First stop on our short Sri Lankan journey - Negombo

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Asia » Sri Lanka » Western Province » Negombo
July 31st 2018
Published: March 6th 2019
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One day you're preparing for your trip and the next day you're packing again and saying goodbye already... My two months holidays in Poland with the kids had gone by way too quick... Grant, on his own at home in Christchurch, surviving the winter by the log burner, would probably disagree... Still it was time for me and the kids to head back to the world’s end, to get back home... One more stop before going back to New Zealand though – a small holiday for the four of us in a country none of us has ever been to... Two (hopefully) blissful weeks in Sri Lanka! Now only to get there on my own with two kids, to get there mentally sane that is and Grant would hopefully take over from there...

As usual I was torn about leaving Poland and Ireland... I was looking forward to standing on my two feet again, doing everything my way, not having criticising eyes watching my every move with the kids... Yes grandparents sure are a big help, but can sometimes be a bit too much as well... adding a comment or two here and there, over and over again... 😉 At the same time I knew I would miss it... eventually! I was feeling sad and very, very guilty about going away. Taking away from my parents and sister the opportunity to spend more time with my kids, to watch them change and grow... After all we wouldn’t be coming back in this corner of the world in a good while... Not only was it far, far away but bloody expensive trip too! Travelling from one side of the world to the other for the family of four is sure not cheap... For now I was looking forward to getting back to my new-old home (how else would you call a newly bought house that’s over 100 years old?) and to my brand new husband of course too! 😊

I said goodbye to my parents and with a big stone on my heart went through the security gates at the Dublin airport. You’d think I had it covered seeing I somehow got to Europe with the kids on my own already. And yet no day and trip is ever the same with these two! Daniel was way more mobile than two months before, both kids were slightly more spoiled after spending two months with very caring grandparents and what a devilish hour to leave! It was almost bed time for the kids but instead I was dragging them through the airport... So after almost losing both kids and my mind at the security gates, I managed to gather all our belongings and kids! and went on a mission to find some place to chill – anything with toys or something resembling toys would do. Also I needed to feed my ‘always hungry’ children again... Ok food, then playground... got it! Thankfully we didn’t have to look for any of that for too long. Food – check, playground – check! Pheeeew... Now to the gate, running around the aisles of chairs annoying all the other passengers, the usual last moment toilet situation just before boarding and we were ready for our first flight!

It was way past bedtime for the kids, so I had no doubt there was going to be some resistance in falling asleep. Thankfully it wasn’t too bad. Still the longer they stayed awake, the less sleep they would get and it wasn’t a long, long flight... Has anyone ever hoped the flight lasted longer? For a moment I have... Silly me, as if the journey wasn’t long enough already... With Daniel being slightly taller now and sooooo restless, sleeping wasn't working that great... Still we managed to get a few hours of sleep between the three us. One flight done, one more to go!

I was hoping to get a stroller in Dubai to push Millie around and yet they were nowhere to be seen! Every few steps she would refuse to walk which was just making steam come out of my ears... With not much time to spare, we really had to get moving to catch our next flight though... I managed (just!) to stay calm and persuaded her to walk a bit more. Step by step we were slowly moving in the good direction. A note to myself – next time I need to get a different piece of luggage, something that I could drag behind me rather than carry it... Every kilo I was carrying just felt twice that weight the more we were walking... Finally at the very end of the airport, where else?, we reached our gate. We were just in time for boarding – thankfully as I was exhausted and kids were getting more and more cranky by the second... we had to get on that plane fast! So with a few louder ‘excuse me’s’ we pushed through to the front and caught the first bus. A few Sri Lankan girls were curious whether my husband would be joining me in Colombo. I sure did hope so! Finally we boarded the plane. Even though this journey was way shorter than the one to Europe, I felt way more tired. Like I said before, no journey is ever the same. Still the flight went more or less uneventfully. Just a few cries from Daniel when mom had to take Millie to the toilet or use it herself, and overtired Millie not wanting to sit in her seat. Nothing out of the ordinary... Beside that all was under control. Finally touchdown! If only we got our luggage quickly...

