Tag Archives: Colombo

Cooler Colombo, 2015

One evening, my husband, daughter, parents and I went up the hill to another opulent old colonial hotel- the Mount Lavinia Hotel. We had missed the sunset and it was dark by the time we arrived through rush hour traffic, but we could still hear the waves crashing down below and see the train weaving its way along the coastline. We sat outside near the pool where a band was playing some old favourite tunes and relished a bit of the cooler atmosphere up here.

The following day, my husband, daughter and I set off in our own tuk tuk to find the little oasis of South Biera Lake in the big city. City buildings surrounded the lake, but they seemed far away, especially when you took the footbridge to the island in the middle of the lake. It was my favourite new discovery in Colombo and I was glad that the three of us had come here together.

There was a meditation centre on the lake also that my husband visited by himself as I was wearing shorts. The centre was very interesting as it had both Hindu and Buddist statues along with the obligatory Adam’s foot. My daughter and I amused ourselves by watching the cormorant’s fish and then we all cooled down with a fresh fruit juice from a local stall on the side of the lake.

My uncle Tommy was an established businessman in Colombo and is the member of quite a few exclusive clubs. He took us to the Colombo Swimming Club as his special guests for lunch that was very traditional and very tasty. We all also enjoyed a dip in the pool of course, which overlooked the ocean and seemed to stretch out onto the horizon and beyond.

On our last night in Colombo, my aunt and uncle hosted a party with many assorted aunts, uncles and cousins. A lady came to the house to make fresh hoppers and there was lots of drinking and smoking as is the Sri Lanka party way. It was nice to see many familiar faces again- everyone was older, perhaps not wiser- but we had all seemed to multiply.

And so, it was time to leave the city, jump in the van with our driver Ravi and set off on our road trip around Sri Lanka. First stop- Galle.

Related posts: Old Colombo, 2015It’s a Sri Lankan ThingSri Lanka, 1998

Old Colombo, 2015

When my daughter was 2 years old, we decided to go to Sri Lanka. My husband had never been before and my parents came along for the ride. We landed in Colombo in one of the hotter times of the year when you are sweating after five minutes and as soon as you get out of the shower.

My Aunty Maryann and Uncle Tommy were kind enough to put us up in their house in the city- big enough for us all now that their two daughters had moved to other parts of the world. The house was tiled and airy with an open courtyard and many fans.

My daughter loved the tuk tuks in Colombo. Nothing delighted her more than setting off in one with her grandparents and chasing my husband and I in another. On our first tuk tuk ride to the local Kol Pitti market, we happened upon a parade for the St Thomas College annual cricket match. There were lots of floats with music, people hanging out of cars waving flags and revellers zooming around on motorbikes.

Kol Pitti market was filled with colourful fruit and vegetables, live chickens, raw meat and a fish stall. From there we took another tuk tuk to the Galle Face Hotel overlooking the Indian Ocean. A white washed leftover relic from the colonial era, the hotel was beautiful and the kamikaze cocktail in the 1864 bar was well made.

The next day we went to Colombo Fort- an old part of the city that had only just been reopened. The clock tower was tall and striking and I loved the elephant heads on one of the old buildings. My parents enjoyed pointing out old eating and drinking haunts that they hadn’t been able to get to for a while and we stopped at a yummy short eats restaurant for lunch.

One of my favourite buildings was the old Dutch hospital with its various courtyards and fancy shops. From here we braved the FOSE market in Pettah. It was ridiculously busy and a world away from the local market. Every imaginable item that you could want was for sale- from toys to food and souvenirs to clothes.

Related posts: It’s a Sri Lankan Thing, Sri Lanka, 1998, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, 1994

 

It’s a Sri Lankan Thing

It’s the people, it’s the place.

Welcoming faces.

Tasty tropical mangosteens.

Unrivaled hospitality.

Old colonial leftover hotels with kamikaze cocktails.

The locals love for children.

The lethargic heat.

Respect for the ferocity of the sea.

Whitewashed walls and stupa’s.

Joy and jubilation mixed with enthusiasm.

Busy bustling markets.

An easy going attitude.

Short eats and orange Kandos chocolate.

The way that everyone wants to do something for you.

The cool breeze and beautiful clear blue water of the Indian ocean.

The acceptance of the foreigner.

A peaceful temple oasis in the busy city.

Where the locals go.

Their willingness to go above and beyond.

Members only clubs.

The genuine wish to make your trip better.

Homemade margarita’s and little girls dresses.

Their sense of humour and camaraderie after years gone by.

A fortress by the sea.

Polite service staff.

Fancy restaurants in renovated dutch hospitals.

Their persistence and patience.

Orderly school children walking in a line.

Dining on the beach with the added danger of the strong swirling currents of high tide rising.

A Rastafarian brothers greeting.

Listening to the crashing waves as you drift off to sleep.

Early morning exercisers and sunset surfers.

Palm trees aplenty.

The familiar tune of green sleeves as the bread seller passes by.

Friendly tuk tuk drivers.

The largest roti in the world made while you wait.

The elephant on the side of the road and the monkey on your balcony.

Crashing waterfalls.

Dogs with a death wish daring elaborately decorated trucks.

Windy climbing roads.

Their craziness about cricket.

Hillsides of tea above rocky rivers.

Tranquility, peace and quiet.

Flower sellers following you up and down mountains for a sale.

Showing me what is not in the guide book.

Speciality hand rolled white tea.

Cooling afternoon rains

Egg hoppers and fresh coconut sambol.

A private tea taste testing.

That Singaporean couple we bumped into 3 times before we finally exchanged details.

Stone crafted to look like wood.

Drinking out of coconuts.

Dizzy display of Kandian dancing.

150 Buddha’s in a cave.

Feeding an elephant and then watching the herd bathe.

Seafood platters and long island ice teas.

It’s all this and more.

Thanks to all my family in Sri Lanka for making my family trip a delight. Hope to see you all again sooner rather than later.

Related posts: Sri Lanka, 1998, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, 1994 , What’s your obsession

Sri Lanka, 1998

On the way back to Australia, I went to Sri Lanka to visit my mum’s side of the family.

I stayed in Colombo and hung out with my cousins before heading upcountry to stay with my aunt and uncle who were managing Norwood tea estate at the time.

Their Rhodesian ridgeback Sandy was about to have puppies which was very exciting. They also had a huge black Labrador called Salsa and a Golden Retriever called Goldie. The manager’s house had a lovely blue swimming pool which the dogs liked to swim in.

I climbed Adam’s Peak again with the creeper- a guy who was learning the art of tea growing from my uncle. The view at sunrise was good this time and I got to ring the bell at the top as I had climbed the peak before.

We went to North Cove Cabanas to stay the night. The house was recently built on top of a waterfall and they found panther paw prints in the wet concrete that had appeared overnight. It was a beautiful place to stay- I do love a water feature.

I smiled at the tea pluckers and had a tour of Norwood tea factory with my uncle, before it was time to head back to Colombo for more partying with the cousins. I took one of Sandy’s newly born puppies with me to be rehomed in the city.

It was nice to spend some time relaxing and being taken care of in Sri Lanka as my year abroad drew to a close and it was time to head back to the reality of university, finding a job and finding a place to live.

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Sri Lanka and Malaysia, 1994

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.

Related posts: England, Singapore and Malaysia, 1988, Travel rememberings, I first started travelling