Clocks, Popes and some smelly blokes!

We left Berlin on the morning of a public transport strike. This was announced only 2 days prior and we discovered it by chance and it was challenging trying to work out what was running and what wasn’t – god bless the U-Bahn!

We’ve been using Flixbus to travel around, we plotted out the initial three weeks so we were able to book these in advance for a good price. So far we’ve found them reliable, comfortable and the toilets haven’t been too questionable. We arrived into Prague mid-afternoon and we had booked an apartment outside the city centre but with good transport links so after a freshen up and costume change we headed onto a tram and into the main centre for our first explore. We were a little bit overwhelmed to be honest when we got back into the centre as the first thing we heard and saw was a bunch of very loud drunk British men on a stag do and it was very crowded. We arrived on a Friday afternoon which probably had something to do with it but we definitely needed to sit down with a Czech beer and mentally prepare ourselves!

Prague is a very pretty City with little cobbled streets and a very picturesque square that hosts the famous astronomical clock. We spent some time roaming around before figuring out the tram system and heading back to our apartment.

The next morning we got up really early and headed to catch a train back to the centre. We wanted to really explore the castle, the Charles Bridge and square before it got too busy. As it happened we arrived in the square just before 7am and there was a small crowd gathered round the clock waiting for the infamous chimes. If you don’t know then on the hour the twelve apostles appear through the wooden doors to a musical tune while a skeleton omnimously chimes a bell. We decided to stay and watch as you can’t not watch this when in Prague. Only the bell only produces this musical display between 9am and 11pm so there were quite a few disappointed people around! We really need to more research! We did make it back later in the day to watch it though and to be honest it was a little underwhelming.

We then headed to to the Charles bridge which even at 7am was busy with people trying to get an Instagram shot, it was very amusing to watch – there definitely were some very patient photographers on the bridge.

We headed to the castle and spent a couple of hours wondering around the grounds before we headed back to our apartment. As I mentioned we were staying a bit outside the centre but looking at the map there looked to be a park close by and the weather was finally sunny and 20 degrees so it was time to finally peel off the leggings and put some shorts on and head to the park for a spot of outdoor relaxing. Only what looked on the map to be park actually turned out to be beautiful countryside- an absolutely delightful surprise!

From Prague we were headed to Olomouc, in my research Olomouc was described as being much like Prague but without the tourists- this definitely sounded like our kind of place! We had to change buses in a place called Brno (pronounced Bruno), another place that I’d read about and sounded interesting so I suggested that we spend a few hours exploring and seeing some of the places I’d read about. Brno also has an astronomical clock, but it’s VERY different to the one in Prague. It is shaped like a large bullet (allegedly, but I’ll let you decide) and at 11am each day people gather round with their hands in various holes and try and grab a large marble that’s fired each day at that time. It’s unusual for 11am to be the time for this activity to happen, but it happens at this time thanks to an event during the Thirty Years War. During this time the city of Brno was under siege by the Swedes and a Swedish general promised to lift the siege if the city did not fall by noon, so the locals played a trick and changed the clocks to 11am meaning that the Swedes surrendered. A local girl caught the marble and promptly shoved it her mouth, which made us quickly back away lest she accidentally swallowed it and I was forced to use my ‘resus training for non clinical staff’ course that I’d completed at work!

There were two other things that we were interested in Brno, one was the labyrinth under the cabbage market, but being a Monday it was shut. Again our research failed us. The other was the Capuchin crypt which holds perfectly mummified remains consisting mainly of friars. Some of the remains are on display and it’s very tastefully displayed.

We then headed to Olomouc which was indeed as pretty as described without the crowds. We’ve been using the app GPS my city to do self guided walks around each place that we’ve been to but Olomouc didn’t have one, I had picked up a map from the hostel which had 30 places of interest marked on them and we did our own walk, and boy did we walk! We walked over 37,000 steps that day visiting churches, climbing their towers and seeing lots of fountains which seemed to form the crux of most of Olomouc’s sights. Olomouc also has an astronomical clock and this one did not disappoint – it chimes for a full five minutes and was utterly delightful. Olomouc is a beautiful city and the highlight was finding a little park with a rose garden where we sat for around an hour in the sun drinking some beer we’d picked up. One major motivation for doing so many steps was that we didn’t want to go back to our hostel! Yep, we had our first horror accommodation experience. On paper, and even in reality it looked to be a decent hostel, but as always, I was sharing with a bunch of men and these men smelt like they’d not seen a bar of soap for a while. We’ve stayed in dorms in South America, South East Asia and India and NEVER have we stayed anywhere that smelt as bad as this place. I was gagging everytime I went back into the room and it really made me question if I ever wanted to stay in a dorm again.

Other than the hostel we loved Olomouc but we were so happy to arrive in Krakow knowing that we had a little studio apartment booked. Krakow was again absolutely stunning city, the square was probably the best one we’ve seen- it was so spacious and utterly charming. We spent some time exploring the Jewish quarter and learning more about some of the horrors that took place there. We walked a lot that day, another 27,000 steps – over three days we walked 90,000 steps and my feet were throbbing and the only solution was to sit them in a saucepan and let them soak- its all glamour!

The next day it was time to do probably the hardest thing that we will do on this trip, and that was to visit Auschwitz. I found the whole experience very moving, walking the same path that hundreds of thousands of people had walked to their deaths. The whole thing was done in a very respectful manner but Joey and I both agreed that the thing that moved us the most was the huge pile of hair that had been shaved from victims. It’s important to do this type of thing to remember and try and stop these things happening again. However as our guide said, these things have happened since and are happening now, only a couple of hundred kilometres from where Auschwitz is in Ukraine. I find that very difficult to swallow.

After Krakow we definitely needed something to cheer us up and we headed to Budapest for a couple of days. We’ve been to Budapest before and had planned this stop to be a rest point after three weeks of being constantly on the move and planned to do nothing other than go to a ruin pub and the thermal baths. Only the day before we arrived in Budapest we found out that The Pope was also in town. If you don’t know my maiden name was Pope and Joey’s catholic, so when I turned to him, gave him a look and said ‘the Pope’s in Budapest the same time as us’ there was only one response ‘we should go see him’!

