Monday, 3 March 2014

The No-Disaster Holiday!

Well we made it, as you've obviously gathered from the previous post. It was a slightly stressful trip in some ways, but not the usual disaster related ones! I (and The Builder although he didn't admit it at the time) had a bit of a wobble at the thought of the family being split and Number 1 son flying to New York and the rest of us flying in the opposite direction to Sri Lanka. I worried that we'd been unfair on him and "made" him go on the college trip, I worried that should a major catastrophe happen (slightly more likely for us than your average family) we'd be apart and may not find each other again. I also worried about him in the freezing cold for 5 days, in very budget hotels (one was described as "grim but adequate"!) and us in the sunshine for 10 days - again so unfair. I worried on so many levels and that was on top of my usual panic attacks involving expired passports, lost luggage, unexpected bottles of liquid in a child's flight bag, aside from the shark attacks, mid air cardiac arrest (of a fellow passenger not us),
 unscheduled stops in Moscow - all of which have happened to us before!
After getting seriously lost on the way to our Heathrow car park and having to be guided in by their reception lady we were allowed through to the departure lounge.
We did use a SatNav but apparently theirs is a post code that just "doesn't work" - would have been handy to know that at the start but hey hoe we made it  thus far!
All the boys were checked in with their teachers and coach, they'd travelled to Heathrow separately, we tried hard not to interfere and ensure Number 2 son was on a school cricket tour not a family holiday. They had an enormous amount of baggage although it was all within the usual limit!

Just some of the kit!
After a long flight on one of the most uncomfortable airlines I've travelled on and on which Little Miss unexpectedly developed travel sickness we eventually made it to Colombo airport on the coast of Sri Lanka. It was lunchtime local time but we'd been away from home for around 17-18 hours by then, we were all exhausted. We said goodbye to the boys and went to meet our pre-booked taxi for the 3 1/2 hour drive inland to Kandy. We had pre-booked a taxi just for the transfers from airport to hotel and hotel to hotel - we had been advised to book a driver for the whole stay but The Builder, in his wisdom, decided hailing a passing taxi on any given day and explaining where we wanted to go and negotiating a very cheap price would be no problem at all - what do you think?
Little Miss continued with her travel sickness on the long drive which put paid to the only pair of trousers I'd thought to bring, but the distance we travelled (purely for the sake of cricket) was worth it when we reached our first hotel - the view was divine!
Overlooking the Mahaweli River
 Despite being so tired we managed a quick dip before dinner,
swimming at sunset in a gorgeous setting. I could start to relax....

The night time view from our room, over the pool and river beyond
One of the first things I noticed from the moment we stepped off the plane and especially at this hotel was the smell. Smell is very important to me, I think I have a heightened sense of smell which can be a problem at times (living in a house with 3 men, you get the picture?)
The smell was clean, fresh and scented, everywhere we went. I believe they had scented oils burning around the hotel, and fresh flowers everywhere. It was a clean linen, green tea & jasmine kind of smell; and I also noticed no one smoked - that was a bonus for me.
Unfortunately we had to be up early and away to the first match of the tour, we had asked our airport driver to take us so that all worked well, he was waiting as we came out of the delicious buffet breakfast. We were still tired and a little jet lagged, and the sun was promising a scorcher of a day. It was exhausting for us to sit in the extreme heat and watch the match, I can't begin to imagine what it was like for the boys to don pads, helmets, gloves etc and run around for a 40 over match. Play was expected to last from 10am to around 4pm, and it did.
We saw a lot of this

Can you see the giant Buddha (the first of many we saw) overlooking the ground?
Zoomed in

