In 1994, my parents and I joined the Holsinger Reunion Trip to Sri Lanka. My mum was technically a Berenger, not a Holsinger, but I am sure we are related somewhere down the line. Not that this really matters anyway as anyone Sri Lankan and older than you is considered an aunt or an uncle.
We all wore yellow t-shirts with green writing that said “Hollies Reunion 94”on our trip around the country. I met lots of cousins from England, Australia and Sri Lanka and we had lots of parties. The young cousins and the older aunts all put on dance and acting shows of varying skill levels. Mum joined the “I Will Survive” dancing number and my cousin and her father sang to “Unforgettable.”
Being 16 at the time, I remember being very angry that my mum wore a red dress to the reunion ball when she knew I was wearing that colour too. We all spent Christmas together and New Year’s Eve at a house on a lake where we had dinner at 2am because the Lankans like to get maximum drinking time in before they eat.
In Colombo, we saw the Sri Lankan cricket team practicing on the next field when we played our reunion cricket match.
There were monks, a big white Buddha, dancers and monkeys in Kandy. Dad and I were the only ones brave enough to have a snake on our shoulders at a rest stop where we drank out of coconuts.
We went to the Pinawela elephant orphanage and saw the lion’s paws and rock frescos at Sigariya. We visited the buddas at Polonnaruwa and the temples at Anuradhapura. We went to Dambulla rock temple where we saw many colourful buddas in a cave.
At the beach, I swam in the deepest water I can ever remember swimming in and we stayed at the Tangalle Bay Hotel which was shaped like a ship.
Upcountry, we stayed at Loinorn tea estate which my uncle was managing. (He now has Ebony Springs). My family are Sri Lankan burghers, so they had a driver, a cook and a servant who looked after me when I was sick. The estate had a big house, a rock fresh water swimming pool and lots of tea hills to explore. They also had a golden retriever called Goldie who liked to sit around with her legs out like a seal. We got a personal tour of the Bogowana tea factory and I climbed Adam’s Peak at dawn.
We went to The Hill Club in Nuwara Eliya which was run by another uncle and visited family in Negombo.
On the way back to Australia we went to Malaysia with my aunt, uncle and two cousins.
In Kuala Lumpur we saw an orangutan smoking the Asian way in the zoo.
There was great food and good shopping in Malacca. Years later, I still regretted not buying silver sunflower ring that I found there.
We took a day boat trip to Pulau Kapas. We couldn’t afford to eat at the resort on the island so we sat on the beach and listened to their stereo system which played Ace of Base all day instead.