Day 12 - Negombo to Dambulla (Sri Lanka)

Trip Start Mar 29, 2013
Trip End Aug 17, 2013

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Flag of Sri Lanka  , Central Province,
Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Edward our driver wants to leave at 8am as we have lots of driving ahead. Last night we said, "sure no problem", then immediately wondered why. Up at 7am, four showers needed, four for sun cream, four to get dressed, two big bags to pack up, two beds to pack down, one for a feed and three for breakfast. We made it by 8.15am, and there we are apologising for being late. Felt like we'd run a marathon by the time we got in the van.

He wasn't wrong when he said it was lots of driving. We prepared ourselves for the 3 hours described in the itinerary. Instead we had 6.5 hours on the road to contend with. The first half was passed looking at the incredible sights interspersed with toddler songs on the iPad - "driving my tractor down a bumpy road" got a lot of airtime enjoyed only by one member of the van. The island is beautiful and buzzing with life and colour. The sides of the roads are filled with fruit stalls with stacks of bananas, pineapples and coconuts. The roads are crazy. To overtake you drive within centimetres of the vehicle in front, beep your horn several times, then drive past them on the wrong side of the road. Meanwhile tuk tuks and scooters attack from all angles.

Our first stop is at a fruit stall where Edward spends ages choosing the best few bananas from the enormous bunches. The Sri Lankan bananas are small and go down a treat with the Kempton boys. Next stop its Sri Lankan King Coconuts which are orange in colour. They hack the top from them and serve with a straw. Rich and Emma taste with shear trepidation since our last taste of coconut milk in Thailand 10 ish years ago made us both want to vomit. Pleasantly surprised this is actually pretty tasty.

 Have you ever seen a porcupine? No, none of us have, except thousands of discarded spines in South Africa. Well there just happen to be two on a little rope just up the road. The boys jump out to investigate and we snap some photos.

Our driver doesn't explain much in advance about what is to come next at each step of the journey nor how long it will take to the next stop so its like a magical mystery tour. Just up the road we pull into Millennium Elephant Foundation Park, and within minutes we are ushered knee deep into the river with our Elephant Mannika to give her a bath. She laid down on her side whilst we threw water on her and scrubbed her skin with coconut husks. They asked if Emma would like to ride her out of the water with one of the children, since Taya was already in the Baby Bjorn we went with that combo. He gave us a leg up onto the bare back of a kneeling elephant and then Emma gripped on for dear life to a rope around Mannika's neck as she staggered up to standing in the river then up a set of steps at the side of the river bank. We upgraded to a padded blanket on the back for the boys to join the girls. Dylan was not keen on the whole idea and it took a little persuading for him to join us, but as soon as he was wedged between us he was more than happy and kept saying "we are riding on an elephant and now I am happy". We can hardly believe we are doing this, so exciting.

We move onto Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage just up the road to see loads of elephants playing and rolling around in the mud, lots of tiny elephants there too which are just lovely. Taya attracts a crowd of people all wanting to talk to her, touch her and have their photo taken with her - hilarious. Rich captured the spectacle this time in a photo. We finally find some food for poor Dylan some two hours after we first suggested now would be a good time. He is so tired that he lays down in the market on the street, pops his thumb in and closes his eyes. I think our driver got the hint at this point. A quick scoff of some sandwiches and on our way in the van. Dylan passed out immediately and we didn't hear a squeak out of him for 2.5 hours, Taya having already slept for an hour needed lots of entertainment. No rest for the Kempton parents on this road trip. Thankfully the scenery was still beautiful as we passed vast hills, and millions of paddy fields covered in egrets.

Many hours later we finally arrive in Dambulla at our hotel Thilanka resort and spa. The van is parked up and we are greeted by one of the staff with a rickshaw. He will transport us and our luggage to the hotel. Poor, poor guy, not only is he hindered by four of us plus all our luggage,   but his seat is falling off the bike and the chain is broken! Thankfully it's mainly a downhill path through mango trees. Welcome drinks are once again gratefully received and then we head to our room for the next two nights. The hotel and room are stunning and the setting is unlike anywhere we have stayed before. We settle into our villa style accommodation, four hotel rooms per villa. Ours is 116 the same as our house number at home.

We go out to explore the grounds which are filled with the fruits and vegetables they grow. A beautiful pool means a quick swim for the girls before bedtime and a long play for the boys before they get their dinner shirts on and head out for a daddy and Dylan date. Emma goes for dinner on their return and sits blogging surrounded by insects which make her twitch and really cool praying mantas' and little lizards.

An amazing but equally tiring day.
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Liz Cheyne on

Simply loved tonight's blog entries Emma - 2 for the price of 1!
They made my evening! xx

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