Destinations,  Family,  Sri Lanka,  Stories

Sri Lanka Week 1: In search of the Small Lane.

Well, our plan was to settle; and then launch.  We haven’t quite ‘launched’ yet!

Needless to say, like any well planned coaching move, it hasn’t quite been executed as well as we would have dreamed it to.  If we’re half way through the first quarter, then we still haven’t settled. We didn’t expect to necessarily, but hoped to. It didn’t happen.  It happens. We most definitely scored, maybe a goal, most definitely a few behinds. We’re looking forward to quarter time. We hope that’s what Hiri (Hiriketiya Beach) is about – a quarter time break to assess.  

Highlights and Lowlights

We start off with Highlights and Lowlights. If you follow Lisa’s Insta: TheSmallLane then you’ll know that there have been significant of both! This is enough hopefully for the ‘time poor’ or ‘vaguely interested’ among you.

Highlights of week 1

  1. The bottom sprayers (hand held bidets) for Issy and Etta, a novelty that’s turned to an everyday use.
  2. The 230 LKR and then the 150 LKR lunch packets ($1.50 – $1.00 for deliciousness)
  3. Evie’s 1st birthday and 1st steps
  4. YoyoZen Pram, ‘carryonable’ and able to take on the oriental world – one uneven path at a time. Great recommendation from Our Tribe Travels Facebook Group.
  5. 100 LKR (75 cent) Tiger and Lion Beers (always a highlight!)

Low lights of week 1

  1. The Hospital Visits: Evie’s 1st bug – enough vomit and diarrhea to leave her severely dehydrated and needing 2 visits to the doctor (including an admission, IV drip and overnight stay).
  2. The early morning wake ups (new time zone kicked in around Day 6 for our 3.)
  3. The older girl’s exhaustion and tantrums at missing Prancer (our cat) – heavily related to 2 above!
Evie Post IV-Drip for Dehydration on Day 5

Read on for a week one ‘Dear Loved Ones’ if you like a good read, or just are interested family and friends…

Dear Loved Ones,

The plane trip

Last Tuesday morning, 15 January at 7.30am we 4.5 Rosses made our way up the Geelong Road from Adam’s folks house to Avalon Airport. We were to fly AirAsia to Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport.  Some
22 hours 15 minutes later we arrived in the heart of Colombo’s No 3 District, Kollupitiya at our AirBNB; midnight Sri Lanka Standard Time (SST), or 5.30am by our yet to be updated watches, Melbourne time.

I don’t need to describe it, because the maths is enough.  3 girls + 2 ‘on’ adults = 5 exhausted little munchkins come Wednesday morning at 5.30am (SST) when everyone decided to wake and start their day.

In reality the plane trips both went extremely well.  Air Asia – No turbulence. No issues. And certainly no bells and whistles.

We had a win with our luggage, deciding to check one bag (weigh in 17.8 kgs) and carry on:

  • 2 main backpacks
  • 2 smaller backpacks for the girls with goodies for each; and
  • the BabyZen Yoyo travel pram that fits into overhead luggage (and therefore giving us access to the pram during our layover in Kuala Lumpur’s KLIA2).   Winner.
Our main luggage. The smaller backpack on the right houses a foldaway backpack that we used on the plane. The girls have some little ‘goodie backpacks’ as well to keep them entertained.

All an inspired move, although total carry on would be heaven on a stick as the hour wait at Air Asia’s new International Terminal to check the bag in is not an ideal way to start a trip.  

KLIA2 is a wicked airport, with sweet food and outstanding facilities and for the third time in a row, Lise and I took the liberty of using the SamaSama Transit Hotel, upgrading to the princely sum of $88 for a room with a view, that included Queen Bed, towels and showers and a lovely view of the outgoing planes.  All recommended if you don’t want to fork out the extra $1000s for direct flights.

