Koh Tao

So I am jumping back a little here, we have now been home for close to two months (and I have not even posted 1/4 of the posts of our travel that I should have by now) and yes I have been a little slack in the posting department but this is all due to good cause. We have built a vegetable garden (not just any vege garden, it’s a pretty neat one, it looks great thanks to Daves amazing building skills and my staining skills) and been getting our home to be just the way we like it. So that’s my excuse anyway 😉

Back to the story at hand, I am taking you back to Thailand, Kho Tao to be exact, where we had a really nice 8 days of unwinding, swimming, reading, eating, drinking and exploring. We stayed at a great little place called Samatha Bed and Breakfast which was newly built and a nice place to retreat to during the peak heat of the day and at the end of an evening out.

Lucky Seafood….

I really like this photo for some particular reason. We ate at this little place several times, their Thai Green Curry and Red Curry were to die for and the cheapest we found anywhere on the Island.

Help your self to a seat at the table!

Time for an afternoon caffeine fix!

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Tea Plantations of Sri Lanka

After our night in Kandy we were back in the car and on the road again heading to Ella. The car ride was great, the scenery was amazing, the day was misty and the tea plantations all looked a vibrant green colour. As per normal being on the road was a little scary, buses passing buses on steep tight corners with nothing but sheer cliff face on one side of the road.

After almost two hours into the drive our driver stopped at what looked like a rickety old shack and said we were going for a cup of tea as it would still be another hour before we would be arriving at the Tea Factory for a little look around. Out of the car we got and sat down in the dive of a shack.

Served with a nice hot cup of sweet tea were these little Rotti served with the BEST hot sauce I have ever had! As I spooned a generous amount onto my Rotti, Chris our driver looked horrified and warned that it was very very hot and I would not be able to handle it… Ah why do people in foreign countries always think that the little white girl won’t be able to handle the spice! I couldn’t get enough of the stuff meanwhile Chris was in a world of discomfort having only put a small amount on his piece of Rotti. As for Dave, he too was able to handle the spice more than our driver. Such an unassuming place to stop but we were very happy to have stopped there as we were pleasantly surprised with the food and the very kind man who served such good Rotti!

Back on the road, we soon arrived at the Tea Factory for a tour around and a cup of tea!

After a cup of tea we were on our way again, next destination Nuwara Eliya situated at 1,868m above sea level.

Some interesting markets to walk through… Fish this high above sea level, and at least four hours from the coast, no ice to be seen anyone and I’m pretty sure there is no such thing as refrigerated transport in Sri Lanka! So needless to say we bought no fish however we got some hot peanuts and they were pretty good!

Back in the car again and not too far from Ella where we had two days and two nights to explore. Train track walks (posted that one ahead of myself) climbing little Adams peak and meeting some great people.

Visiting some Elephants in their natural habitat… The Minneriya National Park

While in Sri Lanka we were lucky enough to be there for the ‘Gathering’ which is the name that they give to the Elephants that congregate on the edge of the Minneriya reservoir during the dry season in the Minneriya National Park. In the late afternoon the Elephants, which can be as many as 200 arrive around the waters edge for play time and bath time, but to mainly graze on the green grass that lies next to the reservoir.

After about a 15 minute drive on a dirt road through the Forrest of the park we came out onto the planes and before long we saw our first lot of elephants.

It was a great afternoon and it was so nice to see the elephants in their own environment, doing their own thing and not in captivity.

Hello Sri Lanka… Dambulla and the Mighty Sigiriya

We arrived into the Sri Lanka on an early morning flight, having spent most of the night in the Airport waiting for our flight we were pretty tired by the time our flight landed just before 7am. Visas issued, customs cleared and we were on our way into Sri Lanka. We had organized a driver/guide for the first part of our trip, which was a good plan as we didn’t have to worry about hectic public transport systems in our tired state. The car ride north to the cultural triangle included a Sri Lankan history lesson and stories from the times of war.

Arriving 3 hours later at our destination, our first stop was the ‘Golden Temple of Dambulla’ These caves sitting high on a rock out crop were originally carved during the Anuradhapura period (1st century BC to 993 AD) and added to over the centuries.

Welcoming us at the base of the rock, a large Golden Budda. Not yet accustomed to the Sri Lankan heat, the steep walk up the rock was a bit of shock to the system but well worth the effort.Legend claims the above tree was planted by Budda himself.

After an hour up the rock, we made our way back down avoiding thieving monkeys keen to get their hands on anything not firmly in your grasp.  Arriving back at the car park again, I soon found out that its best to use toilets in hotels only. Grim !

Next stop – Sigiriya.

‘Sigiriya’ or ‘Lions Rock’. On top sit the ruins of an ancient fortress and a Buddhist temple. The rock itself is the solidified crater plug of ancient volcano, the surroundings have eroded away with time leaving only the rock out crop.

Half way up the rock small frescoes hold ancient paintings, still in good condition.

The final climb begins at the ‘Lions Paws’. Before the stairways were put in place for tourists, access was by way of small hand holds on the rock face.

As we soon found out, the view from the top was again worth the haul.

Luckily for us the heat radiated off the large rock mass was balanced out by a strong breeze.

Back down the rock and we headed to our bed for the night, and to sample some Sri Lankan curry : )

Fun in the sun on Koh Nang-Yuan

So I am jumping the gun a little with this post! After our adventurous train ride up through the south of Thailand to Surathani we caught the Ferry across to Koh Phanang. Where we had a very relaxing time for 7 nights… Making a clean get away to Koh Tao a day before the chaos of the infamous Full Moon Party! Koh Tao is a pretty small Island itself but right next to it is an even smaller island Koh Nang-Yuan which is fantastic for a spot of snorkeling or diving. Unfortunately I was still getting over a cold so diving was not on the cards for us but snorkeling was all good! After a fifteen minute water taxi ride, we made it and our taxi driver would pick us up again at three. Service with a smile for only 400 Baht return!

Before being able to step foot on the Island we were asked to hand in our water bottles… It was refreshing to say the least, seeing no rubbish on the beach unlike in Koh Phanang and Koh Tao.

Before spending some time on the beach, we decided to climb one of the two peaks on the Island. I didn’t realise how unfit I was!

After our walk back down it was time for a well deserved fresh coconut shake, before hitting the beach for a spot of snorkeling and some sunbathing.

The water here was crystal clear as well as clean and there were plenty of fish all shapes and sizes to keep oneself occupied for hours! Up until we came here we had been really disappointed with the beaches on both Koh Phanang and Koh Tao. Maybe we were expecting too much I am not really sure, but I half imagined the two Islands to have waters like the Caribbean. This of course set me up for a big let down, and I realised I was expecting to much and that this is not the Caribbean! However on this little island the water was just as nice and the snorkeling was just as good.