Kerala, India to Sri Lanka's South Coast

Trip Start May 11, 2003
Trip End May 10, 2004

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Thursday, June 19, 2003

So, here's the second installment of our RTW diary. Luckily for all you lot, we've decided to condense our escapades into highlights. One of the reasons was that Lucy's Uncle said he couldn't decide whether to start our RTW # 1 first or Lord of the Rings. He wasn't sure which he would finish reading first!!

Following on from RTW # 1:

Sunday 1st was spent chilling out by the pool. In the evening we made our regular phone calls home and then went to Sonia & Santosh's home (a local family we had met the week before) for something to eat.

Monday 2nd we finally get to send our first installment of the diary and e-mail some photos. Relax and have our last trip to Lucky Star (saying our goodbyes to Johnny the waiter) before leaving Sea View Cottages for our train that night to Kerala.

Tuesday 3rd was mostly spent on the train through the south of Goa into the palm filled Keralan forests. After 21 hours, we eventually arrive in Trivandrum at 7.15pm and check into Greenland Tourist Lodge, 100 metres from the train station.

Wednesday 4th began with our stop at one of Kerala's famous "Indian Coffee Houses" (No 3). The building is in the form of a helter skelter (but unfortunately for us there were no slides from the top!!) and you climb and spiral upwards to find the first available table. The turbaned waiters serve coffee and breakfast to us in traditional Keralan dress. Visit the fort area of the city where there is an ornate Hindu temple, which being non-Hindus, we are only allowed to view from the outside. Take a trip up to the park where we visit the zoo. At 6.30pm we take our seats for our first Hindi movie (we called it Domingo). What an experience!!!

Thursday 5th we sample Indian Coffee House 2 and buy a Cricket World Cup t-shirt for M then head up to park to visit the handful of museums inside. Finish our tour of Trivandrum's Indian Coffee Houses by visiting the original No 1.

Friday 6th we are up early to get a rickshaw to the international airport (!) for our (business class) flight to Sri Lanka at 10. These were the only seats available when we booked (honest). Enjoy a la carte dining and leather seats for the 45-minute flight. It was good while it lasted and M says it was to be his birthday treat!!! When we arrive in Colombo, we get a taxi to a guesthouse near the centre and take a walk around the local park. Treat ourselves to a proper coffee and Sri Lankan ginger beer at Paradise Road Cafe. Sample our first hoppers (bowl shaped crumpet-like pancakes made from rice flour) in the evening.

Saturday 7th starts with a birthday kiss for M who opens his cards and present (from L) of a red candle in the shape of a heart (aww!!). Splash out for breakfast and read birthday messages and e-cards from the internet. Watch the sunset from an old colonial style hotel by the sea, the Galle Face Hotel, with a cold beer and a Pimms. Continue to blow the budget by splashing out at "The German Restaurant" where we have a 3-course meal, wine, more beers, port and other alcofrolic drinkzs before staggering to get a tuk tuk home. What a great day!

Sunday 8th we visit an air con coffee house near the Galle Face to spend what is left of M's birthday money. Walk along the sea front under an umbrella (as Sri Lankan lovers do to shade themselves from the sun and from prying eyes). Chill out in the park for the rest of the day with some cold beers.

Monday 9th we visited an air con department store called Odel, where we each buy a couple of t-shirts dirt cheap. Meet our driver for the next five days, Jerome, in the evening and plan our route round the island.

Tuesday 10th Jerome is at our service at 7.30am. We of course are only ready at 7.45am! Our air con car takes us to Polonnaruwa (an ancient ruined city) sampling the local fruit along the way.

Wednesday 11th set off at 8.45am to climb Sigiriya rock, which has the remains of an ancient palace on the top. Fantastic views and a nervous descent! Next we visit Dambulla, where there are 5 Buddhist temples built into the rock overlooking the town and a 150 foot Golden Buddha, which cost millions of rupees to make and erect. Catch a cultural show and visit the "Tooth Relic" temple in Kandy where we are staying for two nights.

Thursday 12th we visit Pinnawela elephant orphanage (which we agreed was the highlight of the trip so far) and watch the 53 elephants of all sizes and ages bathing in the river and the baby elephants being bottle-fed. Chill out for the rest of the day and eat at a typical Sri Lankan restaurant in the evening.

Friday 13th we visit the Botanical Gardens in Kandy before setting off on the long drive to Sri Lanka's highest point, Adam's Peak (also it's holiest mountain). Pass through numerous tea plantations and wonderful scenery, stopping off at a tea factory and a town in the hill country, Nuwara Eliya, which was influenced by British architecture. Get to Delhousie at the foot of Adam's Peak in time to catch 4 hours sleep before our 2am start.

Saturday 14th we attempt to wake up with a few cups of tea then set off on the 3 hour climb to the summit, 7400ft up (4800 steps). The aim of this climb was to see the sunrise and the amazing views at 6.30am but the clouds and rain hamper us. It was still a fantastic achievement but we are slightly despondent that we could not see the sunrise. Arrive back at the guesthouse soaked to the skin at 9.30am. Shower, have breakfast and a massage by our guide Namil (!?) before taking the long drive to Mirissa (on the South Coast). As we only arrive at 8pm we decide to check into "Paradise Beach Club" for 1 night.

Sunday 15th, after deciding to stay put in Paradise we spend the day recovering by the pool. Head out later in the afternoon and find another (cheaper) place to stay. Enjoy a few beers and the hotel buffet (including Beef Stroganoff) in the evening.

Monday 16th check into Mirissa Beach Inn where we are still feeling the after-effects of our climb! Spend the rest of the day chilling out in the room/on the veranda, and then sample our first meal at the inn.

Tuesday 17th we have our second dose of hoppers before getting the bus to Matarra to check out the train times for next Saturday's trip to Colombo. L has one of her tops altered for 30 rupees (a massive 18p) and we even get 4 handkerchiefs from the cut off fabric included in the price. Try our first devilled dish (chilli chicken) - M ends up in pool of sweat (nice!).

Wednesday 18th walk along the beach to Paradise's pool where we spend the rest of the day sunning ourselves. Try our first Arrack (local coconut toddy) and eat at Paradise as tonight's menu is BBQ (including cheesey mash!) yum! Waddle back to the inn.

Thursday 19th we plan a full day of relaxation (again!). Settle on the veranda we catch up on our diary and postcards. P gets a bath (1st in 3 weeks) and we stroll along the beach to see the "stilt fishermen". Have a dip in the sea and M loses his only pair of Bloc sunglasses (numpty) to a 7-foot breaker. Manage to fit both of us in a hammock and swing for a while before a bit of a pamper and a meal at the inn..................

Hope you are all ok and thanks again for everyone who has sent e-mails over the last few weeks. We really enjoy receiving them, keep them coming.

Lots of love, L&M xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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