(Sidenote: To go stoic on myself though, the check-in wait certainly provided the first lessons to us in patience – of which we’ve had many since, and allowed Lisa and I one last ‘decent’ Melbourne three-quarter, double strength chia soy-latte coffee before takeoff. Bellissimo. Can I say however, that the nescafe in Colombo is outstanding, particularly for a country so well known for its expertise in tea.)

Observation #1 – Tuk Tuks are like Uno Cards

Have you ever realised how closely Tuk Tuk’s remind you of Uno Cars.  Red Red Red Black and then Green. Just when you need a Yellow too. So, yes, we played a lot of uno early and also caught a lot of Tuk Tuks.  It’s an amazing world when UberTuk exists, and costs anywhere between 60 LKR and 180 LKR to take a 15 minute trip (that’s between 50c and $1.50 for those you enjoy exchange rates).

Etta, Evelyn and Issy all embraced the more simple Tuk Tuk.  And were keeping a tally of the colours they had tripped around in.  What started with a “Mum and Dad on the outside kids” discussion very quickly has turned into a fight for the ‘window seat’, with Mum and Dad stuck in the middle and keeping a tight hold on their little 12 and 15 kilo packages either side of them.

In terms of TukTuk or Uber rides we heavily centred on kid friendly activities:

  • visited Water’s Edge, some 20 minutes (or 400 LKR – $3 Uber) out of town on the advice of the TravelLynnFamily – and it was wicked. Massive playground that kept the kids entertained for hours and then an amazing hotel with equal amazing pool that got us through to around 2pm that day.
  • went to Viharamahadevi Park (Victoria Park) playground
  • and an evening at Galle Face Green which was sort of akin to a fair/country show overlooking the ocean/sunset.

The little ones have embraced Sri Lanka’s noise and hecticness.   There is yet to be a flinch (let alone an acknowledgement) to the constant cheek rubs each gets as they walk down the street.  Issy has tried and enjoyed the rottis and the hoppers on offer at local establishments, and we have bribed Etta’s compliance to our own OHS-requirements through offers of dummy use and lollypops in rotating sequence.  Lise explained to Issy that the attention is due to us looking different – which Issy later interpreted to Etta that some of the people look at her because they are frightened of her.

(Sidenote:  It’s said that China is a major player in the growing rise in middle class across Asia, however Japan/India are having a fair crack at it to.  The step up from a Tuk Tuk is an UberGo which generally is a little Suzuki Wagon modelled in the shape (and efficiency) of a Tuk Tuk. The only difference is some windows and an extra wheel.  Well done Mr Suzuki. Well done Sri Lanka. Mutual benefit all round.)

Observation 2: Travel with kids is slightly much harder than without kids.  

I think this is a known, but let’s get it out there early.  Raising kids is damn hard. It doesn’t matter where in the world it happens.  We’ve attempted to travel slowly in the first couple of days to let everyone settle.  However, we temper this with the philosophy that the best way to get over jet lag is to get out and about and get some sunshine (and also provide Mum and Dad with some level of sanity that can’t exist stuck in an apartment for 10 hours a day with 3 little ones under 5).   

Evie’s Hospital Visit!

Evie getting crook on her birthday (Saturday) was not ideal. That, hindsight, is an understated. Evie getting crook rocked us to our bones. 4 days in, we could have been in Burma / Vietnam / Bali on a flying 10 day visit, but so soon on such a big undertaking. Very tough, and has many a discussion and thought bubbles popping up in both our heads. Of course.

By Sunday night she’d lost a fair bit of fluid and we took her to the local private hospital first thing Monday morning.  The treatment was excellent and only cost $90 and a couple of hours. The advice was to give her fluids, anti-nausea tablets and see out the bug.  Post visit we set off to Hiriketiya, confident that we’d get her through.

Scarily, we woke up the next morning to a listless Evie. We’re lucky to have never had a listless baby (that I can remember), but it’s not a nice feeling.

