OUR FAMILY ADVENTURE THROUGH SOUTHEAST ASIA- PART THREE

Pictures and video are included at the end of each segment.

 

DIVE SAFARI, MALDIVES

MARCH 7TH, 2015- SHARK DIVING AT NIGHT
By: Mikayla

Since the diving incident yesterday, I’ve decided not to dive today. Everyone else will probably be doing three dives today, one dive at 6:00a.m., a dive at 10:30, and a night dive at 6:00p.m.

Dad did all three dives today, he also went fishing, and Tyla did the night dive. My day today involved suntanning with the ladies on the lido deck, listening to music, relaxing, reading, fishing for squid, and watching the sun go down. Mostly I just tried to forget about yesterday!

My dad came back with the guys from fishing and they caught a Dog Tooth Tuna. Sashimi for lunch tomorrow, yay!

My sister and dad came back from the night dive and said there were about 100 sharks and stingrays that they could touch. Ingolf who has had over 2000 dives, said that this was his best night dive he’s ever had.

They dove with flashlights through a pass, which had some current, and awesome visibility. Resting on the bottom on their knees, they witnessed two nurse sharks mating. The male was biting on to the females fin, and they were rolling around each other.

Huge eagle rays were touching their faces and suits. They were able to pet and stroke the nurse sharks that were swimming against there bodies, some of them were bigger than my dad! Looking up at the surface with their flashlights, they could see more than 100 sharks circling above. These sharks come here for feeding, from the resort of the atoll, it sounded so incredible, and everyone was so excited when they got back to the boat!

Ingolf and Micheal took videos of this amazing dive and I was lucky to see this adventure. I’m so proud of my sister for doing this advanced night dive, way to go sis! She said her heart was pounding with excitement and she can’t wait for tomorrows night dive. Everyone celebrated with wine and watched the video with awe. Can’t wait to dive tomorrow.

 

MARCH 8TH, 2015- MORE DIVING!
By: Tyla

Our day started off by diving on a reef with the whole family. We dove to 60 feet for 61 minutes, and enjoyed a relaxing, no current, and colorful dive. It was the perfect first dive for Mikayla since the “incident”.

When we arrived back, I relaxed and read my book until it was time to decide if I wanted to do another night dive, in the end I headed to the boat with my dad and we geared up and drove to our destination.
By the time we arrived, the sun was setting, perfect timing! Everyone jumped in the water, but this time there was a medium current so we had to descend to the bottom right away. When I reached the bottom with my dad, we started to swim with the current trying to find a spot to see some sharks.
When we found a decent spot, we grabbed onto some coral so the current wouldn’t take us away. Luckily I was given a “reef hook” for this dive, so I simply took it out of my BCD, clipped it to a rock, and hung in the current without having to hang on, hands-free!

It was starting to look like yesterday’s night dive was way better, we didn’t see that many sharks or rays this time, and there were way more divers around us, flashing lights everywhere and in our faces.
We still got to touch and play with a few, but it looks like yesterday’s dive was a dive of a lifetime. Just as we were about to go, I did see my first Black tip reef shark, that was awesome!

We slowly swam to the surface as the boat came and picked us up. We went to 70 feet for 50 minutes

We arrived back and about ten minutes later, dinner was served! Yummy my favorite part of the day.
After I ate I headed straight to bed. What a fantastic day!

 

MARCH 9TH, 2015- BIRTHDAY ON THE BEACH
By: Mikayla

We are at Felidhe atoll enjoying the hot weather in the Maldives. For schoolwork my dad, my sister and I did blog entries for a couple of hours.

In the mid afternoon my mom, my sister and a couple of other people, and I went snorkeling for an hour. We saw Gilded Pipefish, Oriental Sweetlips, Sea Horse, Rockcods and many more.

My dad went on three dives today, my sister did one dive, my mom did a dive as well. Another cool thing they saw was the Golden wall which had yellow soft coral hanging from the walls. Tyla did her deepest dive at 95 feet, and she also went through some cool caves with dad. I didn’t feel like diving that day but I said that I would dive the next day. They said that they saw so many cool things like Giant moray, Napoleon fish, a Turtle, and a big school of big eye travelle.