So our weekend of taking it easy actually meant getting up at 6am with a hangover after drinking more aperol spritz than I had intended, and heading to Mass. We queued for about 45 minutes to get through security and into the square. The square was more spacious than I thought it might be and we were actually in a good spot to see his convoy speed past (which we’d also managed to do from the balcony in our hostel!). We stayed for the first 30 minutes of mass which was in mainly Hungarian with a little bit of Latin thrown in. The first time we were in Budapest we accidentally saw the Brazilian president and his huge convoy and now we’ve seen the Pope here – we’ll definitely return and see who we can see the next time!

After this we headed off to the thermal baths for a few hours, making sure we visited every bath and we both agreed that we’d had one of the best days of the trip so far.

From now on we’re leaving the Schengen zone (although we do pop back briefly for a quick stop in Dubrovnik) which means hard border crossings- we’ve done a few land border crossings before so we’re excited to get back to these, sometimes they’re easy, sometimes they’re laborious and sometimes we do them whilst being really sick! Bring it on!

And we’re off!

There has to be some irony, or maybe completeness, when your last travels were cut short due to covid, and then 10 days before you’re due to leave for the next lot Joey gets struck down with it. It was a relief when I then caught it knowing that we stood a chance then of getting over it and getting back on the road.

Obligatory departure photo

We did get away as planned and caught the Eurostar to Bruges, arriving in the early evening, this gave us chance to acclimatise, get over the shock of seeing bunk beds (in our private room- what the heck?!) again and have an evening stroll. Bruges is such a pretty city, I must have used the word pretty about 50 times over our two days there. The cobbled streets and the buildings were just so quaint and the perfect place to just walk and admire the scenery.

We’ve become huge fans of getting up and hitting the streets early before any one else and most of the time it works. We can appreciate the true tranquility of a place before everyone else arrives to get their Instagram shot. Joey has coined a phrase ‘we shall have the morning and the fools can have the day’ and this is just how we started off in Bruges.

We shall have the morning and the fools shall have the day

After two days in Bruges we were ready to hit the next country. It was two short bus journeys to Luxembourg and we had a couple of spare hours in Brussels; plenty of time for a waffle and to check on our favourite pissing statue, Zinneke Pis. Brussels most famous statue of course is the Manneken Pis, but did you know there’s also a woman and a dog?!

Zinneke Pis

We arrived in Luxembourg City in the afternoon, if you didn’t know Luxembourg introduced free public transport in February 2020, which is a godsend for any backpacker! We headed to our hostel and our first dorm of this trip. In absolute classic Becca style I (allegedly) spent a good portion of the night snoring really loudly. I never do this anywhere else other than in dorms so personally I blame the altitude of the top bunk! Most people prefer bottom bunk but in India I got into the habit of bagging the top bunk when I would find myself sharing a dorm with Joey and 6 other men.

We had the next day to really explore the city and I wanted to go to the American military cemetery. Google maps suggested that we take a bus and then walk for about 20 minutes, it looked straight forward enough but Google maps basically set us off walking along the hard shoulder of a motorway with no pavement. It was pretty scary and something we did not want to repeat on the way back. I’m not sure what we were more scared of, getting run over or stopped by the police. The cemetery was absolutely worth it, it was beautifully kept and houses over 5000 graves. We arrived at the same time as three bus loads but they stayed a really short period of time and once they’d gone we had the place to ourselves. There is only one woman buried there, who died shortly after the war in a car accident on her way to be reunited with her sister in Paris. The information contained some deeply moving stories about some of those buried there. After 10am though there’s a shuttle bus back to the city which we hopped on rather than risking our lives again.

The road Google maps sent us down — it doesn’t look too bad here!
Luxembourg American Military Cemetery

We walked around the city again and again we were pleasantly surprised by what a pretty place it was. We would definitely recommend Luxembourg for a weekend break.

Luxembourg City

Next up was a short train ride over the border to Germany, we stopped in Trier which is Germany’s oldest city, the birthplace of Karl Marx and nestled in the Mosel wine region. Trier again was full of attractive buildings and so many Roman ruins, the Porta Nigra is definitely the most famous of these, but there’s also an amphitheatre and the largest Roman baths outside of Rome. All of these are surrounded by nearby vineyards that you can stroll through. In the town square there’s a wine stand open every day that you can buy glasses and bottles of local Riesling so of course we were happy to spend 6 euros on a couple of glasses to sample the local produce.

Roman Baths, Trier
Joey enjoying his Riesling at the wine stand in Trier

Monday was our first ‘homeless’ day. This is the term we use when we’re either catching some form of transport overnight or we’re arriving in somewhere really early and have nowhere to go. Some homeless days are better than others, we had a really challenging one in Hampi, India where we had 13.5 hours to kill. This time we were catching a bus at 10pm to Berlin and checked out of our Air BnB (boujee backpacker alert) at 10am so we set off on an adventure to the fairytale castle of Eltz. This involved a 90 minute train and then a 20 minute bus. The Germans, being as efficient as ever, had aligned these and it was straight off the train onto the bus. The castle dates from medieval times and is one of only a handful in Germany still intact. It’s set on top of a 70 metre high rock spur deep in the German forest. This, alongside its round turrets really add to its fairytale appearance. We took the English guided tour (just ask when the next one is) and then spent about 3 hours exploring the treasury and surrounding forest. We headed back to the station and had a wander round the wine village of Hazenport, a tiny place with nothing much other than some quintessential German churches and a wine bottle vending machine.

Eltz Burg
Eltz Burg
Eltz Burg

We had a couple of hours to kill when we arrived back in Trier so wandered the streets before doing what every homeless backpacker does – hang out in Burger King!

Porta Nigra by night

The night bus wasn’t too bad, we managed to bag two seats each so we could spread out a bit and actually get some sleep. We arrived into Berlin around 9am, left our bags and set off to explore the city, we walked around visiting all the famous sights including the Reichstag, the Bradenburg gate and Bebelplatz which was where, in May 1933, students burnt over 20,000 ‘un-German books’. Over the course of the next few days we also spent time exploring the Tiergarten, a beautiful park, the East side gallery, which is one of the longest remnants of the Berlin Wall, and the Topography of Terror. Berlin is a city that has gone through so many different things in very recent history and it’s sometimes a lot to digest and comprehend. We’re not ones to shy away from hard history though.