Lisa set off immediately for the local hospital and 1.5 hours later we had her on an IV drip replacing those fluids. Safe to say, I’m glad to have both Lisa and Evie home and happy, and to have an occurrence like this 4 days in (knowing we’d face it at some stage) is tremendously unfortunate but also ground-shaking.  We will take it very easily and conservative over the next few weeks and get back on some more solid ground.

A happy Evie at the end. Had us worried though.

Etta and Issy’s safety

If dehydration is the number 1 cause of hospital visits for 0-2 year olds; then trauma due to accident is for 2-5 year olds. And we need ours on a very tight leash to insure this doesn’t occur.

Every day has consisted of either a swim or a play at a local playground. Fair to say OHS and Maintenance aren’t huge line items in the Municipal Budgets over the last few years.  Each playground that we’ve been to has at least 2 slides out of action (and with missing pieces in the middle of the slides).

Hazards that we’ve come across thus far include:

  • Etta locking all three girls in the bathroom in our first AirBNB and luckily Issy having enough skill to get them out. At one stage, it felt like an operation similar to getting a Thai Soccer Team out of the caves.
  • Etta nearly losing her arm in the lift in our first AirBNB. (No automated sensor here!)
  • Issy wanting to dive off the 3 and 10 metre platforms at the local pool.
  • Etta taking off her floaties in the pool while under the supervision of Dad and Issy and Dad having to rescue.
  • Etta getting twisted in her mosquito net at 2am in the morning.
  • Adam and Lisa sticking pens/lollipop sticks/skewers into powerpoints to get their two prong adapters to fit.

There’s a common theme here, and although most of the time fantastic, there is no doubt both of our older children (Read: Etta) need a watchful eye at all times.

Observation 3: We learned that travel with our 3 kids is not about cafes, beers, beaches and walking tours anymore Toto.

Not a surprise but a culture shock nevertheless.  We have never travelled this way; as a family. It’s different and will take some time to find our feet. There is part of us that misses the carefree days of pre-child travel. That’s a different kind of freedom.  And I’m sure it drives our motivation to find what works with children.

Our cafe experiences this week have seen children eat from the floor, play chasey around the cafe rather than sit politely and eat; and have been either a wake up call or a reinforcement (I’m not sure which) of what our travel journey will be like – that’s for sure.

We’re eating short eats (little fried baked goods) each morning, and smashing waters buying 5-10L each day, continuously filling the two CamelBaks that we own.

Probably only relevant to you that are looking to visit Sri Lanka some time soon, but we ate from some awesome places, in no particular order, but all of the highest order:

  • Cafe on 5th, Colombo 3: Beautiful Sri Lankan colonial building with open walls and ceiling fans.
  • Raheema Hotel (https://goo.gl/maps/tE72Bo4zrb32) and Susila Food Cabin (https://goo.gl/maps/dM1JiyUQjGL2)  do outstanding Lunch Packets (Curry and Rice takeaway boxes/bags) for extremely cheap (around 230 to 150 LKR ($1.50-$1 AUD) including 4 curries) which worked well for us with some restless tackers.  Really, these are just local eateries that are filled with locals, so you go in and point and say ‘I’ll have what he’s having.”
  • UberEats worked well: We ordered a Thai Curry and Caeser Salad from Commons (an Upmarket Cafe / Restaurant) to our AirBNB at On320 Union Place.  
  • Milk and Honey Cafe:  brilliant for a coffee, some lawn for the kids to play on; and we went to celebrate Evie’s first birthday!
  • Park Street Mews was also a nice area to grab some Italian Takeaway (Ads’ took a cheeky beer in the mews while waiting)

Our littlest Evie, had her first birthday on Saturday at Milk and Honey, has had a huge week, she started walking this week, and also has had two stints in hospital. We hope that her journey is a little smoother from here on in.

Let us know what you are up to please and we’ll keep you informed of our movements!

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