Since it was Naomi’s birthday we planned a little beach/birthday party barbecue on a private sand island. We went on little boats to the beach that were filled with all the trays of food. During the day the workers built a whale shark table out of sand, about 20 feet long, which we would sit around for dinner. On this sculpture they also used black sand for the body, and white sand for the spots, which were evenly placed on the whole whale shark, this looked so real.

They dug little holes in the sand around the perimeter of the party, which had lit candles inside. Everyone was so surprised and in awe at how amazing it was.

For dinner we had rice, mama-noodles, spaghetti, salad, fish, chicken and for fruit orange, watermelon and pineapple. What a feast! Everyone was so tired and ready to head back to the yacht. We went to bed happy and stuffed.

 

MARCH 10TH, 2015- SUNRISE DIVE
By: Tyla

My dad was going to do an early morning sunrise dive leaving at 5:30am. It was 135 foot, blue water dive in the dark to see hopefully see Hammerhead sharks. Unfortunately, the sharks didn’t cooperate but the rest of the dive turned out to be very cool anyways, especially as the sun came up and the light changed.

Today was sunny with no clouds, which made for a perfect second dive today. It was Mikayla’s most comfortable dive and she achieved the perfect buoyancy. The visibility was okay, and I did see some giant clams, corals I’ve never seen before, and huge anemones. Our dive went to 60 feet for 50 minutes. It was nice to see my sister building back her confidence.

When we arrived back, the boats anchor was pulled up and we headed to our next destination.

 

MARCH 11TH, 2015- ISLAND ADVENTURES
By: Mikayla

The dive master likes to plan for three dives a day. The nice thing about this charter, is the dives are unlimited for everybody on the yacht. Our dive master name is Ebbe, but who’s nicknamed Blue, dives every single day except one week in a year. Ebbe draws a plan on a white board, where the current is, where the most colorful fish and corals are, and the depth. Most morning dives start around 6:30 or 7:00, and these are usually our deep dives for the day. The second dive is at a lesser depth, and the third dive is about the same but with longer surface intervals to allow for Nitrogen to leave our bodies. When we come back from diving there’s always “food”, and everyone is always starving.

Peter the chef always bakes buns, bread, and chocolate filled croissants from scratch. All the food is so fresh, arranged in buffet style for 17 people every day, so he’s up at four am. every morning.

Our second dive is usually around eleven, so for lunch Peter prepares something different everyday, and rings “THE BELL” when it’s ready, everyone comes running.

Dad has gone on all the dives so far, and this morning’s dive was drifting through a channel. He saw five black tip sharks, and a spotted ray.

The second dive was around Kuda Rah Thila, which is a mound of coral and rock attached to the seabed. My mom, dad, and I dove here for 45 minutes, to 26.5 meters. We swam around and around the Thila, observing all the tiny creatures living on the mound. The water was the clearest so far, so many schools of fish, and my mom saw her first shark in the Maldives.

Dad went on the third dive, and the rest of our family were dropped off at a white sand beach to shell collect, and look around. We were surprised to see how much garbage had floated to this beach. Everything from flip flops, to every type of plastic container. Later we were informed that only 20% of this rubbish was from the Maldives and the rest is from India. These countries don’t have recycling programs that we do in North America, a lot of their garbage is thrown overboard, it’s so sad to see in such a beautiful place. On a positive note, the water was really warm, and there was lots of shells, such as Abalone, Cowries, and cone shells.

In the evening, we grabbed pillows and blankets, and headed up to the top deck to look at the stars, and enjoy the cool evening breeze. Goodnight.

 

MARCH 12TH, 2015- SOUTH ARI ATOLL
By: Tyla

We’ve been looking forward to this dive at Manta Point. Our dive was at 16 meters for 78 minutes, and our idea was that we would wait on the bottom for the mantas to come and feed. After about 20 minutes, the first one showed up/ They looked amazing, we watched them spin around doing loops while feeding on plankton and little fish. They were huge and had wing spans of about 15 feet, and had white bellies with huge filter mouths. Sometimes they would just sit still and float around, it was so cool! We were so close, that my dad touched one and the GoPro was within inches of them.