East Side Gallery
East Side Gallery
Brandenburg Gate
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

We were lucky enough to catch up with an old colleague of Joey’s in Berlin who was in town for work and contacted Joey a couple of days beforehand to see if we were heading that way and we were! It’s always lovely to see people while we are away so do hit us up if you think our paths might cross at any stage!

Meeting up with Karen in Berlin

Berlin was our last stop in what we’re defining as Western Europe so now it’s to the east – to Prague and beyond!


We get asked SO many questions whenever we tell people what we’re doing so we thought it would be fun to include a selection:

What are you doing about jobs? 

I am taking a career break, and am due back on 1 July 2024; Joey was working a Fixed Term Contract which is due to finish on 31st March, so will just look for another job when we get back. 

But you’ve just bought a house! What are you doing about that?

We’re letting it out – this will cover our mortgage and the majority of the storage costs. 

So what are you doing with all your belongings?

Some things will be stored at Joey’s parents. Some bulky furniture and kitchen stuff is being put into storage and we’re giving some bulky furniture to charity.

How much is this costing you and how are funding it? 

We’re planning on a budget of £50 each per day. Obviously some days we will spend less and some more. We have spent over 3 years saving for this trip – we were mortgage free for most of that time and we saved every penny we could. Our mortgage costs will be paid for by letting our house out.

How do you keep to your budget?

We use a travel budget app which we use to track all our expenses. We will cook ourselves where we can, choose reasonably priced accommodation, limit the alcohol we drink 😦 use public transport, taking overnight options where we can and they don’t arrive at 3am. We try and eat and travel like a local so we don’t eat out in swanky restaurants or every night. We’re happy to eat on the street and flag local buses down. We will walk for 30 minutes plus in 30 degree heat with our backpacks on rather than pay £2 for a tuk tuk!

How are you travelling around? 

The majority of time will be overland and we want to travel as much as we can overland using public transport but we will take flights where necessary.

What happens if you need to come home? 

Then we will come home! See Covid 2020 for an example of this 🙂

How much luggage are you taking with you? 

I’m taking a 40 litre bag and Joey has 60 litres. This is all we have! We’re taking enough clothes for 5/6 days. Other countries have washing machines so we will use them or do hand washing. 

Are you taking disposable underwear? 


NO. As above – washing machines are not exclusive to the UK. 

What happens if it’s cold where you are? 

Layers are your friend – a pair of leggings under a pair of trousers will be fine and I’m taking a shirt. We’ll be fine. They also have shops abroad. 

Are you staying in hostels?

Yes- hostels will be part of our accommodation options. Even dorms! We’ll stay in a mix of hostels (some private rooms, some dorms), guesthouses, apartments, air bnbs, hotels etc. We’ll aim to get the most for our money but we’ll not stay in complete dives (hopefully). 

How do you decide where you’re going?

We read a lot of travel books, watch vlogs, read blogs but our main source of information is probably Lonely Planet! Once we’re away we’ll talk to people and find out about places along the way. We generally have an idea of a rough route but often change as we’re going along. 

Where are you flying to first? 

We’re not flying! At the moment we don’t have any flights booked. We’re catching the Eurostar and our first stop is Bruges. 

Are you working whilst you’re away?

No. We want to enjoy the experience as much as we can. Our work will be this blog 🙂

How will you keep connected? 

Back in the dark ages of 2014 we solely relied on wifi and books. These days it’s very easy to pick up local SIM cards very cheaply, for example a month’s SIM card with unlimited data in Thailand costs less than £10. 

What about Christmas?! 

We actually have our plans for Christmas sorted! Joey’s birthday is 2 days before Christmas and we usually end up travelling on his birthday. Not this time though! We will be in Thailand, on our favourite beach. We have booked 10 days there and all being well Joey’s parents will be there and his brother and family will also join us for a few days. 

Do you have any questions for us? Stick them in the comments below!

Voyage 3.0 – the prelude

We have just over 3 weeks to go so time for an update!

For those new here we are Joey and Becca, we have been together for nine years and married for five years. Very shortly after we met (four months) we were on a plane to Buenos Aires and travelling around South America for 5 months, before we headed to South East Asia for three months. That started our love of long term travel and three and half years ago we set off for India for the start of what we had planned to be a 18 month trip. We managed six months and covered two countries (India and Sri Lanka) before we had to fly back thanks to Covid! This means that we’ve pretty much spent the last three years talking about and planning for when we could go again.

Mock pack – we are so ready for this!

So what’s the plan?

We’re starting in Europe, catching a Eurostar to Bruges, and we’re planning to canter (rather than meander) through Western Europe for the first three weeks until we reach the top of the Balkans. We’re planning on spending a bit of time meandering through the Balkans and into Turkey and onwards to Georgia and Armenia, maybe Azerbaijan if the land border’s open. Then it’s into the the Stans (Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan before catching a flight to somewhere in South East Asia. We’ll spend a few months hopping round South East Asia with the plan being to make it to Central America and down to a bit of South America,

When we were away in India we came up with the idea of visiting 40 countries before we were 40, Covid stopped that and the new plan is 44 before we are 44 – we should make this easily but subscribe below to find out how it’s going!

99 Days to go

We’re back! We kind of left you hanging when we left India in a hurry at the start of the pandemic. At the time we hoped we’d only be back for 3 months, and yet here we are, almost 3 years later making the commitment to travel long term again. 

So here it is, we’re putting it out there – in 99 days time we will be hitting the road again for what we’re hoping and planning will be our longest travels yet. Before we tell you more of that, let’s take a step back. 

We raced back from India, leaving our last destination of Khajuraho on 16th March, we took an overnight train back to Delhi where we were due to arrive in at 5.25am and at 5am we booked a flight back to the UK leaving at 9am that day so we had a dash to the airport! We grabbed the first taxi driver we saw and made it clear that we were in a hurry so we piled the bags into the cab, hopped in and were ready to yell ‘go go go’ like we were in Race Across the World. Only the driver was outside, casually taking his time blessing his taxi. We’d spent 4 months in India and this was first time we’d seen this happen and we definitely could have done without it then!

We’d rented our flat out so Joey’s parents kindly took us in! Eventually it became clear that we weren’t going anywhere anytime soon, so we got jobs and saved saved saved. We also sold the flat and bought a bungalow! 

