Sunday 3 December 2023

waikkal, Sri Lanka

 Flights: Emirates via Dubai

Hotel, Club Dolphin, Waikkal, all inclusive

We were given a beautiful bungalow within 50 paces of the main restaurant, bar and pool.

We were quickly moved to an identical bungalow 2 doors down after a wasps nest was found in the room.

We last visited the country in 1993.  When chatting to locals we learned that tourism is not yet recovered from the impact of covid.  We  were told the government covid vaccination program for the general public is not continuing.  The economy is fragile.

Outside the hotel the villagers were friendly, there is a bun man who sells bread from his tuktuk, video below.

We stayed all inclusive and ate mainly curry for all meals although there were European choices  too, this is  aubergine brinjal, corn and carrot rice, poppadoms

Below  lentil dahl, vegetable rice, poppadoms

Below, breakfast egg hopper

Our bed was given daily towel animals or flowers and  special birthday one for hubby! and the flower displays around the hotel changed daily too.

Lassi and salad lunch

The hotel hosted a classic car club annual event so we got to see some beautiful cars, my favourites were the morris minors, in the 70s they were top sellers in Sri Lanka, some Russian holidaymakers I befriended admired the fabulous green vw campervan in broken English (and also fed and shared their sun bed with one of many stray dogs). 

Aubergine curry, steamed veg, spicy rice

The hotel grounds were beautiful with tropical flowers and coconut trees right to the beach,  the sea had strong currents with no swimming/red flag which is not unusual at this time of year. 2 holidaymakers who ignored the red flag had to be pulled in on ropes as the current took them too far out.

There were giant bees with cartoon eyes 

We had some rain but plenty of sunbathing, and spectacular sunsets.

My kaftan was a last minute sale purchase from Monsoon UK.  Orange is my favourite colour.


Below are pics around and about Ngombo, which had a large fish market.

We visited the Ngombo fish market, by tuk tuk and then train.  We returned on the river in a small boat.


Evenings in the hotel are relaxing and quiet... 

Above : My shawl was bought on a previous trip to Darjeeling night market, wrap skirt is from Naked Generation  and top from Anokhi Delhi 2019.

There were stray dogs around the grounds. one slept on our doorstep every night and followed me everywhere  sleeping under my sunbed during  the day, i fed him but there are plenty more and they need vaccines and care.  We suggested the hotel have a donations box do tourists can contribute for their care.

Christmas decorations went up in the hotel on 1st December

It was a lovely holiday for total relaxation but now it's back to reality!

Sunday 19 January 2020


Update:  apologies, I don't often check this blog as since Covid arrived, travel has been on hold of course - so was surprised to find so many nice comments - thank you so much for leaving comments :)

On the way home from India, we stopped in Dubai for two nights, staying at the Sheraton on The Creek.   we had a good view of boats on the river and the City beyond.

Buying perfume oil in the Mall, on the recommendation of local ladies who were keen to give suggestion. I chose something floral.

In the shopping Mall, there is an aquarium, you can see lots from the outside, we didn't have time to go inside - we should have planned better!  Wearing my comfy Anokhi loose trousers purchased in Delhi.

 Water feature in the Mall, this has synchronised water jet display at certain times of the day, the water makes lovely fountain patterns in time with opera music, it's beautiful and attracts a huge crowd.

 Birds, display in the Dubai Mall shopping centre.

Lunch (vegetarian curry with bread and rice) at the Dubai Mall shopping Centre fast food floor.

There are lots of displays around The Mall like this lovely camel,it's really luxuriously designed.

We went to the gold souk at night, it's a large area of streets and alleys fully of gold jewellery shops like this one. If you go on to browse some of them will offer mint tea.  There is no pressure to buy, and it's the best place to buy as the gold is sold by weight, there is room for a little discount if you bargain.

We used the Dubai metro to get around, it's very modern, efficient and easy to use.

We ate at a café close to our hotel in the evening, this was falafel in a bread roll with salad.

