It’s been an extremely long weekend of almost five days here (though we only got a day and a half off, which is a lot by our standards). It got me thinking about weekend breaks and that’s when I realised, I never really gave you all the low-down on the rest of our Sri Lankan holiday. I know it’s been quite sometime since I wrote the first two posts, sorry for the delay. If you are new, or want to catch-up on part one and two of the Sri Lankan tales, please head over to Within the Battlements and Walking the Ramparts.
Since the whole Sri Lankan stay was planned by my globe trotting little brother, R, he rejected all the usual stay options and put a lot of effort into picking places that would give us a completely different experience. The second place that he chose was for little V. She is crazy about any kind of animal, insect and plant life and so home two was an estate. The Apavilla Illuketia, which is a two hundred year old plantation house and is surrounded by ten acres of tropical gardens and paddy fields. We chose to stay at the Pond House, where V and her grandfather had great fun swinging over the lotus lake and threatening to jump in if we troubled them.
As part of the activities available, we had the option of visiting tea estates, a traditional Sinhalese village, cycling along country lanes or riding a motorcycle through the paddy fields. Our little munchkin made the decision for us, she wanted to spend the day with her animal friends on the plantation. At breakfast time she fed the fish that swam in the moat around the main house, as I quickly shoveled eggs and porridge with fresh palm sugar treacle into her little mouth. (Sri Lanka was a food nightmare for me, since every time V saw the variety of fruit and fresh produce available she refused to eat grains in any form.) She picked up little frogs and plopped them back in the water so that they could ‘spend time’ with their tadpole brothers and sisters.
Early that morning, we were lucky to catch a glimpse of a monitor lizard swimming lazily across the lotus lake and then slinking away among the lotus leaves. This got V so excited that she insisted on R taking her swimming in the pool (no not the lake), in the hope that a monitor lizard would join them. To my relief only three other children from the main house got into the pool. The best part of this property is that they have only six rooms and you have a lot of space and privacy, ideal for families with kids or honeymooners.
The afternoon was spent walking around the plantation and picking and tasting everything from pepper corns to passion fruit right off the tree, talk about the freshest of produce, literally. We caught and release colourful butterflies, watched monkeys chattering and swinging under a bright blue sky and made flower chains and crowns for oursleves. Lunch was followed by a game of football on the spacious lawns, while my mother caught up on her Gita reading and cautioned us to play carefully. R had asked for a delicious chocolate truffle cake that we cut to celebrate the reason for the trip, my mother’s 50th birthday, and then shared with everyone, staff and guests, on the property. It was a real celebration.
During tea in the lobby/ library, we leafed through old editions of Time, Vanity Fair and Harpers Bazaar, while making plans for the evening. For dinner we decided to try the other popular dining destination in the city, The Fortress. When we got there I was slightly disappointed to see, that contrary to the images the name conjures up, The Fortress is a completely new five star property on the beach. The food was of course delicious, we went for the curry along with a mix of exotic cocktails, and the service was impeccable. What really stole the show was the hidden tank, behind the pizza chef’s workplace, where a fully grown turtle was leisurely swimming around while recuperating from an injury. Most places in Sri Lanka participate in the turtle protection and conservation project, which is great to hear. When it got a bit too hot and humid for my mom outdoor’s the staff gave us seating within the cool wine cellar, which was a unique experience.
As on the previous days we headed back home by ten pm and while the older and younger members dozed off, R and I spent time catching-up over an exceptionally bad bollywood movie and a bottle of bubbly. Siblings rock.
I don’t think time can get more relaxed than this. Just looking at these pictures and going over that day in my head is taking me to my zen place.