I think every single day since we got back we have talked about when we would go travelling again and where we would go. At one point we thought about leaving in September last year but decided with what we wanted to do it might be better to wait til Spring, that and wanting to get through one more winter to make sure covid doesn’t do anything stupid… 

So what’s the plan? 

Well we have a ticket booked…. To Bruges! Our plan is to travel through Europe overland, to Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and through the Stans. After that (in an ideal world) we would continue overland through China but if that can’t happen then we’ll take a flight and continue overland through South East Asia. We’d also then love to do Central America and we have the funds to be away for at least a year. So yeah, in 99 days time if all is well we will be on the road again. 

99 days isn’t that long and we have a lot to do before then, there’s jobs to be done around the bungalow to get it ready to be let and lots of planning and preparation to do. We have fitness and health goals to aim for as well. We want to keep this blog up to date and to share some tips for preparing for long term travel so we will be working on this blog as well. We also have full time jobs so the next few months are going to be jam packed but let the fun begin!

Coming home

This is a hard blog to write as we’ve chosen to cut our travels short and come home.

You’d have to had to have been in a hole to not know that the WHO has declared the Coronavirus a Pandemic and with countries shutting their borders and others imposing quarterines on arrival we feel that now is the right time to head back to the UK, for the meanwhile at least. I suffer from an autoimmune condition so if I get the virus I want to be at home.

This morning we arrived in Khajuraho, which is actually the last Indian town that we wanted to visit. Our original plan had been to stay two nights and catch a train back to Varanasi and cross the border into Nepal on Wednesday. Friday morning we woke to the news that Nepal were no longer issuing visas on arrival and imposed various conditions.

So we could still go to Nepal if:

  1. we got a visa beforehand
  2. We flew into Kathmandu
  3. We submitted a medical certificate declaring us free of Coronavirus
  4. We self quarantined for 14 days.

We had a flight booked out on 16th April and had intended to get a 30 day visa so we didn’t much fancy spending half of our time in quarantine. Or incurring the extra costs of a flight.

We ummed and ahhed a lot about what to do. We considered flying to Thailand but with everything so up in the air and the situation changing hourly we made the difficult decision to fly home.

It had always been our intention to fly home for a bit in the summer anyway, so we’re just coming home a little bit sooner than planned. Once things have calmed down and travel restrictions are lifted we will be off again to continue our adventure.

It’s obviously disappointing to not be able to carry on at present, particularly as I had been looking forward to going to Nepal and seeing some places that my dad had visited. It’s not over yet though and we will make the most of our time in the UK.

So instead we’re being positive and there are loads of things I’m looking forward to:

Catching up with friends and family and seeing babies who’ve grown in the last 6 monthsCelebrating my best friend’s 40th with her in personEating cheese Drinking wine Camping Flushing my toilet roll down the toilet! Washing my clothes in a machine
We’ve an overnight train booked to Delhi and whilst we are on that train we will book a flight and hopefully head straight to the airport. So we may be back as early as Tuesday! In the meantime, keep washing those hands!

A rabies scare and some yoga

Sri Lanka has two main seasons; the south west monsoon between May and November, and the North East between December and March. This means that you can always find somewhere with decent weather no matter the time of year. Bearing this in mind we still decided headed to Uppuvelli, just north of Trincomalee on the east coast. It was off season so a lot of restaurants and hotels weren’t yet open and the sea was too rough for anything more than a quick paddle. We were fortunate with the weather though and only really experienced one evening of very torrential rain. Looking out of the window it looked like a hurricane report from the BBC, it was pouring heavily with rain and palm trees were barely holding up against the wind.

Sunrise in Uppuvelli

We planned to chill here for a few days doing nothing more than catching some rays and relaxing. We set off just before sunrise on our first morning for a run along the beach. We haven’t really done much running since we’ve been away due to a lack of pavements and the packs of dogs which roam the streets. We’ve stuck to beaches to avoid these dogs so it was typical that morning to run into a particularly playful, boisterous dog. He kept jumping up at us and Joey was kind / brave enough to let me run on whilst he tried to distract said playful pup. Unfortunately the doggy got a little bit too excited and ended up scratching Joey. So off we headed to hospital to get a rabies jab! We were sensible and we did get all our jabs before we went away, but the rabies jab just buys you a little more time and means you only need a few post exposure jabs.

We arrived at the hospital and joined the very efficient queue. This queue was made up of rows of chairs with everyone moving one chair along as the queue moves. After a very short wait Joey got pulled out of the queue by the security guard who asked him for his passport and then quickly returned with a queue jumping number. She then ushered him to the doctors room for assessment. The doctor ummed and ahhed a bit then wrote out a card with his jab schedule on it and sent us to the drug store with a nurse. We got the price, then were accommpanied to accounts to pay and finally to the injection room. All in all it took less than hour. Two things really stood out for me and they were that white privilege is real. The amount of queue jumping that we did was insane and embarrassing and then there was the lack of patient confidentiality. People were being consulted in the same room as Joey and I was pulling faces at an old man whilst he was being injected. Not to mention everyone peeking round the curtain to get a glimpse of the white people!

Joey waiting for rabies jab number 1

The only other thing of note we did in Trincomalee was to visit their War Cemetery. It’s maintained on behalf of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and is a beautiful peaceful place to visit. The gravestones are all equal shape and size and separated by bushes.

Trincomalee War Cemetery

After our chill time we headed north to Jaffna. Jaffna was out of bounds thanks to the civil war until little over 10 years ago and even Sri Lankan’s we have met along the way say they have never been. It was certainly different to the rest of the country – grittier and definitely more like India! Even the bus ride there involved an army roadblock. Everyone piled off the bus, we were told to stay in our seats whilst everyone else had ID and luggage checked. A soldier boarded our bus, searched it and checked our passports and before we knew it we were on our way again.

We started our city explorations at the Fort which we had pretty much to ourselves. The fort is a few centuries old and is Portuguese/Dutch origin. The literature we were given was poorly translated and wasn’t really clear on a lot of things but still better than my Tamil and Sinhalese. Then we wandered to the Clock Tower and the library. The library was destroyed in the 1980s by (some say pro government) forces but was the first thing to be rebuilt when the war ended. We took a stroll to the railway station and booked ourselves on the express train out of Jaffna the next morning to Colombo where we’d then head north to Negombo, a beach resort.