This was a nice break on the long journey home, the hotel had a small pool with sun deck so we spent time either exploring the shopping or resting around the pool until it was time to go home.

Monday 6 January 2020

Agra, Jaipur

We used tuk-tuks frequently during our travels, they were the most affordable means of transport although not many are as glamorous as this one, being used for a wedding.  The fumes/dust are unpleasant and they don't feel very safe, although the drivers are expert - it can be hair raising when traffic comes at you on the wrong side of the road (frequent occurrence) or cows walk in front of you!  On some roads the traffic was so thick and somewhat unsafe we were unable to cross on foot, when we did we learned to keep moving and traffic somehow drives around you.  If you stop, you will interrupt the flow over everyone!

The main event on our travels in India was to see the Taj Mahal.

This beautiful building/masoleum was built by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan to hold the tomb of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal who was his favourite and mother of 14 children.  His tomb is also there.

We learned that the real tomb where the Shah and his wife have been laid to rest  is actually in a crypt  below the ground floor level and not accessible; what we see as tourists is actually a replica tomb.

We needed a guide as there is so much detail and beauty here to appreciate, every surface is inlaid and decorated (inside and out) with semi precious stones).  We learned that the inscriptions above were carved larger at the top than at the bottom so that it would appear the same size right to the top  when viewed from ground level.

We visited the Pink City, Jaipur. The city was painted pink in honour of a visit from Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, it is the colour of hospitality.  There were a lot of stalls along the roadsides selling printing blocks, this region is known for its beautiful hand block printed cotton (as in the skirt I was wearing at the Taj Mahal!).

Below is the spectactular Palace of the Wind

The buildings are made of the most beautiful red sandstone.  It makes a huge impact as you enter the city and, of course, the Hawa Mahal, Palace of the Winds (above) is astounding.  I think it's the most amazingly clever building I have ever seen.  It was designed so that the ladies of the palace could observe everyday life from the secrecy of the many intricate windows, without fear of being seen themselves.  The design also ensured the building was very cool and comfortable.

The ladies could also look into a courtyard garden and markets were held there so they could buy trinkets and fabrics from hawkers without being seen.

Below is the Amber Fort, the mother of pearl and mirror work inlaid to the walls of this beautiful building is another sight that is somewhat overwhelming, it is just beautiful beyond words.

Wearing Anokhi block printed wrap top and patchwork skirt (both preloved EBay) quite a
few of the clothes I found on eBay and charity shopping and squirreled away for this trip, were actually made in India! We had a 15kg luggage allowance so everything in my case got a lot use!

Tourists are discouraged from the riding the elephants here, a practice the Government is
now trying to phase out.  These elephants are well cared for but we chose not to ride them.

Jaipur is becoming a dry state, we found it difficult to buy alcohol.  Not everyone would mind, but we looked forward to a cold beer or a rum and coke at the end of the day.  Some backpacker hostels will get it for you from the Government run shops if you ask the day before, and a few 3 star motels have beer.  The main hotels will sell alcohol at very high prices.  Staff in our hotel were willing to go to the Government shop for us (there's usually limited opening hours and long queues of Indian men!) but luckily we had bought rum at Delhi airport and hung on to it so didn't miss out.  We also found a hostel that had chilled beer and gave us free freshly cooked poppadoms, which they ran across the road to get for us!  We always negotiated what we were paying for our beers throughout our trip,  before sitting down, and always paid for the first one up front to ensure no misunderstanding,  you can usually negotiate well down to half the hotel prices if you bargain, the place is not busy and they want you to stay.  A friendly conversation, rather than a hard haggle.

The rest of my pictures are randomly taken around our travels through India, where many modes of transport were seen - we didn't try them all!

camels seen coming in to Jaipur
elderly couple, Delhi

Rickshaw drivers, Delhi

and random things of interest, especially food!

snake charmer, Jaipur

I got very close to this charmer but later a guide told me he had once seen a snake leap from the basket, I will be more careful next time!

I am making a short video which I will post a link to soon.