The kids’ first hike!

Today we hiked up Mini Adam’s Peak here in Ella, a small peak that Vero and I have been running up early in the mornings (for those of you who don’t follow us on Strava). It’s about 6 km round trip from our hotel with around 200 m elevation gain, and of course we did it in the blazing heat of noon.

Highlights include Vero getting peed on by a monkey, many sweaty tourists looking aghast at the 5 and a 3 year old climbing the same stairs without complaining, circumnavigating two (2!) cows on the trail, and of course the spectacular views.

Riding the train

So on a whim (which is how we make all our travel choices) we decided to leave Kandy and take the train to Ella.

We did this in part because we had heard it was beautiful (and it is) but mostly because Elliot had hidden his little blue stuffed kitten inside one of the pillowcases (not the regular pillows where you might notice it, but those little, firm, decorative pillows that you immediately throw on the floor because they are aesthetically pleasing but not useful).

Why would we up and jump on a 7 hour train ride because Elliot hid a kitten? Well, the nice lady who hosted us at our first apartment happened to be on her way to the Ella area, and we decided to meet her there.

Shanika, the nice lady 🙂

It was a very crowded train, mostly filled with tourists. One of the few Sri Lankan families in our train car saw that Vero and the kids were sitting on the floor and immediately insisted on giving up his seat so the kids could sit down. His wife then proceeded to share their lunch with the kids. Typical of the kind of treatment we have received here. The local people just love kids so much that people have been going out of their way to help us out, whether it’s finding the restaurant we’re looking for, or sharing their egg sandwiches on the train. Amazing.

The train ride from Kandy to Ella took about 7 hours and went amazingly well. The nice family got off part way, so we had two seats which was enough room for all of us until I gave my seat to a pregnant lady.

Ella is spectacular and so far we have been running, visiting tea plantations and factories, and walking with the kids. Today we’re going to swim in some waterfalls!

Arrival!!

Boy-o-boy, these kids are troopers!

One hundred and fifty thousand hours on the plane, no real problems, charmed every member of the airline staff that laid eyes on them, and were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed upon arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport, Sri Lanka!

The visa procedure was procedure-free and very confusing. The immigration guy did not smile or, I think, even look at any of us in the face. Customs was literally an open door with a customs agent almost near it but pretty much off in a corner sitting on a chair. Everything we could have hoped for, and free wifi!

With a little bit of furious emailing back and forth, we were told to look out for Nirmal in a white Axio licence plate PO83234 (because he couldn’t park or come into the airport).

This gave us a chance to be solicited by forty-seven thousand taxi, tuk-tuk, and minivan drivers. Good times and then we were off to our Airbnb apartment for the rest of the night (we arrived at 3:30 local time, arrived in the apartment at 4:30 AM) The mighty kids actually put up with a cool shower before passing out.

We all slept until 2 PM and when we woke up, our host’s mother was practically waiting outside with a “welcome juice” which was a fresh juice made from papaya, pineapple and guava, and a tray of watermelon, papaya, and bananas. Talk about welcome! Most of the fruit came from the trees on the property.

We did a little sightseeing 

(so very, very white)

and went out for dinner

(food so very, very mediocre)

and then went back to our apartment. That was when things got jet-laggy.

When we’ve traveled in the past, we’ve always been able to use alcohol and caffeine to kind of bang our biological clocks into rough alignment with local time, but of course that doesn’t work with kids.

We all woke up at exactly midnight. Four hours of sleep and that was it. Like a long afternoon nap, which is what our bodies thought it was. No more sleeping. That was tricky, because the kids wanted to get up, eat breakfast, go outside… in the middle of the night.

It took three days to get the kids sleeping through the night. One week after arrival and Vero and I still wake up at 4 AM every morning.

Next up, first train ride! But first, three or more days of wifi blackout (changing hotels, this one smells funky).