Ayubowan,

Is how you say hello and welcome in Sri Lanka.

I can’t believe how welcoming this country is. We travelled to India a few years ago and I always felt intrusive taking photos, but in Sri Lanka they are so happy to talk to us to, be photographed, to share their lives with us and are so friendly in the markets and I for one am loving it!

We have our own CEO- which I thought stood for chief entertainment office, however our CEO Sam, who stalked us down at the Owl and the Pussycat Hotel in Talpe, advised us it stands for chief experienced officer .

So although our tour actually commenced in Negombo, Sam our CEO, came down to the Owl and the Pussycat and met us with our transfer bus back to the city as he realised we were a unique group of friends and not just another bunch of random people, who wanted to do 15 different things whilst on tour!

Little did he know how unique we are….. we already have ideas of things we want to see and do and in typical Sri Lankan fashion, he is so accommodating, and as we leave the beautiful beachside town of Talpe – singing ๐ŸŽค ‘on the road again’ – it’s Colombo here we come!

A 3 hour tour on the bus ๐ŸšŒ and we are on the Galle Face Green in Colombo at the famous Galle Face Hotel over looking the Indian Ocean. The hotel is filled with artefacts and beautiful photographs of famous visitors of days gone by.

Our Sri Lankan friend from Sydney, Charmaine has recommended visiting this hotel and Gwyn is also very keen to visit here as her parents had visited here aboard a ship on route to a cricket tour . Gwyn’s dad Ken played cricket for Australia (OMG we are in the company of Australian royalty!!!!!!) a few years back and they had a few days rest and relaxation and a gin and tonic back in the day overlooking the Indian Ocean from the Galle Face Hotel.

It’s G &T’s ๐Ÿธ for the ladies and Lion beers ๐Ÿป ๐Ÿบ for the boys as we toast Ken, and his years of playing for the Australian cricket team.

Gwyn and Pete have of course spoken to Ken in the last day or so and we are all shocked and devastated to be Australians on tour in a country passionate about cricket, as we hear the news of our current Cricket team.

Ken’s words of advice being the oldest living Australian Test cricketer – for the Australian cricket team which we all feel is very appropriate- ” The OZ media is whipping up a frenzy. Ineptness proves we are not experienced cheats. ”

Sri Lanka appears to play cricket ๐Ÿ morning, noon and night, on fields, in the school yards and on the beach. We are humbly saying we are Aussies and we, too, are devastated about the news from South Africa ๐Ÿ‡ฟ๐Ÿ‡ฆ

Moving on we go to our next special treat, a highly recommended restaurant by our Australian friend Charmaine, a restaurant in the Dutch hospital precinct- the Ministry of Crab ๐Ÿฆ€ and it does not disappoint. Our booking is for 2.15pm however we must arrive early so we can order alcohol as they stop serving at 2.00pm!

I’m sure Steve felt like Paul Hogan in the Crocodile Dundee movie, where he pulls into the drive-thru diner at Wendy’s and he is pretending he has a car full of people when really there was 2 people and orders a sh$t load of food- well Steve was busy ordering a sh$t load of drinks!

The heritage building is beautiful and the restaurant packed to their exposed rafters. Our black bibs emblazoned with – Keep Calm and Crab on !

Our couples order their choice of our crab size and flavour. And oh the oyster shots with vodka and soy etc, went down a treat.

Sensational food and sensational company and a wonderful afternoon was had by all – as the restaurant have a fabulous philosophy๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

๐Ÿฆ€They only serve free range crab not farmed crab and they never freeze their food.

๐Ÿฆ€They only serve seafood that is fresh and tasty enough to be sashimi

๐Ÿฆ€Lastly they hope we understand if our preferred size of crab and along with the menu they give us we are eating whatever was caught on the day.

Our first night on tour is also on the coast at Negombo. The pool is amazing right on the beach and we all have a quiet night after our slightly boozy lunch.

Our next part of the tour has us heading to Kandy, the royal city up in the mountains. We stop at an auyvedic spice and plant garden ! We all learnt a thing or two including those of us who have been to India!

Our first stop in Kandy is at a women’s refuge fully supported by G Adventures called Sthree Cafe. This is a wonderful initiative helping additional needs students and adults, primarily female who have been doing it tough. They want to be a traditional Sri Lankan kitchen that’s feeds your body, heart and soul โค๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

A not for profit organisation and we have the most amazing vegetarian meal, and are shown how to eat with our hands.

Absolute bliss, we are then invited to purchase from their craft workshop so of course all of us do.

The Thilanka Hotel sits high above the town and we all walk to the famous Temple of the Tooth with our knees and shoulders covered. Sarongs on to cover our knees and go inside . What’s random is you actually can’t see the tooth nor the special gold and silver carriage that supports the tooth …. you get to see a poster of this! Ah well I personally would have faked it and displayed a copy, but nope a poster it is!

We decided this over 55 group have seen enough cultural dances so we give this a miss ….

Today after Steve and I walked the lake early and had fun trying to find Mrs Wong a toilet ( I was seriously contemplating wetting my pants), avoided rabies from a a dog bailing Steve up, we enjoyed the most amazing buffet before we all headed back down into town in traffic like we have never seen. It feels like every child in Sri Lanka attends school in Kandy! Our group have been in to the markets, had lunch at a wonderful cafe, and as this city has recently under civil unrest in the past few weeks, everyone is so grateful to see westerners visiting.

Steve and I somehow separate from the group in the market and we ended up in a gem ๐Ÿ’Ž store where we purchased a stunning Ceylon sapphire which will be set in a white gold band. I have seen spoilt with a capital S ๐Ÿ’™. Stay tuned for a pic when it gets delivered in a couple of days time!

Until next time

Mrs Wong, the bag carrier and our gang of Happy travellers xxx