While we waited for more mantas to come, there were tiny eels that would come out and bite our fins, they thought they were tough, but they weren’t. I also spotted a white tip reef shark and touched a turtle.

We didn’t see any more Manta’s, so we decided to head up and end the dive. While I was doing my safety stop, a manta swam bye 25 feet away. What a nice way to end a dive, with one more sighting!

Our next spot was a two hour boat ride, and we were going to snorkel with whale sharks. The good thing was, we saw a huge whale shark within five feet of us, and it was about 30 feet long, in 20 feet of water and we swam right beside him when we dove down.

The bad part was that there were about 50 other people there kicking and smashing into us to try and keep up with the whale shark. So it was fight for your territory, or get kicked, and head butted by frantic snorkelers. At least we got to see one.

We were invited bye Ingolf Winter and his family, to go for a special dinner at a the Resort Mirihi. Amy is the owner, and has staff of a 152 working there that live on the island. It has thirty eight bungalows, that can accommodate 78 people. Ingolf and his family have been going to this place for 10 years, and I must say, I know why. Everything is five star here. They used soft white sand as their floors in the restaurants and lounge areas, and everything flows perfectly with the natural surroundings.

They had arrange to have a table for 18 on the beach just for us, fully set with candles and tiki torches all around. Wow, the food was amazing, we had an unbelievable selection of food, including Wagyu beef tenderloin, Australian special reserve lamb chops, First Grade Ahi tuna steaks, gigantic local lobsters, with all the side dishes and trimmings you could imagine. The food was piled on huge platters and you just told them what you wanted grilled. The wine pairings apparently were delicious, but better yet was the triple display dessert platter for each person! This was such a wonderful night, I felt like Cinderella!

 

MARCH 13TH- SOUTH ARI ATOLL
By: Mikayla

We have been at this atoll for two days, and yesterday’s manta dive was so spectacular that we repeated the dive. Even though last night was the party at Mirihi resort, we had a pretty good turnout for divers. Mom and dad did the morning dive to 14.5 meters for 78 minutes. This time they saw five mantas that were feeding on the plankton right in front of them. Dad was able to touch one the wings, and filmed inside its mouth. They also saw two small sharks, and a huge Napoleon fish.

The yacht drove for two hours to the next destination which was the Panettone dive. Dad, Mom, and Tyla dove here to 27 meters for 50 minutes. This was moms strongest current dive, but they were able to tuck behind overhangs and caves to enjoy the five different colored soft corals hanging on all the rocks. Tyla spotted two Stone fish and warned everyone. My parents were impressed with how well she handles herself in the current, she’s so calm and aware of everything around her.

Dad dove the third dive to the Pesdhoo Wreck at 29 meters and finished at the Mine Reef, so my mom and I decided to snorkel at the House Reef. We saw white tip reef sharks, enormous clams, and different kinds of corals.  Good exercise for the day.

 

MARCH 14TH, 2015- ISABELLE’S BIRTHDAY
By: Tyla

Today the boat was arriving at our new destination for diving at Hafza Thila. We took the smaller dive boat, and headed to our new dive spot, once we arrived, we got our gear on, jumped in, and started descending. At about 10 feet Mikayla was having trouble with her regulator, it was filling up with water and she was having trouble breathing. So my dad and Mikayla had to abort the dive.

My mom and I continued the dive to 100 feet for 56 minutes, we saw about 18 small white tip reef sharks, and one large 5 footer. There were many over hangs with soft corals dangling from the top in bright colors. We had found out after the dive that my sisters regulator had a fold in the mouth piece, which caused water to pour in, it was a simple fix, but they missed the dive anyways.

The second and third dive were at Fishhead Thila, this would be a harder dive, so only dad would be doing these. This dive had a full flow current which made descending a bit difficult.
Dad dove down to 120 feet, and was able to swim out of the current and enjoy the rest of his dive.

We waited till the sun was setting and headed over to a smaller island to have a barbecue for Isabelle’s
birthday. When we arrived, there was a path lit by candles that led to a dinning table that was nicely set. Not too far away were sand sculptures of a dolphin, manta ray, shark, and a whale shark. They were amazing.

