Sri Lanka hijack part 1: Tour with the grandparents

This is a very special hijack, as it will be guest staring my nanna and grandad, as we have been travelling around Sri Lanka with them for two weeks! It was really great to see them and we had a lovely stay with them. A bonus for us as we got to spend time with them and stay in nicer, more luxurious places.

Favourite city or town and why?

Mum:  My favourite city of this part of the trip was Jaffna. We have been learning and reading about Jaffna so was really good to see what it was really like. I thought it has a different feel and vibe to the rest of Sri Lanka. It was different to see modern and new buildings everywhere but also a bit odd and sad as they are only new as so much was destroyed in the civil war.

 

Dad: It has to be Jaffna! We got a real insight t into the lives and surroundings of the northern Tamil Hindu people. The food was pretty special too!

Nanna: oh you are starting with such a hard question because every place we went with you was wonderful.  If I’m asked perhaps I would pick Upeeveli near Trincomalee,  at the beach.  This location felt very much like a tropical piece of paradise to me.  I have never stayed in such a warm clean environment dipping my toes into the Bay of Bengal.  So although we didn’t search out ancient treasures it was such a new experience for me to walk into the sea and it feels like a path that I think this location will stay in my mind forever (Coconut beach lodge)

Granddad: I think I enjoyed Jaffna the most it was great fun riding the bikes and then renting the scooter to travel around

Alex: I really liked Jaffna as it was really pretty and had great food. I also liked all the tours we did and learning about the civil war was interesting. The hotel was my favourite, I think, as it had a really big and deep pool so I could practice my dives and we hadn’t been in a pool for 3 months! I really liked the Hindu temple (my first) and learning about the customs.

Georgia: Jaffna. It was really the only city we visited but was also very interesting ans we did to tours and also had loads of loads of nice meals and the food was great. I also learnt loads about the civil war

Dylan: Jaffna- It was lovely and peaceful and we got to stay in a fancy hotel with a pool!! There was also lots of things to do.

Funniest memory:

Mum: This is hard as we had lots of LOLs over the 2 weeks with mum and dad. I guess snorkelling was funny due to the fear factor but more on that later.

Dad: Going on a moped with Kate, she was quite nervous to start and kept slamming on the breaks whenever anything came remotely near us!!

Nanna: I had lots of laughter playing games such as cowboy, guess the number and dobble gave us much laughter . Dylan saying more than 50 times “do you want to play cowboy Nanna,”!  playing the finger version when we were on a crowded public bus just brings a smile to my face

Grandad: The bikes in Jaffna were great fun. The roads were very busy and it took us a while to get used to riding on busy roads. I enjoyed looking at Dylan sitting on the back of dads bike dangling his legs over the side.  I don’t think we would have been allowed so much fun in England!

Alex: My funniest memory was when we were teaching Nanna and Granddad how to play Dobble. We all started to play when they got the hang of it, but Georgia is really good at it and kept putting cards down really fast. We all had to quit as she started to almost lie over it. The rest of us were in gut wrenching giggles as she started to slap our hands away.

Georgia: we all had a real laugh with Nanna and granddad but I loved listening to Nanna and Dylan play games. I seriously don’t know how Nanna plays with him for sooooooo long!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dylan: Riding on the back of Nanna’s motorbike. We went really fast and it was soo exciting!!!

Best meal:

Mum:  Defiantly the meal at Cosy in Jafna. It was so hot and sweaty and just a really simple Sri Lankan restaurant but they had a massive tandoori oven and we ordered so much yummy food. Me and Matt shared a crab curry something I had never had before and it was amazing. We also had eggplant korma; full tandoori chicken and loads of fresh naann bread. It was all amazing and a big change from some of the more southern Sri Lankan curries. It was more like Indian curries from the UK. We waited ages and ages for it to arrive but consoled ourselves by drinking Lion beer and it was definitely worth the wait!  It was so lovely to be with my mum and dad and everything was good in the world,  having a great time; eating great food for extremely cheap prices. Fab and one of my food highlights of the whole trip.