Public library Jaffna

The train took 7 and half hours, far and away the longest journey we’ve had in Sri Lanka, but a blink of an eye compared to some Indian journeys. Everyone started to gather their belongings up and I took a quick glance at google maps, we were definitely almost at Colombo Fort station. So we piled out the train with everyone else. I pulled my phone out again and started looking at where we needed to go to catch our bus and it looked a bit more complicated than when I’d previously looked. I took a moment to glance at my surroundings and realised that we’d got off the train a stop too early. For a brief moment I considered not telling Joey and seeing if he’d notice the extra long walk to the bus station. Maybe I could just style this mistake out? I’d had almost 40 years of styling out my mistakes, I’m sure I could do something with this. Maybe if I said it really quickly Joey wouldn’t notice?! In the end I did confess and suggested that as it was really hot maybe we should just take a tuk tuk to the bus station? Thankfully he agreed and we didn’t get divorced. Mistake styled out.

We had a nice couple of chilled days in Negombo lying on the beach and playing in the sea. We also needed to get Joey’s third rabies jab done. Only two more to go!

We have spent the last 4 days at a yoga retreat just outside of Kandy. We thought we were signing up 4 days of being told what to do which to be honest, sounded bliss. We quite liked the idea of all decisions being taken out of our hands. We had to let the staff know an hour ahead of time when we wanted to take a shower so they could light a fire to heat the water. We thought they were joking until we actually saw the barrel of water being heated by a fire. Yoga itself is definitely harder than it looks. I’m not flexible at all and with all my joint problems I really struggled, maybe it gets easier the more you practice!

We did enjoy a cooking class and got to enjoy the fruits of a labour as well as a trek to a waterfall. We all had to participate in the cooking class, I got to play with grinding a coconut. Joey thought he had the easy job of deep frying the aubergine but he had to stand over the hot fryer for about an hour! At the waterfall there is a natural pool which is full of the fish that nibble your feet. So whilst everyone else was swimming I got to have a free pedicure! It is a very strange sensation as the fish latch onto you and I really can’t believe people pay for the privilege.

Joey supervising the frying of aubergine. Obviously with a beer
Becca getting her free fish pedicure

It’s hard to believe our two months here have now ended and tomorrow it’s back to India! The intention is to only spend a maximum of three weeks there. We know what we want to see so it will be a couple of weeks of focus and bashing out the sights!

Rocks, Ruins and Relics

The Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka is a must see on any traveller’s list so off we headed. This is made up of Kandy, Dambulla, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura. We had spent the previous day sleeping and recovering after climbing Adam’s Peak and we both woke in agony – putting one foot in front of the other for the next two days was so painful and I won’t even mentioned our attempts at stairs.

We struggled downhill from our hostel in Kandy to the Temple of the Tooth Relic. This tooth relic is reportedly the tooth of Buddha which was saved from his cremation and smuggled away in someone’s hair. A belief grew that whoever held the tooth had the right to rule the land so it has been the subject of some removal attempts and various resting places. The tooth nowadays is kept in a very elaborate gold casket, shaped like a pagoda and locked away apart from being displayed three times a day during puja. We went for the second viewing between 9.30am and 11am. It was such a scrum! There was a lot of pushing and shoving and people were acting very unBuddhist like to catch a glimpse of the casket. (There is another rumour that the casket itself does not hold the original tooth but instead a replica). All this and you don’t actually get to see the tooth in question! We then explored the temple complex which itself is quite interesting and contains lots of statues and various displays, including one with photos from when the temple was bombed during the civil war and subsequently rebuilt. By then it was approaching 11am so we decided to try and see the tooth again. As we were now at the end of Puja all the crowds had dispersed and we were lucky enough to get right in front of the casket without any pushing or shoving. So my tip would be go towards the end of Puja! Also within the temple complex is the World Buddhism Museum which was utterly fascinating. It has displays on Buddhism from various countries such as China, Malaysia and Myanmar, all on our itinerary, and as they are laid out next to each you can see the subtle differences in statues and temples from all over Asia and I’d like to say that we can tell now tell the difference between a Thai Buddha and a Sri Lankan one.

The casket containing Buddha’s Tooth. Look how much we had to zoom in to get this shot!

On our last day in Kandy we took it easy and went for a gentle walk around the lake and to the British Garrison cemetery. Some of my friends know we love a good cemetery and this was no exception. The caretaker showed us around and told us stories about the ways in which people had died. There were of course the usual tropical diseases but there was also someone who had been impaled on a stick and someone who died running away from an elephant. The story goes that he ran away from the elephant and died from sunstroke/ a heart attack. The caretaker counted this by saying that the moral of the story was that fat people can’t run. Very politically incorrect!

The cemetery definitely had a very British look and feel to it
Until you saw these guys

Kandy was definitely a lot busier and more hustling than any of the other places we’ve been to in Sri Lanka and leaving the city tested our patience. Even our hostel tried to scam us by overcharging us for our laundry (unlucky for them I wasn’t born yesterday), tuk tuk drivers wouldn’t leave us alone even though we were waiting at the long distance bus stop. Then when we finally got on a bus it smashed into the back of a tuk tuk. Luckily no one was injured but it did mean stopping the bus, calling the police and all of the passengers piled out of the bus to gather round while discussions were had between the two drivers. This delayed us for an hour and when we finally got moving again the driver actually seemed to drive faster and more crazily. I guess we’ve been lucky (?) that we’ve only been on two buses which have been involved in minor collisions – one in India and one in Sri Lanka – but I hope this doesn’t mean that we’re destined to be in a crash in every country!

We made it to Polonnaruwa eventually and early the next morning borrowed bikes from our guesthouse to explore the vast ancient ruins. Polonnaruwa was established as the capital city in the late 10th century and held that accolade for three centuries, enough time to build a royal palace, various temples and carve impressive Buddha statues from a single rock. All of these now lie in ruins but are important and impressive enough to have been declared a UNESCO world heritage site almost 40 years ago.

We wanted to get an early start to avoid the worst heat of the day and because we needed to travel onwards in the afternoon, but our first problem was finding the bloody ruins in the first place! We passed one vague sign pointing up the road to the ticket counter but it seemed that was where the signage ended. We eventually found it thanks to the help of a local going the other way. Polonnaruwa’s ruins are set out in five main groups and our guesthouse told us it would take around 5 hours to see them all. We started with the Royal Palace group – not that there was much left of the palace and what was left looked like two huge teeth!