Not this time! We were one of the first ones out of the plane and most definitely the last ones who got the luggage, or at least most of it. After waiting for over an hour – a very long hour with Millie and Daniel overtired and wanting to see their daddy, our luggage finally appeared on the belt. We were still missing the stroller and the belt was empty... Grrrrr... Off to the luggage desk then! Thank God for the tablet as there was no other way to keep Millie occupied at this stage. Small queue but not moving at all! Surely someone would help a mum with two whining kids... Finally! I was asked to jump in front of one couple of backpackers which wasn’t received very well. Ah well... Thankfully another counter got free... Everyone happy now? Ok, let’s get on with it then. Forms signed, finally ready to leave the airport...

I was on a mission to find Grant and didn’t even pay too much attention to our surroundings. Too bad it seems, as apparently Colombo airport has a very unique section – all sorts of kitchen/bathroom equipment ready for you to pick up as soon as you leave the arrival gates. Bizarre... How could I miss that??? There was hardly anyone waiting for passengers anymore, seeing we were the last ones coming through the gates. Has anyone seen a tall, handsome Kiwi anywhere??? Finally I spotted him, he looked slightly worried... Wonder why... Yay! Family of four reunited! 😊 Move over mum, dad is here now! 😉 Now we were truly ready for our holiday!

It was dark outside already, so I didn’t have a chance to see much of Negombo. Still, we were in Asia, I was happy! The kids passed out in the car almost as soon as we hopped inside. Off to the hotel then. I booked a slightly more expensive one for the first few nights and for the last one – a bit of luxury after the journey and before another one wouldn’t hurt. On our first evening together we just decided to have dinner at the hotel restaurant. We were just too tired to venture out. We ordered Sri Lankan noodles, biryani and another rice dish as well – a mix of stuff, so the kids could have some of it as well. Thank God I tried the dishes before putting anything on kids plates! Wow! There was some amount of chillies in there! Especially the noodles were extra spicy. I ate a mouthful and felt my whole mouth on fire. Who needs silicon or Botox in their lips? Have some Sri Lankan noodles instead, natural swelling guaranteed! Ok, plain rice for the kids for now, next time a dish for them without any chillies... I’ve read about Sri Lankan food that it was quite spicy but wasn’t expecting that! Was it really that spicy or maybe we just weren’t used to the heat anymore? Time would tell...

We were all so tired that we actually managed to sleep through the night! Now we were ready to explore! First a buffet breakfast! Wow! Now we’re talking... We were spoiled for choice! Sri Lankan, continental and lots and lots of pastries and mueslis and fruit to choose from... Yum, yum! I was particularly happy with my dhal, fish curry, coconut sambol (addicting!!!!), pastries and coffee of course. Kids were happy with eggs, toasts, rice and donuts (the restaurant staff were more than happy to help Millie put all the sweets she wanted onto her plate) and Grant was happy with everything but the pastries. 😊 With full belies we were ready to explore. Almost ready... There was no way I was leaving the table without cleaning this mess. It would become more or less our routine – I was trying to pick up every piece of rice/noodle off the table and floor while the staff was trying to take me away from it. I won every time! 😊

Grant arranged a tuk-tuk through our hotel to take us on a tour of Negombo. I had no doubt that if we took a tuk-tuk off the street we would've probably paid half the price of what we agreed on in the hotel. Maybe we’d try to save money on something else later on? So the four of us jumped in the back of a tuk-tuk. Daniel ‘safely’ attached to mum in a carrier, while Millie secured only by mum and dad’s arms and legs. Who needs a seatbelt in Asia? Health and safety have a totally different meaning here... Grant already knew the driver as he took him to the fish market the day before, so while they were catching up on yesterday’s conversation I finally had a chance to look around a bit. As soon as we started driving a big smile appeared on my face! Yay! We were back in Asia once again! The people, food, smells, surroundings and the general chaos – I missed it all! One thing I didn’t necessarily miss too much was the humidity... It was hot! And sticky! With Daniel strapped onto me, it felt even hotter – for him and me! Poor little munchkin, I don’t think he’s experienced heat like that just yet. Another thing that I definitely didn’t miss about Asia at all were dogs! Lots and lots of feral dogs everywhere... Not necessarily a fear of rabies straight away, even though it would cross my mind every now and then, just those scary teeth... I should be brave, if only for the kids...

First we headed to St Mary’s Church. Millie passed out in the tuk-tuk almost as soon as we left the hotel. There was no point in waking her up and dragging her through the church only to hop back in the tuk-tuk a few minutes later, so only Daniel and I went to check it out. It was interesting to find out that Christianity was the dominant religion in Negombo. Who would’ve thought? Our driver was Christian as well, so while I wandered around the church, he took an opportunity to say a little prayer by the altar. And soon after we were off again.