Peter the chef had made a wonderful dinner yet again, including a birthday cake! The lighting was perfect and there was music playing so everyone had a little dance. When we arrived back the crew was playing music on the boat, and everyone had fun and danced some more.

 

MARCH 15th, SOME GOODBYE’S
By: Mikayla

Dad was the only person from our family diving today. There were only four divers because Berndt, Marion, Klaus, and Thorson were flying back to Germany. Dad filmed Ebbe stroking two morays under their chins, Dad also played with a turtle, who kept nudging the Go Pro with his head. There were no more dives for the day, so everyone was reading, relaxing, and suntanning.

Suddenly we heard a huge splash, and Tyla “the brave one” jumped off the third level of the yacht which was about 35 feet. Now the jumping competition began, the daring ones jumped from the very top, and landed with success. The second level jumpers were called “coco lows”, which means chicken, or scaredy cats. They were the loudest and goofiest of all the people there. The first level jumpers couldn’t and wouldn’t even jump, they were mostly the crew. What a great way to spend an afternoon in the sun.

 

MARCH 16TH, 2015- WHALE SHARKS
By: Tyla

We woke up to a day with big seas, thunder heads and strong winds. We took the dive boat to the outside reef called Maamignili, we spent three hours on the boat searching for whale sharks. We spotted two in that three hour period,with half of the people snorkeling and half diving. All the snorkels were able to see the whale shark, but my dad was the only one actually swim close and see it. He swam right beside it looking it right in the eye, and gliding right over top of it. He was all by himself with no other divers around and was there for 18 minutes taking some amazing footage, you can see it on his Facebook.

The dive boat went on the outside of the South Ari atoll to look for more whale sharks. Sadly they didn’t find any, and met us at manta point. This was a good excursion to skip!
The yacht motored on the inside of the reef, to meet up with the dive boat and the dive boat tried numerous times to tie up to the yacht, but the waves were to big so it was unable to work. The small dinghie went to rescue the guests, and safely return them to the mother ship.

The manta point dive was canceled due to high seas. As we were searching for a safe anchorage, we also found a calm spot to dive. This was a family dive on the house reef of Bullha Lhohi. This was a dive to 22.5 meters for 56 minutes. The visibility was 50 feet and we saw, a purple and yellow nudibranks, cleaning shrimp, a large black Eel, white stringy coral, a spotted ray, and a long fin starfish, this dive had no problems and was very enjoyable.

 

MARCH 17TH- ST. PATRICK’S DAY
By: Mikayla

Our family dive to Rangali Outside was a reef dive, which would be both challenging and interesting. The current was light but the ocean surge was strong. It was hard to control our buoyancy, and equalization within 20 feet of the surface. The up and down movements made our ears plugged and we felt a little bit dizzy. Our dive was to 25 meters for 51 minutes. We encountered two white tip sharks, two turtles, a leopard and a black moray.

We returned to the Mirihi resort to meet up with Gabby, Ingolf’s wife, who just flew in from Germany. It was her birthday today so Ingolf invited us to a special buffet lunch at the resort. The variety of food was unbelievable, and mostly made to order, so not like any regular buffet.

A thunder storm approached us, and we all ran for cover, but it only lasted for a few minutes and it was over. The afternoon was relaxing on the boat with Ebbe finally jumping off the third level of the yacht.

 

MARCH 18-19TH.

Pretty quiet days as are most transit days. We did a lot of school work and blog entries. We traveled back to Male, stayed a night in town, and got ready for a flight to Sri Lanka the next day.

 

 

This is a great video of a special moment I had alone with a Whale Shark while scuba diving.  Six of us jumped in but the fish sounded and went deep, I kept swimming in his general direction and then he appeared, heading straight up to the surface.  You can see this at the beginning.  I followed him down again, a very special moment in my life.  We have much more video including an awesome 30 minute movie highlighting our entire dive dive trip.  As soon as we get anything resembling decent internet speed, we will upload it.


Here is another quick video of a Manta encounter.  You will notice Adriana near the end of the video enjoying an awesome fly-by!

