for elephants!  There were places you could pay to feed the elephant or give milk to the babies….again this wasn’t for us!  There was a big area at the back where elephants were out and about, closely watched by the staff of course.  It was quite something to get so close.
Kandy Sri Lanka Elephant Orphanage
From there we were taken to a Spice Garden.  It was free entry and interesting to walk around but the guy was ALL about the hard sale of his products.  We kind of felt like we had to buy something so we ended up with some natural mosquito repellent balm.  Actually pretty useful for us here!

Christmas Eve there was a big special dinner at the hotel. I was so upset because all I could eat was the soup, Mark reliably informed me it was amazing though!!
We got dressed up for the occasion though which was nice to do! Arthur looked so cute dressed up in a shirt for the first time!
Christmas Eve dinner in  Kandy Sri Lanka
On Christmas day (wow that makes it feel so long ago, how are we almost in March already!?) there was a little break in the rain that morning so we went for a family walk with the intention of going round the lake in the middle of Kandy.  Unfortunately the rain soon returned and put a stop to that!!
We went back to our hotel and had a bit of a quiet rest of the day.  Skyped our parents watched a movie.  Opened the presents we had for Arthur.  It was really lovely.
Christmas day in Kandy Sri Lanka

We took a Tuk Tuk up to the big Buddah in the hill.
A nice view from up there and it’s a pretty impressive thing to look at!
Kandy Sri Lanka Big Buddah
The next day was Marks 30th birthday!!!!  I had arranged his birthday present back home in Seychelles (a Nespresso machine he’s wanted for ages!)

We got our Tuk Tuk driver from our day trip to take us to a few more sites.  He took us to this one place, a bit of a viewpoint called ‘Arthur’s Seat’ which was pretty cool! He didn’t know why it was called that but we liked it!
Kandy Sri Lanka Arthurs seat
We also went to the botanical gardens which were so pretty!!  I would definitely recommend a trip there! There was a lot of rare plants and trees from around the world. Including the very rare coco de mer tree which comes from our island Praslin!

It was then time to leave Kandy which was sad, we had a lovely time there!  Finding out we were having another baby there too means that Kandy will always be extra special to us!!

Arthur continued to be amazing throughout this part of our Sri Lanka trip, he had a lovely time in all the different places we visited! Again the pushchair was totally useless so it was all about the Moby wrap!

Our next, and final stop on our Sri Lanka trip was Sigyria!  Stay tuned for my post on that!

Come and follow me!

Why Colombo is a great place to visit, even with a toddler!

We spent just a few days in Colombo but we absolutely loved it! Take a read to see why Colombo is a great place to visit, even with a toddler!

Why Colombo is a great place to visit, even with a toddler

It gets a little bit of a bad rep as a tourist destination, but for us it was super exciting! Coming from our little island in the Seychelles and never having been to Asia before, Colombo had a lot to offer us!

Compared to the rest of the places we booked for our Sri Lanka trip, accommodation in Colombo was fairly pricey (but still so cheap compared to the Seychelles).
For this reason we opted to stay in a guest house, self catering.
This ended up being perfect for us, it really made us get out and explore our options and see the real Colombo not just a nice shiny hotel.
We stayed at the Cheritan Residences and it was really very lovely.  A recently refurbished colonial house, our room was huge, and very reasonably priced.
Why Colombo is great to visit even with a toddler!

We were in a very safe part of town, in walking distance of banks (good reliable places to exchange money!), the lovely Viharamahadevi park, the very pretty town hall, art gallery and national museum.

image

image
A couple of recommends for restaurants in Colombo:
Upalis: a Sri Lankan restaurant. I’m almost loathed to recommend this as our service was very poor compared to any we received throughout our whole Sri Lanka trip (our only negative experience with this) but the food was truly delicious. We had the sampler dish where we got to try lots of the different traditional dishes.

