Third month of our World Trip.
Thailand | Sri Lanka | India
Our third month begun in Bangkok, Thailand. After a very long journey across the border from Cambodia and after warding off our first serious attempted scam, we found ourselves in the centre of the city across from the infamous Khao San road. Fortunately our hotel was far enough away to avoid the seedy side but close enough to allow us access to the markets, shops and restaurants with ease.
The road from the Cambodia-Thai border was the best road we had travelled on since Beijing, in early February. Motorbike riders had helmets, there were traffic lights and low and behold, traffic was stopped at them. Roadside guards with rifles are common place and something very new to us but after one no fuss stop we moved on. The traffic in Bangkok is as busy as anywhere we have visited but with one welcome difference, they stop at pedestrian crossings.
On the quiet end of Rambuttri Street, we stayed in a large courtyard hotel with a pool on the roof and the best buffet breakfast we have enjoyed since Sydney. Immediately outside our courtyard we were treated to ample choice of restaurants and pop up bars that kept us fuelled and entertained during our short visit. As we did not have any plans in Bangkok, other than to rest, we knew we would be able to see Khao San road and thought we could merely tour the city and eat some nice food.
Our attempt at a city tour begun with a tuk tuk driver who immediately pushed us to do extra activities. When we told him we had little money and time he dropped us at a lying Buddha temple, never to be seen again. A bit perplexed but not out of pocket we gave up on the city tour and went back to our local area to search for the best river tour deal. We were sure the boat couldn’t just leave us. The boat tour was interesting but only a slight glimpse into the unique Thai canal lifestyle.
Next stop was Sri Lanka, a beach side location that was our second scheduled long stay and we couldn’t wait to get there.
After travelling for 15 hours door to door, ending the day after we set off, we arrived in Unawatuna, two hours south of Colombo, to a small but well established tourist town. We stayed at the end of the kilometre long winding road that is lined with guest houses, hotels, tourist shops, travel agents, corner stores, cooking classes, restaurants and bars. It had everything you needed except for an ATM or bottle shop. The beach is lined with outdoor lounges, tables and chairs in front of the many restaurants and has two jet ski and water sport businesses, one situated at each end of the beach.
People in this part of the world are friendly without being over the top, ambitious but not pushy, genuine, honest and hard working. Conversations aplenty with many people inquisitive but not intrusive and generous in giving personal information and insights into life in Sri Lanka.
The next three weeks were spent swimming at the beach, eating roti and a wickedly hot signature curry and getting to know the locals and vice versa. This was a welcome break from the travel but the heat was unforgiving. We were told many times that ‘April is the hottest month in Sri Lanka’ and as March moved in April we all got sunburned at one point during our stay. In the final week we were treated to the best light and sound show as the monsoon weather started early. Fortunately, the rain eased the heat and the mosquitoes.
The last few days in Sri Lanka revealed a different side to the country as we moved North of Colombo to Negombo to be closer to the airport for our exit. The people on the beach were more persistent, the beach was large but very dirty and the street dogs were pesterers, with one following us along the street all the way back to our hotel, scaring us all.
We were all sad to leave Sri Lanka but excited about heading to India. We made friends of other guests at our accommodation, some local business owners and our tuk tuk driver in Unawatuna, Dinesh. All of whom made us smile and shared their lives with us for a short time.
Landing in India in Thiruvananthapuram (or the British termed Trivandrum) the capital in the Southern District of Kerala, introduced a new level of heat to our Asian tour. The temperature was soaring over 35 degrees as we left the airport at 9 am. We were glad to arrive at our four star hotel, situated between Shanghumugham beach and the airport, as it had a pool, large rooms and a sprawling restaurant. The next three days were spent lounging in the rooms, watching television (first tv since Bangkok over three weeks ago) and using slightly better wifi.
Our first impression of India was summed up beautifully by our 8 year old. She said, ‘this is like every other place we have been to in one place’. She was so right, the same tuk tuks as Sri Lanka, it has rubbish similarly strewn along streets like Cambodia, the maniacal no helmet wearing motorbike riders like Vietnam, the heat has soared past anything in Sri Lanka, Bangkok and Cambodia and the population of India is not far behind that of China.
Her insight and maybe the fact that we are in the final weeks of the first of three legs in our year long journey, makes us reflect on what our children are learning about the world and how much we are learning about them. Their wisdom and interpretation of situations adds to the experiences that we have so far enjoyed. Their unwavering commitment, whether that be throwing themselves into hours of independent study, trying exotic cuisine or entering dodgy market lanes, with complete faith that their parents have them covered, makes us immensely proud. The growth we are witnessing is at times concentrated due to our 24/7 lifestyle but we would never be able to enjoy it in any other circumstances if we had not set out on this adventure.
A few curry’s to go and then Europe here we come.