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!

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Unawatuna: Sri Lanka with a toddler

After a fun couple of days in Colombo we headed down to our next stop, Unawatuna, a little town near to Galle. This time we stayed half board in a hotel.

We took a coach from Colombo down to Galle. This is a really cheap way to get down there, it cost us 1000 rupees (about £5) for the trip. If we had taken a taxi it probably would have cost around £50. The coach was air conditioned and our seats had plenty of space, I would totally recommend to travel this way.

We arrived at our hotel, I’ll be honest, my first impressions were a little “meh”. It all seemed rather dated, especially our little chalet. It was a lovely room but I will never understand why places keep dated pictures on the wall or use frilly mosquito nets round a 4 poster bed….not my thing at all!
However, the room was really clean, the bed was comfy and the bathroom was actually very nice which is always a way to win me over!!

Arthur had a lovely cot, again like Colombo, not just an old travel cot!!

It didn’t really take us long to come round to our new place. The staff there were so nice!
Arthur loved the swimming pool and the fish tanks, and the food was amazing.

A rather unfortunate thing happened to us while we were there though. While we were out one day, Mark had gone for a dive and so had taken his wedding ring off (it’s wooden so not good to wear in the water), we came back to the room and it had been stolen. The manager initially told us that it was sure it had just been lost but he would refund is the cost of the ring if it didn’t turn up. He later came to us, very apologetic and said that he had spoken to the cleaners and that he was certain it had been stolen. He had sacked the two on the spot. Apparently they were new staff. I almost didn’t write about this in this blog post because overall our memories of the place are positive ones but I’ve decided to include it but not write the name of the hotel. If the manager had not been so helpful clearly the reviews I would be giving would certainly name and shame! We are now in the process of ordering a new ring so hopefully it will all be forgotten by then!

While we were in Unawatuna we got up to loads of fun stuff.

Mark and I both went diving (separately obviously so someone was with Arthur) on shipwrecks. We have never done a ship wreck dive before and It was amazing!! I even had to face my ridiculous but very real jellyfish phobia as I had to descend and then ascend through a swam. I got stung but I was brave…I know that sounds pathetic, but honestly I’m very proud of myself!!!

Unawatuna diving

Unawatuna diving

Unawatuna diving

I got to go to a really lovely spa, called Sanctuary Spa I’d really recommend it!

We did a walk over to Jungle Beach (twice actually) once just to have a look and visit the gorgeous peace pagoda.
Unawatuna peace pagoda

Unawatuna Peace pagoda

Unawatuna peace pagoda

Unawatuna peace pagoda

We also had our first look at wild monkeys
Unawatuna wild monkeys jungle beach

The second time we went for a little swim and play on the beach!

Unawatuna jungle beach
We also took a couple trips to Galle fort, we loved it there a really lovely place to walk around. This first picture I really like as you can see a Church, a Mosque and a Buddhist temple all within walking distance of each other!
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Walking round Unawatuna itself is also really lovely. The village has a really hippy vibe, very chilled out and very friendly.
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So despite having Mark’s wedding ring stolen we still have wonderful memories of Unawatuna and would definitely go back!!

Again, the moby wrap was definitely the way to transport Arthur around. We found the push chair totally useless there although we did see a couple people using them I wouldn’t recommend it!

Next stop on our Sri Lanka Trip was Kandy for Christmas and Mark’s 30th birthday!

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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.

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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!

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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

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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?

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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

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Traveling with a 1 year old-getting organised

So it is just over 2 months until we head back to the UK for the summer.  It will be our first flight with Arthur (apart from the inter island flights on the little prop planes).  I’m pretty nervous about it and so I am trying to be as organised and prepared as possible.  I’m known to fret quite a bit before we travel anywhere at all so I’m hoping that by being ahead of the game I will be less of a nightmare to travel with!  Although if we are traveling with a 1 year old and I’m the worst part of it then that will be pretty good going!!

 

Our flights were booked for us through Mark’s school.  We will be flying with Emirates which I am really happy about as I know they are a good airline.  I want to be as comfortable as possible for the long flights!

 

I had been um’ing and ah’ing about taking our pushchair back with us  despite Mark’s parents having got one for us.  I wanted to make sure that things would be as easy at the airport as possible.  I recently read that at Dubai airport (where we have a stop over) they give you a pushchair!  So this problem was sorted, we can leave our push chair here and we only have to deal with not having it for one part of the journey!

 

The Emirates website has lots of information about what they do to help traveling with children which I found really useful.  I read that they can provide a bassinet for babies up to 11kg (Arthur is 9kg right now so I’m banking on him being less than 11kg by that time!).  Arthur will be almost 13 months when we fly so we are going to have to be sure that we have lots to keep him busy.  If he carries on the way he is right now he will almost certainly be walking but either way all he’s going to want to do is go up and down the isles so I’ve resigned myself to the fact that everyone on the plane will hate us but I think I’ll let him do it, best that he’s doing that and he’s happy then forcing him to sit on our laps the whole time and him be screaming!!

 

Yesterday I phoned up the Seychelles Emirates office and booked the bassinet and the lady said that she would put in a request so that Mark and I will be sat together also.  She has also arranged for baby food to be provided.  I’m really pleased that I’ve done this it has taken a big weight off my mind.

 

Next up we need to start planning our time while we are there.  Although we will be there for almost 6 weeks I know the time will absolutely fly.  We need to make sure that we get to do what we want to do but also that our family and friends get to do what they want to (mostly this will be things with Arthur, not us!!).  We will be heading to Mark’s parents first and then down to mine.

 

I’ve started doing a little sorting of big things we will need for Arthur.  Mark’s parents have already got Arthur a car seat and a push chair.  My best friend, Hannah is going to lend us a travel cot for when we are with my parents so we need to sort one out for while we are at Mark’s.  Then we need to figure out what we will do for stair gates and a high chair.

 

I also need to start sorting out what we are going to do for clothes.  Mostly Arthur just wears a pair of shorts or maybe a little vest but its too hot to dress him fully, even at night.  Mum bought a nice cozy outfit for Arthur to wear on the plane  and we have a few things we can take for him but I’m definitely going to have to do some online shopping to have a few things waiting for him when we get there (honestly i’m very exited about this!!)

 

So thats it for now I think.  If you have any suggestions on things we will need for summer in the UK, or any tips on traveling with a 1 year old please let me know 🙂

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