The ruins of the Royal Palace. They look like teeth (not Buddha’s tooth though)

The next group was the Quadrangle and this seemed slightly more impressive with temples still holding strong. This is where we were first introduced to the concept of the Moonstone, not the precious stone, but instead a semi circular stone carved with fire, four animals (elephant, bull, lion and horse) swans and a lotus flower at the centre. Depending on what you read you get a different meaning but our understanding was that the flames represented desire, the animals the circle of life, death, decay (the bull bizarrely – such a strong animal) and disease, the swans are the distinction between good and bad and the lotus flower represents the attaining of nirvana. We saved the best group to last – the northern group. These contained the ruins of a temple with a huge headless Buddha statue but also large statues of a sitting Buddha, a standing Buddha and a reclining Buddha, all carved from the same piece of rock. The detail was breathtaking and you could see the use of the natural marbling in the stone. From here we decided we’d had enough and we didn’t have the energy to venture to the other smaller groups, entry to those was also free so we figured they may not be as impressive as what we had just seen so best to finish on a high!

Reclining and standing Buddha carved from the same rock
Headless Buddha in Polonnaruwa

We cycled back to the guesthouse where the mum of the guy who ran the place insisted on getting a photo with me. I was standing my safe distance away from her so as to avoid a repeat of the nit incidence from Rajasthan when she grabbed my head (almost in a headlock) and forced me to rub heads together. I’ve had the nit comb out a few times since just checking!

We had to take two buses to reach Sigiriya, the jewel of Sri Lanka, probably the most famous sight of the country, which towers over the town. We got up early to ensure that we did our climbing before it got too hot or too busy and it paid off. We started climbing the steps and there was hardly anyone in front of us. It seemed though that we couldn’t get enough of stairs at the moment, I’m not sure how many steps Sigiriya has but I’d read various figures between 750-1000. Luckily there are a few attractions on the way so you can take a breath. The first is a small section of frescos featuring lots of topless ladies! These were very colourful and just above these sits the mirror wall. The mirror wall is actually a strip of wall highly polished and we could kind of see a reflection from it although now it’s covered in graffiti from olden days.

The most famous sight in Sri Lanka

Then it’s up to the famous part – the lion’s paws. They are incredibly impressive, very large and definitely leave you wondering what happened to the rest of the lion. Then it’s on up an iron staircase to the summit. This staircase felt very rickety and I was definitely struck by a bit of vertigo going up and no one seemed particularly comfortable doing this part. We reached the top and were greeted by the foundations of an old palace. You don’t really get to appreciate the scale of these ruins until you go to the museum at the bottom and view the aerial photos – it was astonishing and left us with more questions than answers. How did they scale the rock in the first place, never mind carry the material required to the top to construct the palace. It was certainly a prime location though – you could see any attacks a mile off. We headed down and spent some time by the Lion’s Paws watching some very naughty monkeys! I took some great action shots of which I’m incredibly proud. There are ample gardens and other areas to explore at the bottom meaning we spent half a day here.

The Lion’s Paws. You can see the iron staircase in the background.
Favourite action shot ever

Later that afternoon we decided we hadn’t quite had enough of stairs or climbing so we headed to Pidurangula rock from which you can view Sigiriya and sunset. The initial climb was straightforward, up some more steps until you reach a reclining Buddha. From here to reach the summit you must scramble over various rocks, hoisting yourself up and squeezing through gaps. The view was stunning though and sunset was worth the effort. The way down is poorly lit however and it gets dark very quickly here so as soon as the sun disappeared everyone made a getaway, meaning a large queue to squeeze back through the gap before reaching the steps, we’d also decided to walk the 4km there meaning a long walk in the dark back to our tent (we went for a really upmarket hostel this time!) but it gave us the perfect opportunity to gaze at the stars.

The scramble to the top of Pidurangala Rock
Worth it for the view
But huge queue for the tiny gap on the way back down . Not my hand

The next day was jammed packed too. Up early for the fourth day in a row and catching another two buses to reach Anuradhapura. Anuradhapura was the capital of the island before Polonnaruwa and is an important pilgrimage site thanks to the Sri Maya Bodhi, a sacred Bodhi tree, now documented as the oldest Bodhi tree in the world. Yep there are records for this kind of thing. There was no rest for the wicked though for as soon as we reached our guesthouse we engaged a tuk tuk and guide to drive us around some of the free / separately ticketed sites. You can hire bikes to explore but the city was large and it looked as though some of the sites were quite far apart so we decided to treat ourselves! The hot afternoon was spent visiting the tree, quite an awe inspiring sight, as well as various dagobas. Our guide was knowledgeable without being intrusive, giving us the background but leaving us to explore on our own. He dropped us at the royal park, giving us directions on where to go and a trail to follow back around the lake to Isurumuniya Vihara, a lovely rock temple. We spent the majority of our time at this particular temple throwing coins at a small ledge in the rock trying to make them land there and not in the pond! Third time lucky for me, Joey of course was far better at this than me. It was a charming afternoon and we were glad we took the easy option on this occasion – so much so that we engaged Pala the following day!

The oldest Bodhi Tree in the world

This was the big day as it was time to splash the cash on the ticket for the rest of the sites. Being cultural does not come cheap, entry to these three sites cost us $80 each! We actually missed out part of the triangle at Dambulla too as we’d seen plenty of cave temples in India! We covered palaces and temples- some more impressive than others. There was the palace with the 8 metre high door, lots more moonstones and lots of dagobas and stupas. One Stupa was constructed with approximately 90 million bricks – apparently enough to build a 3 metre high wall all the way from London to Edinburgh! There were Stupas that purportedly contain various relics of Buddha such as his right collarbone, a belt and an unnamed relic. The government have commissioned the construction of several new stupas around the city and Pala told us this was mainly to give the army a job since the war has ended.

The 8 metre high door. I look like I’ve shrunk in the wash
What 90 million bricks looks like

It was an exhausting few days, so much so that I actually put off writing about it. We normally don’t do activities on days that we travel (unless it involves going to a beach) so we definitely feel in need of rest over the next couple of weeks before we have to head back to India!

