Let’s see, we left off on the Sri Lankan adventure as we headed out of Kandy and into Kithulgala for an overnight stay at the Rafter’s Retreat Hotel. The hotel is, um, shall we say rustic. This isn’t to say it was bad – just more in line with camping than a hotel.
We checked in, had a snack, and then headed out to go white water rafting. The rafting was fun. The water wasn’t super high but they had us go just as the dam was being opened to give us a bit more oompf. It was interesting to watch the people bathing and washing clothes in the river as we paddled by. It was one of those moments that makes you remember that you are in another country. We we got back to our room, we ‘showered’. Ah remember how I mentioned I didn’t get great showers on this trip? Well, this was another day where we didn’t have a quality showering experience. However, I don’t want to be too hard on this place because the food was good and the staff was very friendly. We survived one night, and as a bonus I think Kassandra will stop nagging me about the fact that I have never taken her camping.
The next morning, we journeyed on to Nuwara Eliya. Before checking into our hotel, our driver suggested that we get massages. That sounded like a lovely idea. After hours spent in the car, I figured a massage would be perfect. It was okay – but apparently in Sri Lanka, just as in Thailand, they don’t really have any qualms about lack of privacy. I guess I should have learned by now that my expectation for privacy and boundaries of where I will be touched is not in line with the thinking of others when traveling abroad. Silly me.
After being all greased up, we checked into our the Gregory House, a bed and breakfast. The place is owned by the man who we booked our trip with from Blue Lanka Tours. The place itself is nice. It is appears to be on the new side with nice furnishings. It was pretty quiet, so we basically had the place to ourselves.
At this point I was craving a shower like nobody’s business, but unfortunately, I was not going to get one. The first night the shower didn’t work at all… no water. The next morning, they replaced the showering unit, but the water was so scalding hot that it was impossible to stand under the water.
While that was being worked on, we went horseback riding. Now horses are not my thing. This was done purely for the love of my daughter because I know she wanted to. We rode around Nuwara Eliya on horses named RocketMan (mine) and Tommy (Kassandra’s). Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my camera as we rode the horses. I wish I had. We went through a military area (?) and passed some men getting out of a helicopter that were well dressed and looked extremely out of place. It is those random moments on vacation that I like the best. I got a lovely sun burn around my neck during our horse ride.
On the way back to the hotel from the horseback riding, we did a mini tour of Nuwara Eliya including see a few shops (nothing to write home about) and stopping at another temple. At this temple, Sita Amman, we got to hear the story of battle that took place there and how footprints were left embedded into the rocks. More importantly, we got dobbed.
Now it was about this time of the vacation that I was starting to feel restless. This is when I realized, that for as nice as it is to be chauffeured around, I missed the spontaneity of being able to discover new things on my own. Part of the excitement of a vacation to a different country is to explore it and interact with the people. Our driver did his best to show us various things, but he was showing us the things he assumed we would find interesting – not the things that I actually found interesting. So for lunch, we ‘snuck’ away from the driver and walked into town. We had lunch as a road side restaurant called “Bite Me”. Come on! You can’t beat that name. Not to mention that it was significantly cheaper than all the hotels that we had been eating at.
After lunch, we heard the familiar tune (albeit slightly more Sri Lankan) of an ice cream truck. We followed the melody down the street like rats being led by the piper. Fortunately for us, it led us right to a park where a throng of young boys, waving rupees in their hands, were waiting to get ice cream. As we waited our turn to get ice cream bars, the boys eagerly talked to us. They were very fascinated by the fact that we are from the U.S. It was absolutely adorable listening to them answer us in their textbook English. I asked if I could take their picture, and they were happy to oblige. This was one of my favorite moments of the whole vacation, and exactly what I needed to really feel like I was traveling in another country.