Sunday, February 14, 2016

Holiday in Sri Lanka (or the two weeks I lived in my swimwear everyday)

It's Chinese New Year week in Hong Kong. The majority of expats have escaped to snowy destinations for a week of skiing. Top of the list are Japan and Korea, but some even venture as far as Whisler or Colorado.  The rest of the expats have gone to beachy destinations, primarily Thailand or the Philippines. 

We're in Hong Kong.  It's a staycation and that's just fine with me. Things are closed, kids activities are cancelled and the weather is going to take a turn at the end of this week.  I really couldn't be happier.  I'm not going mad with seasonal affective disorder, don't worry.  I'm just kind of enjoying that we don't have places to rush off to, and embracing the fact that if I don't get out of my jammies till after lunch, it's no big deal.  

One of two Mer Culture Bikinis that I lived in for two weeks.

In fact, we took out a 1000 piece puzzle at the beginning of the week and I love that we're all drifting back over by the coffee table to see if we can place a piece into its spot. Cosy Nolasco family time is just what this mumma needed after the chaotic start to the year.

Body boarding all day everyday. By the end of the holiday, the boy learned to surf.
It does leave me time to reflect on our last family holiday, though. And holidays in general. I think I'm a beachy destination kind of person. I think two weeks in sunny Sri Lanka really proved that for me.  I was perfectly content to spend my day laying in our pallapa on the beach, reading my book, basking in the sun and sipping cocktails at sundown.  Day in and day out, the same thing. Bliss.

Sri Lanka is one of those countries I've had on my bucket list for a very long time.  When we made the decision to take our family, we heard a lot of our friends saying how amazing it was or that it was on their list, too.  I definitely get the feeling that this country is about to become a lot more touristy than it is currently.

When our family travels, we like to explore a place well rather than do a broad survey of a place.  Sri Lanka is definitely one of those places where you can cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time, but we had no interest in doing a site seeing holiday.  Instead, we parked ourselves at a little hotel called Drifters Hotel along the west coast in Hikkaduwa.

Hikkaduwa Beach

The vibe here was just perfect.  Low key and surfy with loads of backpackers passing through a community of aging hippies and hipsters. No fuss. People just rolling with it like we were.  There were a few families staying through New Year's at our hotel which provided good company for our kiddos and there were interesting people for us to meet, too.

By the Galle Fort lighthouse

We did venture out to a few nearby destinations.  The big girl wanted to see whales on her birthday, so we set out to Mirissa for a blue whale watching tour.  It was not the littlest one's favorite thing, but nevertheless, she survived it.  She found out about lots of new fears that day, the biggest one being the boat tipping after a blue whale sighting. Poor bub.

Mirissa, Sri Lanka

At the small one's request, we went to a turtle hatchery six kilometers up the coast past the town of Hikkaduwa.  Nearby was also a Tsunami picture museum (a woman had converted her shop house into a memorial with photographs and newspaper clippings). We did a quick walk through out of respect for the tuk tuk drivers who insisted we go.  It was a bit graphic for our kids, so we kept the visit short.

Spice shop, Galle Fort

Possibly my favorite place on our trip (aside from the beach) was Galle Fort. We visited this historic town three separate times, and I'd still love to go back to see more.  On our first trip, we happened upon a festival parade to celebrate the upcoming new year.  We stumbled onto a snake charmer (cobras actually) with his monkey, which jumped onto Ella and Michael, a memory I don't think we'll soon forget.

Snake charmer, Galle Fort

My favorite evening in Galle was spent having dinner at the Amangalla, once known as the New Oriental Hotel housed in the original Dutch military headquarters.  Stepping into that building is like stepping back in time to the colonial period. The building is beautifully maintained with many parts of it still original (like the the floor tiles).

Hotel Amangalla (once the New Oriental Hotel)

Sigh. All this reflecting has me really missing our two weeks spent in this gorgeous country.  I really hope that we'll be back there before too long.  We're talking about returning next Christmas. And, I've been so relaxed this week that I took nearly the whole time to actually write this post!

Galle Fort

Back to school tomorrow...

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