Hiking the hills

We arrived in Ella on a Sunday afternoon. Sundays are the busiest day to travel in Sri Lanka and we always seem to manage to travel on them! We needed to change buses and the first bus we got on was packed to the brim and we really thought we stood no chance of boarding with our backpacks. Luckily the conductor hauled our bags into the boot and a random passenger took my day bag with our valuables on his lap for the duration whilst we stood. Ella was quite different to what we’d experienced so far – there were hills and it was noticeably cooler. The first stop was actually to a medical centre to get my face checked out following my accident in Dickwella. It was still very swollen and painful and I was actually starting to believe my jokes that I’d fractured my cheekbone. The medical centre seemed to be in a hotel lobby, there was another western couple waiting – we got the comfy seats and WiFi in the lobby and all the locals were waiting outside on plastic chairs! Thankfully a quick check over revealed that I hadn’t fractured anything and instead had a hematoma. She sent me packing with four lots of drugs and a gel to reduce pain, swelling and prevent the infection spreading to my brain (these were her parting words to me so I ensured I diligently took all my drugs!). I was just grateful I didn’t get a jab in my behind like when I was in Colombia! Thankfully the drugs did what they were supposed to and I no longer resemble a chipmunk, nor whince every time I touch my face.

The next day we set off to hike Ella Rock. This took 4 hours in total. You spend the first 45 minutes walking along the railway track and jumping out the way when the train comes. Then you climb steadily uphill through tea plantations and forests of eucalyptus trees. I found this such hard going, I realised we have barely seen hills in our time away and my hill fitness has massively diminished (if it was ever even there). I don’t mind admitting that I had a little paddy about the whole thing and was regretting all my life choices. What was really weighing on my mind though was a hike we’d planned to do a week later. We did make it to the top though and the views made it worthwhile. The descent was equally as bad as there was lots of loose gravel and everyone seemed to slip and slide their way down. We rewarded ourselves afterwards by going to a bar for a pint. Ella is definitely the most backpackery place we’ve been too and this was demonstrated by all the bars and cafes and more travellers than locals.

Ella Rock viewed from our homestay
The view from the top of Ella Rock

The next day we got up at stupid o’clock to hike up another hill, Little Adam’s Peak to catch the sunrise. It was beautiful and worth the effort. That day was Independence Day in Sri Lanka but celebrations seemed low key compared to when we had celebrated Independence Day in Chile. We also took a bus to some waterfalls and quite frankly, they were a little disappointing. They were nice enough, but honestly? Once you’ve been to Iguazu Falls anything else seems a little underwhelming. Maybe I’m becoming too well travelled?

Sunrise viewed from Little Adam’s Peak

That afternoon we set off for the famous Nine Arches Bridge. Again this was a 40 minute walk along the railway track. The bridge was a nice piece of architecture and it led to Joey and I having an interesting discussion about how many sights are must see now because of Instagram and social media? 10 years ago would we have walked to see a bridge?!

Nine Arches Bridge

The next day we walked miles to a tea plantation. As the previous day had been a national holiday no tea had been picked so there was no production but it was still interesting to see the equipment and learn how it is produced. We also tasted some tea which even I managed to sip.

Then it was time to do the famous train ride to Nuwara Eliya. The train journey between Ella and Kandy is reported to be one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world. It was very pleasant, through hills, clouds and tea plantations. The most amusing thing about it though were all of the people trying to get *that* shot of them hanging out of the train door. I’m sure you know the one I mean. Couples seem to do it kissing and we watched one couple spend about 20 minutes trying to get the shot, shouting to their friends getting them to take it and retake it. She was hanging on the bottom and nearly banged her head on low hanging things and walls more than once! Not for us thank you!

Nuwara Eliya is described as Little England and is certainly the coldest place we’ve been to! Even then it wasn’t as cold as I’d been led to believe. We have to confess to this being the first place in Sri Lanka that we didn’t fall in love with. I didn’t hate it, but it’s not somewhere I’d choose to come back to. We arrived and then after some discussion opted to not do the big attraction in the area- Horton Plains. After our time at Udawalawe we have been reluctant to do any more national parks as we fear they won’t be as good. Plus the cost was quite high. Instead we chilled for a few days, going to a town park and another tea factory. This tour was dialled in by our particular tour guide who was definitely more interested in flirting with the guys in the factory then showing us around. From Pedro’s tea factory you can walk to another waterfall, I actually found this one more impressive than the other one, but we did have this one to ourselves so maybe that made a difference?

Lover’s Leap Waterfall

From here we took three buses to reach Dalhousie. Dalhousie is one of the starting points of the hike to the summit of Adam’s Peak. Adam’s Peak is 2,243 metres high and at the summit is a footprint. Some purport that the footprint is that of Buddha, some that it is of Shiva and some that it is Adam’s footprint from when he was cast out of the Garden of Eden. To reach the summit you have to climb over 5500 steps (no one seems to know exactly how many there are) and start in the middle of the night to reach the summit for sunrise. So here we were taking three buses to get to a town which the sole purpose of visiting was to climb 5500 steps in the dark starting at 1am. If climbing Ella Rock hadn’t made me question my life choices then this was definitely making me wonder whether I was drunk when I included it in the itinerary.

Some of the dark dark steps needed to climb Adam’s Peak

So we went to bed at 6pm as our alarms were set for midnight. Our guesthouse had very thin walls and you could hear all the comings and goings and when I’m trying to sleep before a big event I start to think very irrationally and was getting annoyed at all the noises. How dare they have a conversation outside my room at 7.30pm! We did eventually get some sleep before the bizarre act of getting up at midnight and trying to eat something and drink some coffee before leaving. It was a Poya Day (full moon) a couple of days before which had caused me all sorts of angst. Climbing Adam’s Peak is a pilgrimage for Buddhists, often to be undertaken on Poya days and we’d heard story after story of people almost making it to the top but not being able to reach the summit as there was an hour long queue to climb one step! I was fearful of it being too big a challenge for me and fearful that even if I did make it to the top I wouldn’t even get to see the footprint. I spent the nights leading up to it having lots of anxiety dreams.

