Thursday, 23 May 2013

Sri Lanka - Days 9-11

Jen was unfortunately struck down with a mystery illness that made had her on the toilet all night, and decided to give the safari a miss.  We tried to cancel it as we didn't want to leave her on her own, but they wouldn't let us have our money back and the guide was all ready to go, and Jen wanted to be alone to try and recover so we went ahead with our super early start at 4am.

This time round we managed to spot an elephant up close (though obscured by a tree - who knew elephants could be so camouflaged!), a crocodile, wild boars with their babies and many birds.

We picked up Jen on the way back and plonked her in the front seat with the AC and better 'puke out the window in case of an emergency' access.  We then started the long drive to Hikkaduwa, where we would be based for the rest of the week.

The drive seemed to take forever but it was probably because we were all anxious about Jen, the bug had really taken it out of her and I've never seen her so quiet!!  We stopped to look at the famous fishermen, who swim out a couple of metres from the shore and climb up poles, where they perch on top for the rest of the day.  Unfortunately, it's turned into a bit of a tourist attraction - the moment we drew up in the lay by, a man ran up to the van and banged on the window, demanding payment for the photo I had snapped.  As you can see it's not a great one, taken very hurriedly before we sped off at the wrath of the angry fisherman!  Apparently 2 men sit on the poles and fish, whilst 2 others stand by the road and run up to tourists demanding money - I guess it's more lucrative than the actual fishing!

the looming man on the left is demanding money!

Finally we arrived at our villa - the most beautiful, amazing, huge place I have ever stayed, and immediately invited Roland in for a bit of a rest after the long drive - he was heading back to Colombo to see his family, so still had a long way to go.  We gave him a tip and a hat we'd bought him and gave him a hug goodbye - we were really sad to see him go!!! He was the loveliest, friendliest, funniest person we could have wished for as a guide.  (When we arrived back home, we bought a load of random London themed trinkets for him and his family and posted them off to him, he called me a few weeks later to say thanks and for a quick catch up!)

Roland teaching Jen about something, he's so lovely. 

After Roland left, we ran round the villa, dashing in and out of all the rooms. It was AMAZING.  5 double bedrooms, 2 of which were ensuite.  2 family bathrooms, a huge living area and kitchen complete with an indoor koi carp pond, a balcony, a gym, a lovely porch and to top it off, a large garden and swimming pool with inflatables.  We had truly struck gold, and all for the price of a night in a vaguely posh hotel in London.

living area, complete with 'indoor garden' and a koi carp pond

fake tree and koi carp pond at the bottom of it


my bathroom

the gym, opening out onto the balcony

As the villa had been newly renovated, there were a few teething problems, but we really didn't mind as it was the most luxurious place we'd ever been in.  To top it all off - we'd opted to have a private chef who visited daily to make us breakfast, lunch and dinner.  He also cleaned, did our food shopping and did the washing up.  To be honest we all felt slightly uncomfortable at this as we're all used to doing everything ourselves, so being waited upon felt very unnatural and undeserving! We tried to do the washing up ourselves but he would shoo us away.

He cooked LOADS - one morning he cooked a weird parsley/eggy/milky bread combo, and did 15 slices of bread! We couldn't eat it all and had to sneak it into the bin, which we felt very guilty about doing!

On the second day, Jen was still feeling ill so Bex and I headed into town and did some gift shopping - we bought some wooden carvings and an incredible oil painting.  It was incredibly hot so on returning to the villa we immediately jumped into the pool to cool off, which is when "Inflatable Olympics" was born.  We spent many hours racing up and down the pool in rubber rings, finding different ways to propel ourselves across the pool.

The following day we booked a tour to a moonstone mine - it was very disappointing and basically a hole in the ground that moonstone was mined from, as the entire place was set up for tourists I even wondered if the hole was there just for tourists to look at.  Workers would pose for photos, but they only seemed to be working when you approached.  The tour ended up in their shop where everything was ridiculously expensive and we were hounded by a sales guy who followed our every move.  Bex ended up buying a piece of moonstone for her mum that was literally the size of this O for about £20.  After the tour we headed back and chilled by the pool - it really is too hot to do anything too strenuous!!

posing with a moon stone miner

climbing down the mine (he was posing for this photo)

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