Next on the list was fish market. Grant had a chance to see it the previous day and since Millie was still asleep, it was going to be a private tour only for me and Daniel again. Grant had a ‘celebrity tour’ the day before... Rick Stein’s friend was showing him around! Apparently when Rick Stein was shooting one of his cooking shows here, this guy was his guide. How about that? Almost as if walking around with Rick Stein himself! I almost had a celebrity moment as well... The same guy was there again and was ready to give me a tour... Not sure what Daniel didn’t like about this man, but as soon as he approached us Daniel started screaming and crying his eyes out. No matter how much he tried to cheer Daniel up, my little boy just wouldn’t have any of it. Too bad... no celebrity tour for me then... Our tuk-tuk friend would show me the way instead. The market itself was alright. I think I was concentrating more on not stepping in fish guts in my flip-flops rather than checking out what was around me. To be honest I found the ‘preparation and drying area’ much more interesting than the market itself. Long stretches of fish drying out on the beach, boats coming with new loads, fishermen mending the nets, people segregating the fish, cleaning it and getting it ready to be sold at the market... Everything and everyone seemed to have their own place there. It was fascinating to see it so well organised.

Next stop - Dutch clock tower/fort and prison. Just as we arrived there a new load of prisoners arrived as well. I can't say that's something I ever experienced before, probably because I'm not used to hanging around next to prisons. Interesting experience nevertheless. After that we headed to the lagoon and stopped by one of the canals. This is where most people would probably book one of the boats and cruise a bit around the lagoon. We were offered that option as well but the kids were getting slightly cranky, so we decided to skip it in the end.

On the way to the beach we stopped by a fruit and veggie market and got some supplies – we needed to have some backup for the kids in case of another super spicy meal. The beach was pretty much empty, or at least the part we went to was empty. It was slightly disappointing to be honest... You’d wonder where all the trash came from if there was nobody around. A shame... We stayed there for a little while, walking on the sand and listening to the waves crashing onto the shore. I’m pretty sure it was Millie’s favourite part of the day so far.

For the rest of the day we just decided to chill by the pool at our hotel. We all still felt tired after the journey. Couple of snacks, some beers, splashing in the pool - thankfully there was a shallow one for the kids! It was just a perfect way to finish the day. A part of me felt guilty about not exploring Negombo a bit more but at the same time we managed to balance our day quite well. A bit of exploring to satisfy mum and dad’s travel bug and a bit of playtime for the kids to keep them entertained. In the end everyone was happy so I think we did pretty good.

We were leaving Negombo the following day and even though we didn’t spend too much time here, we had a chance to see the best bits of it or at least that’s what it seemed like. After reading other blogs I knew the best of Sri Lanka was still ahead of us, Negombo was just a gateway to it. The town didn’t necessarily win over our hearts but it was a pleasant stop on our small journey through Sri Lanka and it more or less gave us an idea of what to expect in this country... We were definitely hungry for more... Next stop: Kandy!

Additional photos below
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7th March 2019

You are a brave soul! Traveling with children looks impossible, but you make it sound easy. Sri Lanka will be a challenge...just like the spicy food, as you found out. Negombo is just that, a gateway. I know You will really enjoy Kandy.
14th March 2019

I'm not as brave as you may think. Travelling with kids sometimes feels easier than the normal day-to-day life. Always something new around, you buy food instead of making it, no chores to do... Routine is a killer! ;) We did this trip half a year ago... time flies! And we absolutely loved Sri Lanka! Hoping to catch up with blogging eventually... Thanks for your comment Andrea :)
8th March 2019

Fishy business!
I'm very curious that you didn't mention the intense stench of the fish drying in the heat! :( Or maybe you are much hardier in that department than I am... because oh my goodness, it was *almost* unbearable. Looking forward to following the rest of your trip on the island :)
14th March 2019

Fishy business!
To be honest I can't really remember the stench which is strange as my nose is quite sensitive... Too many things to concentrate on I guess - the heat, sweaty and very wriggly baby, trying not to drop camera in fish guts, not stepping in fish guts... I think I might have just blocked the rest... ;) Thanks for reading :)
8th March 2019

Sri Lanka
Glad you made it safely with the kids and all the equipment. A nice balance of exploring and chilling.
14th March 2019

Sri Lanka
Yes balance, that's our priority now! Trying to keep all four souls happy :)

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