 

 

 

 

 

 

SRI LANKA

MARCH 20TH, 2015
By: Tyla

Today we were heading to Sri Lanka for three weeks, it would only be an hour flight, and we are renting a Villa on the beach for one week with Michael and Isabelle. We arrived in Sri Lanka, and ,wow, was it ever unique! Very different from the Maldives or the Philippines.

We had arranged for a taxi van to pick us up at the airport and drive us to the villa. We first drove through Colombo to pick up some supplies and snacks. This place was busy, with honking horns,  tuk tuks zipping everywhere, and buses driving like maniacs. We then headed to the highway to take a long five hour car ride to the villa. I really enjoyed the drive, we saw tea trees, rubber trees, cinnamon trees, pillow stuffing trees, and banana trees.

When the five hours was coming to an end, we turned off onto a dirt road that lead to the villa. It had a pool with loungers, and coconut trees all around it, four air-conditioned rooms with en suites, three staff including a cook, gardener, and pool cleaner. There was a gate that lead to a yellow sand beach with waves coming from Antarctica. We spent the rest off the evening in the pool, relaxing, and having a great dinner.

 

MARCH 21ST, 2015- FIRST DAY IN SRI LANKA
By: Mikayla

We woke up and went down to have breakfast. While we were eating I saw something move in the grass, I looked closer and saw what it thought was a lizard, but it couldn’t be because it was so huge. I didn’t think it was real, until it moved. I screamed to everyone and they all dropped their forks and jumped up to see what I was pointing at. My dad yelled, “it’s a Monitor Lizard!”. Michael and my mom ran to get their cameras and we walked closer to get a good look. The water Monitor was about four feet long, it was huge! We got really close to it and were lucky to get some great photos.

We finished breakfast, and the Gardner came running to tell us that there were monkeys at the front gate. We all ran to see the cook dumping a bucket of fruit pieces out for the monkeys. One by one they came out of the trees, three had babies hanging off them, it was cute!

After that we went swimming in the pool. Through out the afternoon we lounged, read, and baked in the sun. We watched a man who works here clime up a palm tree and chopped down some fresh coconuts, which he prepared and served to us in the pool, it was so awesome!

 

MARCH 22ND, 2015- MARKET DAY
By: Tyla

The mornings here are beautiful. With a cool marine mist, gentle breeze, and the sound of crashing waves, what a great way to start your day! We have been walking down to the beach to watch the sunrise, the mornings are usually brisk with the cool marine air, and it is neat to feel the change as the sun rises and the day starts to warm up.

My parents had noticed some locals bringing in a huge net from the ocean to collect fish, so they decided to help. They said it was hard work for what they had brought in, only tiny fish, and a few medium to smaller sized fish, but it was a great cultural experience with the local fisherman.

We had made a plan to take a taxi to the local market and get some groceries for the cook. When we arrived there, it was so busy! There was so many different fruits, and vegetables, and people everywhere. It wasn’t even smelly at all, it actually had a very nice aroma in the air.

After buying a few thing we headed back to the villa to enjoy some coconuts and swimming in the pool.

 

MARCH 23RD, 2015- SAFARI AT UDA WALAWE PARK RESERVE
By: Mikayla

Today was an exciting day for everyone because we were going on a safari. We ate breakfast, and Sanjay from Lanka Trackers arrived in his jeep to pick us up. The jeep was an old 4×4 that had a pop up roof and bench seats in the back.

The drive to Uda Walawe Park Reserve was two hours. About half way, we stopped and hopped out to see three thousand fruit bats hanging in the trees beside a river, it was amazing. Some of the vegetation Sanjay showed us was black pepper, banana plantations, rice fields, egg plant bushes, and dragon fruit trees.

We arrived to the elephant orphanage and proceeded behind a little fence. The elephants were fed with a giant milk bottle, and played around with each other. There was also an elephant that had a prosthetic leg, it was so sad to see, but better then the alternative I guess. There was a cute little elephant that kept running away from one of the workers, it was so funny. The older elephants wouldn’t share the food with the small elephants, so they had to eat dried up leaves and twigs. One of the elephants knelt down on their knees to drink the milk because they were too tall.