The team is the school 1st XI so it's made up of the best players in the senior school, some were sixth formers of 18+, huge men compared to our 14 year old!
However Number 2 son was chosen to open the bowling and took the first wicket of the tour - quite an accolade and a moment to remember. He was awarded the "best bowler" trophy at the end of the match by the opposition.
Unfortunately they lost this match, I think the tiredness and heat got to them, but they performed better than I would have expected given the conditions and the fact that we'd left England in the middle of the football/rugby season for most of the boys.
We said our goodbyes and went back to our hotel to freshen up, the driver was then taking us to the Temple of the Tooth Relic for the evening ceremony.
The Temple is situated next door to the Palace in Kandy Kingdom (I love that name!) and was probably the most ornate building, both inside and out, that I'd ever seen. An immense amount of gold and ivory and some fantastic wall paintings everywhere - I was surprised but photography was allowed. The only restriction was that you mustn't pose in the photo yourself alongside the adornments and many Buddha's.
It was a truly spectacular place and my photos do not do it justice, there were crowds filing through and it made stopping to look and photograph everything difficult.

The casket which holds the tooth
The tooth is believed to be an ancient tooth of The Buddha
It is such a gorgeous place and quite rightly a UNESCO world heritage site.

After this we went to bed very tired (and ever so slightly sunburnt!)
after our first full day in Sri Lanka.
Then up early to travel back to the coast where we stayed in Wadduwa.

I'll do another post on the rest of our holiday/cricket tour soon - including our crash!
Right now I have an biggest boy 18th birthday to plan,
although as it's on Wednesday I've probably left it a bit late!!


  1. It looks fabulous! So glad you had a disaster-free trip (barring the taxi crash!)
    hubby and I visited Sri Lanka in 2004, we even saw Sri Lanka play against Australia in Galle (more interesting for hubby than me); I'd love to go back, such a beautiful country.

  2. I am not looking forward the first time we are on separate holidays (visiting gran on their own doesn't count), I understand all you worries. As for the heightened sense of smell, it is great at times but a curse sometimes, too (I too have plenty of men in the house). I can imagine the lovely scent of your holiday. What an amazing trip you enjoyed in Sri Lanka! I would l so love to take the kids to far flung places but I need to get a job first, then fix the house. One day. Amazing, Buddha's tooth!

  3. Our daughter is grown, yet when she travels I always want all the particulars of her trip, for her to Twitter each day so I can see she's ok, so I definitely understand your worries.
    Sri Lanka looks incredible! Can't wait to see more photos.

  4. Your pictures make Sri Lanka look so beautiful! And that is one Big Buddha! Sorry your plane wasn't better. My husband the traveler avoids Airbus, since his American body just never gets comfortable in their seats. Unless there is no option and then he trades in some of his air miles to upgrade from Coach.
    Win or lose, there is nothing like watching your children perform, Good Times!

  5. Wow, wow, and wow again! What a fantastic opportunity - even if linked to cricket which may not have been the way you might have wanted to go there! Your daughter reminds me of me at that age, always sick in cars or coaches until we discovered sitting on a newspaper. Magic. It works, try it! Glad you had a great time and yep, know what you mean about smells.!

  6. What an incredible trip! I'm a little jealous, but mostly pleased you got to experience all of that, plus your sons' success.
    I'm also a smell person. It's weird, but very important in my senses.

  7. Your no disaster trip sounds absolutely fantastic. I love the look of Sri Lanka and your photos are stunning. You'll have some wonderful memories to look back on.
    Patricia x

  8. Glad to hear you all made it to your destinations ok.
    Kandy Kingdom sounds like something Willie Wonka would run.
    Your photos show some truly beautiful sights.
    Hope Little Miss wasn't sick on the way home, that couldn't have been nice for her to be poorly and so tired.
    Lisa x

  9. Wow! well done you! cannot believe all that mountain of luggage - but at least it looked identifiable and tidy as all in same kind of bags. I cannot believe you got through this - sounds incredible though and I know what you mean, that heady sweet flowers, humid fetid smell surrounds you in the tropics. great piccies!

  10. Sri Lanka looks wonderful it must have felt so surreal that first evening after such a long day. Congratulations to No 2 son for opening the bowling and winning the trophy. Congratulations to son on his 18th birthday too, Sarah x

  11. Your photos of Sri Lanka are beautiful, I did read with trepidation about your flight as we are off to Sri Lanka on Saturday (with SL airlines) but I am sure we will recover quickly.