The Mango Tree: a North Indian restaurant. We had this as a take away after we had been to the cricket, Arthur was very tired and needed to get home to bed. The food was absolutely amazing. We loved it. Mark picked it up from the restaurant and said that it looked very nice to sit down and eat too.

Barefoot Cafe: This place is awesome, a hotspot for tourists and locals alike!  Food was great and the atmosphere was cool and relaxed!  Sunday afternoons they have live music, a must visit!  The outside eating area was great for Arthur to run around in. The Barefoot shop is amazing too, they sell really lovely stuff!!
Barefoot Cafe, Colombo Sri Lanka

Something that pleasantly surprised me every day was just how friendly the Sri Lankan people were. I think Arthur was a big help with this, everyone loved him! We didn’t really notice a lot of tourists, particularly in the area we were staying. I think a lot of westerners tend to avoid Colombo as they feel there’s not much to offer, possibly another reason why people were so friendly to us!?The few tourists that we did see were all there for the Cricket. England were playing Sri Lanka for the last match of a 1 day cricket tour. We had tickets to see that too. I don’t like cricket but after going I TOTALLY get the appeal of going to see it live. We had so much fun!

image

image

I’m aware this is such a ‘Mum’ thing to say but being able to easily use a pushchair was fantastic, pavements are 100 x better than we are used to in Seychelles.

Tuk Tuk drivers. Where to start? These guys may be the biggest reason why I loved Colombo so much. The traffic there is definitely crazy, but these guys cut through it like a hot knife through butter!! They find gaps that every time I was sure we would never fit through, there was definitely more than one occasion where I just had to put my hands over my eyes because I was sure we were going to hit someone! Seriously these guys have got balls, there’s no patiently waiting, it’s GO GO GO all the time!!
Tuk Tuk Colombo Sri Lanka
Arthur absolutely LOVED going in Tuk Tuk’s. We would put him in the Moby wrap whenever we went in one so that he was nice and secure!
Tuk Tuk In Colomb

I think what I loved best was the drivers trying to push their luck with the prices. Apparently you are supposed to use a meter in Colombo but not all did and we learned very quickly that the prices they set were easily knocked down….we found it quite addictive and found ourselves often haggling over 50 rupees, which is about 25p!! It wasn’t the price that really mattered to us it was the fun in the bargaining!!

There is lots to see and do in Colombo, in the short time we were there as well as what I’ve already mentioned we also squeezed in:

Two Buddhist temples: Gangaramaya a massive temple and Buddhist museum. A rather amazing place with some gorgeous and some rather strange things inside, overall the best description we decided on is ‘Wonderfully Kitsch’

Gangaramaya temple Colombo Sri Lanka

Gangaramaya temple Colombo, Sri Lanka

The other temple we went to was the beautiful Seema Malaka, the temple on the water. This place was really peaceful, I loved it. Well I did, until I got pooed on by a Crow, then I liked it less!

Seema Malaka Buddhist Temple Colombo Sri Lanka

Seema Malaka Buddhist Temple, Colombo, Sri Lanka

In both the temples Arthur stayed in the moby wrap. He definitely wasn’t bored at either one, lots of unusual things to look at!

The Dutch Hospital: a lovely place to eat and do a bit of shopping

The Pettah: a huge outdoor market selling a wide variety of very random things. It’s crazy there, really noisy! In the Moby wrap, Arthur slept through the whole lot!

Of course we did lots of wondering around and just taking in the sites.

 

After Colombo we headed to Unawatuna near to Galle on the south coast! I’ll write soon about how we got on there!

Seychelles Mama

Come and follow me!

Flying to, and arriving in Sri Lanka: My experience and tips

Having visited Sri Lanka and having a few incidents I thought i’d write this post about flying to, and arriving in Sri Lanka.  Of course, I’ll share my tips on how to avoid the mistakes we made too!

flying to sri lanka pinterest

 

Flying To Sri Lanka

We flew with Mihin Lanka from Seychelles to Colombo. As it is considered a budget air line I was expecting not very much.