We ate at a buffet and left to go on to the safari. First off we went to an elephant water hole, there were about 20 elephants in the water and there was a baby as well. They gave themselves mud baths and ran in the water to rinse off and play. They protected the baby by pushing it underwater so it wouldn’t be seen by predators, and always kept the baby in the middle of the adults. It was amazing how they could hide her and keep her protected as a family.

There were different terrains in the reserve like jungle, and low brush. We drove through a river and lost a window. There were about 10 crocodiles in the river including one that was over ten feet long! There were soft shell turtles, a variety of birds like a kingfisher, a parakeet and many more, as well as water buffalo, land monitors, monkeys, mongoose, peacocks, including one that opened their tail for us.

During the safari it got very hot and there was no wind, everyone was sweating and drinking water every minute.

While we were driving there was a herd of elephants and a baby, they all ran to one side of the road but the baby was left on the opposite side. It started crying and running to find its mother it was quite the show like a little kid having a temper tantrum. When he finally met up with his mom, he cried even louder like he was giving her hell.

The total of elephants we saw were 81, that was more than any other safari that day, and three times as many as most.

What a day of education, and enjoyment, something I will never forget.

 

MARCH 24TH/25TH- RELAXING & GOODBYE’S
By: Mikayala

We woke up, ate breakfast, and jumped in the pool. We suntanned and relaxed, except my dad and Michael, who mostly drank cocktails and started to get silly.

By mid afternoon, Michael and dad were feeling no pain, and were now jumping the monster waves in the ocean, and stumbling on the beach laughing like kids. Well, let’s just say that the show got pretty interesting with the two of them as we moved into the evening hours. We were all pretty happy when Dad, the star of the show, finally stayed in bed.

Early the next morning, Michael and Isabelle had to leave. My dad and Michael were pretty quiet for some reason. But everyone had big hugs and kisses as we sent them on their way. We will miss them.

 

MARCH 26TH, 2015- THE MULKIRIGALA ROCK MONESTARY

Today was an early morning, getting up at 5:30 to catch a van to the temple/monastery of Mulkirigala, a Buddhist site in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. The drive was two and a half hours, and it was pretty busy for this early in the morning. Kids were already going to school, with matching uniforms and nicely done hair, old men with sarongs taking their early morning walk, while dogs sat on the side of the road, not scared one bit by the cars speeding by.

We arrived at the Rock monastery which is a series of rock temples carved out of a huge rock mountain which rises 200 meters out of the Palm Forest. There were four terraces, each had temples with statues of Sleeping Buddha, Dead Buddha, and other gods.

We climbed over 500 stairs to reach the top and were sweating, gulping down water, and dragging ourselves up the stairs, but it was worth it. At the top, our guide snuck us over the rail and through the bushes. When we came out, we were on a massive rock outcrop with a sheer drop over 800 feet straight down. The view was stunning. The way down was much easier and had a nice cool breeze. I had enjoyed this very much, as it was very educational.

The drive back was relaxing and everyone had a nice nap. The rest of the day was spent by the pool.

 

MARCH 27TH, 2015- NEW DESTINATION
By: Mikayla

We stayed one week in Lanka Beach Villa and are now moving on to Unawatuna, a two and a half hour drive up the South-West coast of Sir Lanka.

The driving was crazy, people honking, roads winding, lots and lots of tuk tuks, buses, motorbikes, vans, trucks, and scooters. We were surprised that we haven’t seen any accidents. On the roadside there were fisherman selling their catch of bonito, tuna, red snapper and other smaller fish. There was also houses along the road with people drying fish on the roof.

There were beautiful beaches through Mirissa and Welligama.  There were fisherman sitting on stilts stuck in the sand, fishing with long poles. My mom wanted to take a picture so we got out and this guy came running out of the bushes and asked for money for the pictures. We refused, and as we were driving away, we noticed the whole thing was staged, there wasn’t even line on the poles. What a shame.

We arrived in Unawatuna, and checked into the Paradise Garden. We had a family room for four nights, at $50 a night with breakfast included. What an awesome deal we are back on our budget again as we spoiled ourselves at the villa. After we settled in we went to the beach for lunch and had English style fish and chips, and burgers, a nice change after three weeks of local foods. While we were eating it started to rain and my dad told us that there would be thunderstorms and rain for the next five days.

