Thursday, 15 August 2013

Relaxation at Talalla Retreat in Sri Lanka. April 2013.



Our Annual Leave fell at the same time, again where to go? Checking out the loads Vietnam looked good, but there was so much to do we didn't think we could do it justice in 6 to 8 days, so Sri Lanka was our choice.
9th April 2013; I left Manchester on EK 20 at 2100, I was so happy to get to check in and get my boarding cards through to Colombo! EK20 left on time and at 07.30 I was sat in Terminal 3 waiting to be joined by my daughter. Very soon she arrived, we had breakfast then waited to board EK 652 to Colombo, via Male. This flight departed, on time at 09.45, the plane was empty, only 60 passenger in economy, what a treat!
We arrived into Colombo at 18.30, by the time we had got through customs, changed money and visited the tourist information desk it was getting on for 20.00. We got a taxi to a hotel near to the airport and over a fabulous Gin and Tonic accompanied by a Club Sandwich and chips discussed our plans for the next few days. Both of us had been having a hectic time, me with my new role at work and TD with her broken finger and studying for promotion, so we decided to forgo the traditional sightseeing in Sri Lanka and head to a beach retreat for total relaxation instead.
10th April 2013; we were up early to get the train from Colombo Fort Station, the hotel advised us to get a taxi, not a tuk tuk to the station. As we waited for our Taxi, a group of dancers appeared in the lobby and danced traditional dances as a wedding party arrived at the hotel.
 
We left the hotel at 0800 and the taxi took us on the 20 mile journey to the station and it took well over 120 minutes, we could have walked it faster! I was starting to think we would miss the 10.30 train to Matara as advised by the Man in Seat 61 http://www.seat61.com/SriLanka.htm#.Ug0FYpVwbq4 .
We just made it, we were getting our second class tickets as the train pulled in. The return tickets cost £2.00. The masses on the platform surged forward and go on, strategically sending forward the strongest member of their party to claim seats in the carriage, being British we waited till the crowds had dispersed, we got on to find there was barely standing room for us, let alone room for our small back packs. The train follows the coast line from Colombo Fort Station to Matara and from the glimpses I got the journey looked very scenic, but as I was standing I could not see out of the window. Once the train got going a cool breeze filled the carriage from the open doors and windows and life carried on around us, infants were fed and changed, old people slept, families shared lunches and the hawkers selling fried prawns, fresh oranges, chewing gum and water did a roaring trade.
The AC on the train did not work!
 
Life goes on......
''WadiWadi'' all kind of food to go.
When we got to Galle, every one got off. We could finally sit down, as it had taken over 3 hours to get this far, I was ready for a seat.


At last we arrived in Matara, now it was just a short TukTuk ride to our destination, Tangalla. We were hoping that the Talalla Retreat would have room for us? http://www.talallaretreat.com/
and yes they did. For the next six days we followed this routine; 0700, Yoga in the Yoga Shala, 0900 Breakfast of fresh fruits and hot food. 10.00 , TD off surfing with the surf gang. 13.00 cooked lunch, 14.00 TD surfing, me to the spa or reading my book by the pool. 16.00 Yoga in the Yoga Shala, 19.00 Dinner, a buffet of meat and veg curries as well as fresh food on the BBQ. Then bed. All very restful, peaceful and total relaxation.
Talalla Retreat Yoga Shala
Talalla Retreat, Sri Lanka.

Path to the beach at Talalla Retreat

Beach at Talalla Retreat, Sri Lanka.

Beach at Talalla Retreat, Sri Lanka.

The rooms at Talalla Retreat, Sri Lanka.
We did have a break from the routine by having an afternoon at the Handunugoda Tea Estate. The taxi driver really struggled to find it, but once there he joined in the free tour as well. We had a tour of the Estate from our very knowledgeable guide, we were given a large pot of tea and home made cake in the plantation bungalow and toured the tea making factory.
Home of the Virgin White Tea, Handunugoda Tea Estate, Sri Lanka.
 

Handunugoda Tea Estate, Sri Lanka.

Handunugoda Tea Estate, Sri Lanka.

Handunugoda Tea Estate, Sri Lanka.


Sampling all the Tea at the Handunugoda Tea Estate, Sri Lanka.

Handunugoda Tea Estate, Sri Lanka

Handunugoda Tea Estate, Sri Lanka
The taxi driver then insisted on taking us on to Galle, and I am glad he did as it was very interesting exploring all the old town of Galle and walking round the ramparts and the old Dutch Fort.
Galle, Sri Lanka


On the drive back we spotted this!!!
All to soon it was time to pay our bill and head back to Matara train station.
If I thought the journey down was busy, this jorney home was packed. this time no British reserve, we got on as soon as the train appeared, but we could only find room in the 3rd class compartment but it did not matter at least we had a seat.



The train as it came into Colombo Fort Station, the reason you hang out the doors it to get air!
To get back to Dubai was a problem. the flights were full. So to make sure we got ZEDs on Oman Air and Ethihad. The Emirates flight was due to leave at 03.15 and we had arrived into Colombo at midday, so we booked into the fantastic Jet Wing Beach for the wait. This was a lovely hotel, I was not keen on all the hawkers on the beach and in the hotel grounds, but that's just because we had not had that type of thing at the retreat. we relaxed by the pool, before having an early dinner and early bed time. We were up at 01.00 to check out and get to the airport.
At the airport we checked in, but had to wait. our luck was in and at 02.45 we were given our boarding passes to get onto EK 349. This route is Singapore to Colombo to Dubai. When we got on the plane some people were in our seats, having got on at Singapore and sat in the empty seats. They were quite reluctant to move, but did eventually go back to their designated seats!

 

I had a couple of days in Dubai, then it was time for a very relaxed me to try to get a flight to Manchester. Again it was a long wait at the staff travel desk, and then a mad, last minute dash to the new A380 terminal,  where EK 017 was waiting to take me home to Manchester.  
Sri Lanka, I didn't see much of it, but what I did see I liked and I will be back to experience more of this delightful island.