I was pleasantly surprised with the flight. We had more leg room than I had anticipated, which is always a good thing.

There were no TVs, but we were prepared having loaded the iPad up with movies to keep Arthur entertained. He didn’t really need it though which was great!

We were given dinner which was actually delicious, we had a choice of either vegetarian or chicken curry. I had veg and Mark had chicken, Arthur had some of each of ours.

Arriving at the Airport

The airport in Colombo was much bigger than I expected. I guess we have got used to our small airport in the Seychelles now! Everything was clean and mostly well signposted.
The one thing we missed was that we had to fill in arrival cards.  So, when we got to Passport control without doing that we were turned away! Luckily there was no queue, else that would have been pretty annoying!

Stepping out of the airport is, frankly, manic!! Cars, taxis, and people everywhere.

Our taxi driver met us with a sign for “Miss Mark H” which we enjoyed!! He didn’t speak very good English and it took a while to figure out that he had parked the car in a separate car park and we were to walk there, it wasn’t far!!

Outside The Airport

We told him the name of the place we were staying and he didn’t know it. He kept asking if it was Colombo 1, Colombo 3, Colombo 7 etc…..I had no idea what he was talking about.
Turns out Colombo is separated into different districts (hence the different numbers) although we are yet to find a map with these on!!

We didn’t have an address for our guest house just the name. Mark knew what street it was and roughly that it was near the Canadian embassy (this determined that we were in Colombo 7)…..should be easy to find right…..WRONG!! We drove around for over 2 hours looking for this place with our taxi driver just repeating “you have no good address? Just the name!” He was starting to get angry!

At this point it is after 1 in the morning and we are exhausted. Mark tells him to just take us to a hotel, any hotel and we will sort it the next day.
I was astounded when we got to a hotel that we weren’t totally ripped off by our taxi driver, the pre-agreed price for our transport for to the hotel was $35 and he didn’t charge us any more than that, despite having driven around for an extra two hours…..amazing!

We emailed the place we were staying once we got our hotel room and they were very apologetic, they promised to pick us up in the morning, refund our taxi cost as well as the first nights stay.

Finally where we were meant to be!

The next day we finally got to where we were meant to be, The Cheriton Residences. it’s a lovely guest house, turned out we had pretty much been right outside whilst driving around the night before!!! This place has a very colonial feel to it, our room is huge and Arthur’s cot is lovely, not just a travel cot!
Here’s a bit of a grainy picture just taken on my iPad.  You can see more pictures and I’ve written all about our stay in Colombo and why we loved it so much, take a read.

Cheriton residencies, Colombo, Sri Lanka. Flying to, and arriving in Sri Lanka

My Tips For Flying To And Arriving In Sri Lanka

1. When arriving in Colombo Airport fill in the arrival card before getting to Passport Control. That might sound obvious, however, we already had visas so didn’t realise we would have to do that too!! “visa” in fact is an ETA which we obtained online. Sri Lanka ETA is electronic and it is linked to our passport, so just need to show Immigration our passport and the arrival card.*

2. Taxi and Tuk Tuk drivers are not like London cabbies knowing their city inside and out: Know what district of Colombo you are staying in, this will help you driver out!!

3. Make sure you have the address of where you are staying. Hotel, guest house whatever. Have the full address and the phone number!! This will save hours driving around! Places are hard to find, guest houses particularly are not massively signposted!!

*in collaboration with SriLanka.org

Come and follow me!

An Expat Christmas

An expat Christmas

This year will be our 3rd Christmas as expats, and our second as parents!

An Expat Christmas

Last year was obviously special as it was Arthur’s first Christmas and we made a big of a deal as we could by doing a big British Christmas dinner with our closest friends. However, as much as we love living in the Seychelles (and we really do!), we can’t help but find Christmas a bit of an anti climax. Hearing Rudolph the red nose reindeer and Santa Clause is coming to town just doesn’t seem right on a tropical island!!!