When we got back to Paradise gardens, we settled in. After a while it started pouring rain so we went outside and my mom ran in the rain and she said for us to join her, but my sister and I said no! Then my dad grabbed Tyla and I, but Tyla squirmed away. My dad pulled me into the rain and the three of us danced around and laughed. I have never seen it rain this hard!

 

MARCH 28TH, 2015- THUNDER STORM
By: Tyla

I have to say, I’m enjoying this town very much. There is plenty of things to do, it’s not that touristy, but in a few years it will be. We had eaten at “Kokos on the beach” yesterday, and decided to go again, as we wanted to try different foods. Everyone ordered burgers, and yet again it was delicious. There was a good portion of food, but it was a little pricey.

After eating we enjoyed a peaceful walk on the beach, looking for a nice place to enjoy the sun and have a refreshing dip in the water. While swimming, I had noticed huge thunderheads and rain coming our way. We had decided to stay, even as rain pounded on the water. The winds were strong, and the seas were high, so we decided it’s time to go. By the time we had arrived back, the winds had picked up, while huge lighting bolts and loud thunder claps erupted throughout the sky. Wasn’t expecting this kind of weather! We would wake up every day to sunny skies, but by 3pm, the clouds started rolling in.

We relaxed watching the rain die down, and went on a short but enjoyable walk to search for a different and fancier place to eat. We found a restaurant called Flower garden, it looked nice, and was very well presented. We took a seat and ordered drinks and dinner. Wow, this is probably the nicest dinner we’ve had in Sri Lanka, another great tip from TripAdvisor. Everything was delicious and cooked perfectly. I definitely recommend this if your ever traveling through Unawatuna.

 

MARCH 29TH, 2015- GALLE FORT
By: Mikayla

We were excited to get up early today because we were going to Galle Fort, a historical town in Sri Lanka. We had to get two tuk tuks because the designs were different then the ones in the Philippines. We bartered with two drivers and negotiated a price of $7 for both for the 15 minute trip to the Fort.

On the way to Galle Fort we stopped at a place called Amovita botanical garden which was a rip off tourist trap scam that we were lured to by the drivers. We got to taste and smell different plants and trees like cinnamon, lemongrass, mint, sandalwood, and a hair removal cream that was put on my dads leg, and left a nice six inch bald patch for everyone to see. He was so mad. In the end the guide brought us to a hidden store that had creams, lotions, and potions, all very expensive. We took one look at each other and said this was a scam and headed for the door giving the owner a $2 tip for his time.

We were back on the road again driving to Galle Fort. This area is known as the best kept colonial town in Sir Lanka. The streets are lined with old churches and Dutch colonial villages and it really gave you a feel of what it was like during the early days.

Some buildings in the fort have been renovated into hotels, private villas, and restaurants. The main gate to the fort has an old arch that says 1697 and has the coat of arms which shows two lions holding a crest, with a rooster on it. We’ve never seen anything this old before. There are huge rock walls covered in moss and grass growing everywhere around the colonial town. The walls had many points where cannons would have been placed and it was neat to see how the fort was designed to defend itself.

We went to a restaurant called a Minute by Tuk Tuk, and the view was incredible. We had appetizers and COLD drinks. When we finished eating we called Dinesh, our Tuk Tuk driver, and asked for him to pick us up. When we arrived at Paradise gardens everyone took showers, cooled off and relaxed.

When it was dinner time we went to Pink Elephant restaurant, it’s quite the cool place, more of a backpacker restaurant, and the food was delicious. What a hot historic day.

 

MARCH 30TH, 2015- Peace Pagoda and Jungle Beach
By: Tyla

The day started of with birds chirping and a beautiful sunrise. We had previously packed a backpack for the day trip to the ‘Japanese Peace Pagoda’ and ‘Jungle Beach’. We had walked at 10:00am to the small street out front, enjoying the morning breeze while waiting for our local tuk tuk driver. We arrived at our destination and hiked up a small hill reaching the gleaming white Peace Pagoda, which was made by Japanese Buddhists in 2004. I must say the view was beautiful looking out over the crisp blue sea and bright cloudless sky. We had walked around the the Pagoda, looking at gold statues of Buddha, and then carried on to look for our path to the beach.