Dad: It has to be the first time we went to Cosy. The crab curry was unbelievable and the breads were so delicious, fresh from the tandoor oven. The Biriyani was also pretty awesome!

Nanna: I have eaten so many delicious Sri Lankan curry’s that this is hard to pick out just one! However I think cosy restaurant in Jaffna,that we visited twice, would be in my top three. the amazing Tandoori chicken and fresh, fresh naans from the tandoor oven make my mouth water still. Also we had a Jaffna special there: a fresh crab curry and that was a new experience and delicious taste.   Waiting over an hour to get food in the cosy restaurant was interesting that we entertained our self by watching the cooking and of course playing games but in temperatures in the high 30s it was not altogether comfortable at times especially with very hungry children!

Grandad: I have enjoyed all those Sri Lankan breakfasts we’ve eaten especially the roti and Dahl!

Alex: My best meal I would say was the second time we went to Cosy in Jaffna. It was Tamil new year and everyone was off work except the Christians. It took for ever to come but it was SO good. I had chicken tikka masala with the freshest Naan ever it was so tasty. Also the Tandoori oven was really cool and yummy.

Georgia:I liked all the food in Jaffna especially cosy they served the best tandoori chicken and naann iv ever had. I WAS AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dylan: I liked Cosy restaurant. I got to help make the naan breads and put them in the Tandoor oven. They tasted amazing!

Worst thing:

Mum:  When we first arrived in Jaffna we were hot and sweaty and exhausted from long  train journey, we arrived at the hotel we had booked for 4 nights and even as we pulled up I just didn’t like the vibe. It was a big hotel with a strange lobby; more like a wedding venue with reception. there was supposed to be a lovely garden but it all looked like a building site and there was nowhere to sit as a family. I was worried about saying anything as I thought Matt and my parents would think i was being a bit fussy, but I had never complained before or wanted to move hotels but I could just tell this place wasn’t right. Luckily everyone agreed and myself and my mum  jumped straight into tuktuk and set off to see if we could find somewhere better. Luckily we found a great place; very good value with a pool and excellent restaurant. We quickly got back and bundled the others into a taxi and escaped. To be honest the first hotel didn’t really put up any kind of defence, we did pay them for one night just to be decent but I think they knew their website was bit ambitious for what they really are!

Dad: Going to our first hotel in Jaffna, it was rubbish!! Luckily, Kate and Nanna took charge and we checked out and went to another, much better, hotel. It was a bit #awks for me and Grandad to be sitting in the hotel we wanted to check out of whilst waiting for Kate and Nanna to return from new hotel.

Nanna: my swimming costume filling up with a ton of sand every time I was knocked about in the sea by the enormous waves.  I am sure I will be finding Sri Lankan sand in my clothing for many weeks to come

Grandad: nothing really stands out but I think I got a bit too hot sometimes !!  Of course when we had to say goodbye wasn’t very good but I’m sure we will meet up soon!

Alex: Saying goodbye as we don’t know when we will see them again. Also beacause we had such a great time together.

Georgia: I had a really great time with Nanna and Granddad i’m sure there were low points but I can not pick out any in particular

Dylan: When we went snorkelling on the island we went right out, suddenly I saw a massive shark swimming towards us. I was really scared!! The rest of the snorkelling was fun though.

Top tip:

Mum: Do a tour in Jaffna with Mohan from Sri Lankan click. He is so knowledgeable and interesting and we learnt so much about Tamil Culture; civil war and generally the northern areas of Sri Lanka. We did 2 tours with him; cycling tour around the city and all  a Civil war tour and both were brilliant .

Dad: Don’t be afraid to use the trains to get around Sri Lanka. They can get very  busy but they are cheap and you see loads of great countryside. You also get to meet loads of people.