But this year, we are doing something a bit different and heading to Sri Lanka.

With this in mind our parents have sent our Christmas presents out early to us. So we could have our Christmas early, truly an expat Christmas.

Now, we have fallen out of love with the postal system here of late. When we first moved here it would take 10 working days for post to arrive with Royal Mail. Now we are lucky if it gets here within a month.
My parents sent stuff over with plenty of time and two packages have yet to arrive. To give credit to the Seychelles Postal system we’ve never had anything not turn up….one package took 6 months, but it still got here.

Mark’s sister works for a big courier company and so his family sent stuff with them. We had a phone call a couple days later to say it had been seized by Seychelles customs office. We are now dealing with a clearing agent to get that….I guess chocolate and Christmas presents for a 18month old is pretty serious stuff to be sending!!!!

As our internet allowance here is pretty restricted…..9GB/month we live for the weekends skyping our families. We get an additional 2.5GB internet to use each weekend!

So with us leaving for Sri Lanka on Saturday (13th) we arranged for our expat Christmas Skype with my family to be this Saturday just gone.
We arranged our time to fit in with everyone and Mark, Arthur and I sat on our bed with our presents chatting to my Mum, Dad, Brother and the dog. To me it felt just as good as our previous two Christmases here!! Just as much excitement and fun!

I’m hoping we can get our remaining packages this week before we go and go wild and do mid week video Skypes to our families before we go, if not it will be something to look forward to when we are back!!

My parents have sent a couple things for us to take away to open on Christmas Day so we still can make some kind of event of the real thing!
The hotel we are staying at is also putting on some kind of big special dinner too so that should be fun!
Mark and I have decided to buy presents for each other when we are in Sri Lanka. Just small things, again to have something to open!

Arthur will have his Christmas present from us when we are back, we are having an easel made for him while we are gone!!

To me this whole thing kind of sums up being an expat.
Having Christmas at the beginning of December via Skype and then off seeing the world for the big day itself!!

Seychelles Mama

Come and follow me!

Packing for Sri Lanka with a toddler in tow

Packing for Sri Lanka with a toddler in tow

Going to Sri Lanka is a pretty big deal for us. Mark and I have never been to Asia, never done a holiday where we travel to different places, and perhaps the biggest thing is that this is our first proper family holiday with Arthur.

We went back to the UK in the Summer, but that was staying with our families where we were totally looked after, and had access to way more for Arthur than we are used to here.

We are now getting organised….mmm, attempting to get organised, so here we go: packing for Sri Lanka with a toddler in tow!

The weather is going to be cooler then we are used to here. Some parts of our trip will be colder than others.

Also we are traveling between the city, the beach and the mountains!

So with all this in mind, we need to pack for the variable weather conditions, and we need to pack light so we can carry everything from place.

I have definitely reached the stage of pre-trip panic. So I’m writing this all down to help assure myself we are reasonably organised

We have borrowed backpacks from our lovely neighbours so that’s going to help us a lot as it allows us to be hands free. One we can definitely take but we are not sure the other is big enough, so if not we have a separate bag on stand by!

For Arthur we have borrowed a really lightweight umbrella folding pushchair from a lady who loves near by. Her son is 3 now and they don’t use a lot any more. This little chair is, let’s say, “well loved” so I need to do a few little patch ups on it. In a way it’s a good thing as she’s said she doesn’t even want it back afterwards so if it just lasts the trip, so be it!
Packing for Sri Lanka with a toddler in tow
We are also taking the Moby wrap we borrowed from another friend. Both Mark and I love this and we know it will be so useful to us in Sri Lanka!

All the places we are staying in have washing facilities, so we need to be sensible and pack as light as possible, knowing we will be able to wash clothes when we are there.
Honestly, I struggle with this, I like to have options! I’m going to have to be very strict with myself!