Not too far away was a long dirt road that lead to Jungle Beach. It was an enjoyable walk through the jungle listening to the sound of waves crashing, while birds sang there daily songs. The beach was soft white sand, while the water a crisp dark blue. Right on the tiny beach was a restaurant with beach lounge chairs, a perfect place to spend an afternoon ! The water was refreshing and so were the drinks!

 
MARCH 31ST, 2015- TRAVEL TO HIKKADUWA
By: Mikayla

Today we had a drive to Hikkaduwa which was two hours away. We packed our things, had breakfast, and went to see if our van had arrived… but it hadn’t. Twenty minute later the driver showed up but had brought a really small car, and my dad said our luggage wasn’t going to fit in it. He kept insisting that it was going to work, but finally realized that the luggage didn’t fit. He then got two tuk tuks and said” we will take you in them,” and dad said no way! Are you kidding me. There we were standing on the side of the road with our luggage in the sweltering heat and dad finally took control. We asked the owner of Paradise gardens if he could hire us a van. So he phoned a driver and said he will be here in 10 minutes. After waiting half an hour a man came up to us and asked if we were the people who needed a van? We found out that the driver was waiting for us the whole time! Is this gonna be one of those days?

Finally at 11:30 we were on the road to Hikkaduwa.

When we arrived at New Paradise Jungle Resort and Spa we were all a little disappointed at how it looked. We settled in to the room that we didn’t even pick, but luckily it had air conditioning and a fan. Mine and Tyla’s room didn’t have a fan, it was hot, stinky and muggy, and it had a broken, chewed up window. The bathroom was disgusting, there was another broken window, the toilet was leaking, the sink was dirty, and the shower was broken. We had to make the best of it!

For lunch we went to J.L.H. Restaurant. The food was delicious and it was right on the beach.  The thunder heads rolled in as usual, the rain pounding the ground, and everyone running for cover.
We were going to stay four nights at the “so called resort” but we changed it to to one. My sister and I were going to sleep in my mom and dads room because our room was too hot and muggy. The staff took apart our wooden beds and replaced them in my parents room.

Back at the motel hell, we worked on the blogs, read and relaxed. We went to the same restaurant for dinner an

 
APRIL 1ST, 2015- ONWARDS TO COLOMBO
BY: Tyla

Well, I have to say, everyone was overjoyed to leave the last place, we all grabbed our bags and bolted to the van. The drive was nice and I loved staring out the window, looking at the bright blue sky, the different sights, and as always, the cars speeding by. We arrived at the Comfort at 15 Hotel right on the water, and were served fresh orange juice, and cold cloths to wipe our faces.

The rooms were huge, really nice, and overlooked the water. They had bar fridges, big bathrooms, huge beds, AC, and room to jump around. At around lunchtime my mom and I took a short walk to the street to take a Tuk Tuk to KFC, yay! Fast food!

Our three days here was largely spent catching up on our schoolwork and writing the blog. We feel real bad for being so behind, but it is really hard to do everything during the day, and then write about it every night. We are doing our best and will try to get them out more frequently.

 
Next Blog…..We ditch our dive gear and suitcases, don our small day packs, and hit the old rail system for a tour through the highlands of Sri Lanka. We are so excited!

 

 

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4 Comments
  1. John Reply
    Thanks for sharing the adventure. I wanted to go make my breakfast, but couldn't stop reading. Mikayla, I hope you continue expanding your diving experiences. Your mom and dad are very experienced and the last dive masters you were with sounded very professional. You all handled the previous incident well and are able to deal with unexpected situations. John
  2. Donna Reply
    That's pretty cool what an amazing adventure you guys are having glad to hear you are all safe hope to see you on the river fishing this year as we will have another jetboat. Bob and Donna
  3. Mochas love, Omi and Opa Reply
    Keep up the novel, V. proud of U.
  4. Chuck Johnson Reply
    Sounds like a great trip guys! Love the whale shark!!!

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