Nanna: use Sri Lankan public transport it’s amazing! so cheap and gives you a great insight into the georgraphy and people of the country. Our journey from Colombo to Jaffna in a first class carriage was a treat and the single track train lead us through beautiful countryside and you could see the changes in climate and terrain .  Our train journey from Hilkaduwa to Galle, in a third class train carriage cost just  20 rupees ( approx 10p) this train was over an hour late however,  which meant we were drenched in sweat by the time we boarded the train

Granddad:  Make sure you have lots of water because the Stringer children will drink it all!! Also look out for air-conditioning, it’s a blessing .

Alex: Make the effort to go to Pigeon Island. It is A-MA-ZING there are sharks swimming around you and the coral is brightly coloured. I think it is the best snorkelling I’ve every done and the fish are not scared of you. It is shallow so there is no need to go scuba diving although it would be epic. There are turtles and even reef sharks that are scary. It is near Trincomalee in the East and definitely worth a visit.

Georgia: go to Jaffna and Trincomalee. they are not big tourist places but are incredible and very interesting.

Dylan: Go to Cosy restaurant in Jaffna, the naan bread was amazing and they let you cook them yourself.

Best memory and why:

Mum: Snorkelling on Pigeon Island was incredible. The beaches near Trincolmee were beautiful and very quiet and we got to snorkel around pigeon island which is one of Sri Lankas marine national parks. The snorkelling was incredible and much better than the southern beaches with the coral being really alive and bright and beautiful but the real highlight was swimming with the refs sharks. We knew there was a chance of seeing these creature but there was loads of them. all swimming around and boy do they look like proper sharks!! Matt had convinced me (or I had assumed) these types of sharks werentt dangerous at all ( or why else were we going to be swimming with them) but the we got home he showed me all sorts of videos that why can actually be pretty brutal!! Anyway, it was incredible and definitely felt like a once in a life time experiences. Poor Dylan got pretty freaked out and had to stay nearer the shore and away from the scary sharks. We even saw turtles as well. Was really special and I’m sure Ill never forget

Dad: Has to be swimming with the sharks. We also saw a turtle that day which was pretty cool.

Nanna:  I must be allowed two on my first visit to Sri Lanka first would be the hugs on arrival at Mount Lavinia near Colombo the stringers give wonderful hugs and my arms have been waiting for the hugs and kisses and then we dived in the pool

Secondly it would be snorkelling off pigeon Island.  My grandchildren were so kind and looked after me and encouraged me to go near the black tipped reef sharks! I saw so many beautiful tropical fish it felt like I was actually in a tropical fish tank.

Granddad: apart from when we first met I think my best memory was when we were playing Uno waiting for our food in Hikkaduwa!!   I also really enjoyed climbing up the hill when we were in Dambula. The views were magnificent and the ancient Buddha’s were very interesting . All the public transport links were also wonderful!

Alex: I think it would be the train up to Jaffna as we had not seen Nanna or granddad for 7 months except briefly at Heathrow airport. We got to talk to them constantly for 8 hours!! The train itself was nice and the views were incredible as we made are way to the North. I have had some other great memory’s and it was a very difficult decision

Georgia: I loved seeing nanna and granddad  the first time. I also love pigeon island it was the best snorkelling i’ve ever done and I could spend a whole day looking at the coral let a lone the fish and reef sharks .They were epic to.

Dylan: Swimming with the sharks!! I was really scared but I will never forget it.

Items lost:

Nearly lost Nannas kindle but thanks for the prompt action of the hotel in calling out tuktuk driver the tuktuk took was able to immediately take her back to collect it for Rs.500 – much cheaper than buying a new kindle.  Granddad didn’t lose anything thanks to Georgia’s prompt sweeping up !!

  Illnesses had:

Nana had mild case of Delhi belly when at Hikkaduwa (this I might add was after eating a western meal of pizza)! However every Sri Lankan meal caused no problems and was delicious

Currently Nanna’s quite deaf because both of her ears are blocked a case of swimming 2 to 3 times a day I think

Multipule tile cuts due to a redecorating pool.

Every one got a little sunburn as the sun is so strong.

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