We’ve been warned that in the temples shoulders and knees should be covered, especially for women. With that in mind, I’ve borrowed some nice pashminas I can throw on over my shoulders (also borrowed from my neighbours), I am also going to buy myself a couple of pairs of ‘hammer pants’ (definitely some with elephant patterns on!!) that I’ve been assured are available literally everywhere!! I’ve actually wanted some crazy patterned trousers forever and these will be perfect as they are super light, so can comfortably wear here after the trip!

Having lived in Seychelles for 2.5 years now, we never wear mosquito repellent. Not because we are lazy (well, maybe a bit!), but because we don’t get bothered by them anywhere near as much as we did when we first moved here.
However going to a different place, where we will become ‘fresh meat’ again, we will take some with us to help keep the Mosquitos at bay!!

Okay, I think I’ve got the major things covered! Oh of course, we have a trusty travel guide to take with us too!!

Only a few days until we go now, so very excited!!
What do you think of my list so far, anything glaringly obvious I’ve missed?

Come and follow me!

Christmas in Sri Lanka!

You may have seen this on my instagram and I’ve been excited to write about it…

Sri Lanka trip

 

We will be spending Christmas in Sri Lanka!!

This is something I’m not sure we would have ever done if we were not an expat family.  First of all the cost would be a lot more to go from the UK then it is from Seychelles.  It isn’t just that though, we have a a relaxed attitude towards different ways of living that I don’t think we would necessarily have if we were still living in the UK.  I feel like we are a lot more adaptable then we were before, I’m not sure I would have dreamed about traveling around a ‘non western’ country on holiday with a 1 year old but now it’s something to be excited about.

 

There’s a little bit of a back story with Sri Lanka for us…..

Before we moved to the Seychelles, we watched a cooking show called My Sri Lanka.  We were so excited as we thought the food would be similar to how the food would be here (and it is and isn’t all in one go but that’s another story!).  Anyway, while watching the show we got an idea of how beautiful the country is and it definitely made us want to go there one day.

Fast forward to around 6 months ago and we hear that they are starting flights from Seychelles to Sri Lanka!  Of course, we didn’t think that we would be able to go because of Arthur being so young!

Our neighbours went this summer and said that not only was it amazing, they saw people on holiday  with kids there!  We started  reading a few sites such as Globetotting and Jetlag and Mayhem and got to read about and speak to a few different people who have been there with kids.

Knowing this, Arthur being so adaptable when we went to the UK this summer, and it being Mark’s 30th birthday we decided we were going to do it!!!

Flights are now booked and we’ve been busy planning our trip.  We are there for 18 days.

Our plans at the moment look a little bit like this:

The first few days we will be spending in the capital of Colombo. Next we will move down to the south coast to a little hotel near Galle. From there we have to go back to Colombo and take a very scenic train ride to Kandy where we will be for Christmas and for Mark’s 30th birthday.
We are treating ourselves to a rather beautiful little hotel in Kandy for this time. We are so excited about this place and Kandy in general looks so amazing!

As of yet we are unplanned for the last couple of days so we still have some planning to do!

I’ve put a little Sri Lanka Pintrest board together where I’m pinning some lovely pictures of the places we will be going to if you fancy a little look.
Being a bit of a melting pot between Buddhism and Hinduism it won’t be particularly Christmas-y, so in a way this is a perfect time to go while Arthur is still a bit young to really get what Christmas is all about!  We have never been to Asia, (apart from Dubai airport on the way to the UK but i’m not sure that counts!!) and we are so excited to take in the culture, which will be so different to anything we’ve seen before.

I also feel so privileged to be able to introduce Arthur to all these different experiences and cultures, okay so he probably won’t remember them, but it will be really cool to show him the pictures when he’s older, and I’m sure that it can only positively impact him!

Seychelles Mama

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Come and follow me!