We left our guesthouse just before 1am and started the slow ascent. According to the Lonely Planet it takes between 2 and 4 hours to ascend and 1-2 to descend depending on fitness and crowds. I definitely expected it to take me nearer 4. The first hour was quite easy. You start off very gently, going through a small temple and receive a blessing (in exchange for a small donation of course!), then you ring a bell to mark your start and off you go! As I say, it starts gently at first and there are flat patches. There are also tea houses and benches all the way up so you can rest regularly. We had our first rest after about an hour, stopping first for a bite to eat then about 5 minutes later when we spotted the first tea house selling coffee rather than tea. Then we ploughed onwards, passing pilgrims on their way up and on the way down as well. Our guesthouse has told us that Sri Lankan’s climb with the intention of performing Pooja at the top so don’t really worry about when they climb. They also do the climb in flip flops! We saw one guy with his leg in plaster and wearing flip flops so this definitely spurred me on. We stopped about 40 minutes later for another coffee break. As we went further up the hill the refreshments got more expensive – I guess someone’s got to carry the supplies up!

At the start of the walk, it was very dark!

As we continued on the steps got narrower and steeper. It was impossible to get into any rhythm. We had a quick bathroom break and then we realised that we weren’t that far from the top which lifted our spirits. The last hour had been tough but honestly? It wasn’t as bad as thought it was going to be. Ella Rock had felt tougher. It took us 3 hours to ascend which was way better than I expected. Upon reaching the top there’s another bell to ring to signal that you made it. You are supposed to ring it once for every ascent. We heard one person ring it 16 times. Then we queued for the temple to see the footprint. The actual footprint is covered in gold and it’s massive!! I obviously hadn’t done my research properly as I was surprised at how large it was. It’s over 5 foot long so I guess it’s not often that something’s bigger than you expect! Then it was time to wait for sunrise. It is cold at the top and there’s quite the wind but it was fun to watch the first blue of the sky gradually appear before the sun came up. Was it the best sunrise we’ve ever seen? Probably not. The best part was Actually once the sun was up seeing the perfect triangle shadow cast from the mountain appear on the other side. This is quite the phenomenon as it’s not the shape of the mountain!

Sunrise from Adam’s Peak
The perfect triangle shadow

Then it was time to make our way down. The first hour was hard going, everyone was leaving at the same time so it was busy and the steps that were steep on the way up were steeper on the way down. We had borrowed sticks from our guesthouse and were so grateful to have something to lean on. We breaked once on the way down and it took over 2 hours to reach the bottom. It was hard, hard going.

The descent

We reached our guesthouse just after 9am and were greeted with a huge breakfast! We spent the morning catching up on sleep and then went for a gentle walk around the town. As the day went on we could feel the aches and pains gradually creeping in but at that point it was manageable. It was enjoyable and quite the achievement, particularly for me with my lupus and arthritis. Would I do it again so I can ring the bell twice? Definitely not!!!

We made it! Somewhere en route I lost my hairband

Elephants in Udawalawe National Park

Apologies, I know I wrote a blog yesterday and I’m really not intending to spam you all but today was such an incredible day I needed to share it whilst it’s still fresh in the mind.

We caught the bus direct to Udawalawe from Tangalle, there’s one direct bus a day run by the government and it was amazing – we were the last remaining passengers on board and the driver diverted to drop us pretty much outside our hotel. Have I mentioned how much I love the buses here?! So cheap and helpful. I looked at my spending stats earlier today and in the four weeks we’ve been here we’ve spent less than £13 between us on transportation. In four months in India we spent over £600. That’s probably partly because towns are smaller so we don’t need to take tuk tuks around, but even in India we very rarely took tuk tuks unless we really had to!

Anyway I digress. Udawalawe is home to a national park. There are a couple of national parks in the south, with Yala being really famous and popular which is part of the reason why we opted for Udawalawe. Our hotel just happened to be opposite the Elephant Transit Home, which is basically an orphanage for elephants where they prepare them for life in the wild and release them into the park when they are ready. They feed the elephants four times a day and you can go and watch. There is no audience participation and you just sit and watch which was beautiful. They let the elephants into the feeding areas in small groups where they are given milk and then they go to another area to feed on leaves before going off into another area for the evening. It was so sweet to watch them drinking their milk and waiting for each other to finish before going off together. There is also an adult elephant housed there who is missing part of a leg so they have given them an artificial leg. Who thought that I needed to see an elephant with an artificial leg?! They even removed the leg during feeding and gave it a wash.

Baby elephants are the cutest

Then this morning we got up at 4.45am to go on safari in the park. We were picked up at 5.30am and driven to the park entrance in a jeep. The jeep is a separate cost to the entrance fee. We were lucky enough to be the only ones in ours. It was surprisingly chilly at that time in the morning, particularly as the jeep was open top and driving quite quickly so I would definitely recommend taking a shirt for the first part of the day. It will soon warm up though!

You join the queue to buy your ticket (I’d definitely recommend using the washroom here as your only other option is a bush!) then head back to your jeep and go off in search of elephants and anything else you may find. The sunrise was stunning and we watched it accompanied by a couple of peacocks. It wasn’t long before we spotted our first elephants in the distance. Seeing elephants in the wild is something I’d wanted to do for a while and it really didn’t disappoint. It’s hard to describe how bizarre it is. They are so big and at times it looked almost like CGI because it was so surreal. Up close they are really wrinkly and leathery (who knew my twin was an elephant!) and their tails have almost feathers on the bottom to bat away the flies.

Look how close we were!

We headed on further and saw so many birds – I noted them all down and counted 17 species, including peacocks, kingfishers, eagles, owls and the pied kingfisher which our guide told us are only found in Udawalawe. We saw several peacocks putting on very impressive displays for their peahens and the way one of them was shaking himself – well I definitely would!

I would

We saw loads of buffalos basking in the reservoir. We learnt from our guide that water bufffalo have short and curly horns and normal buffalo long and straight horns. They were just standing in the reservoir which they do during the day and they eat grass at night. I asked our guide if they just stand there all day and he replied with a completely straight face ‘no, no, no. Sometimes they lie down’ then he told me they have four stomachs so consider this my request to come back as a buffalo.

I’m definitely coming back as a buffalo

As we moved on I was impressed at how few jeeps there were in the areas we were in. There was never once when there were more than four jeeps in an area which meant that elephants weren’t boxed in or anything which we had heard happened in Yala. We stopped for a group of four elephants in the bushes and they got closer and closer to us, eventually crossing right in front of the jeep. At this point we were less than 5 metres from them and they stared us in the eyes. They weren’t in the least bit bothered by us. We saw lots of young elephants and discovered that females travel in packs and the males were lone. We saw a few lone males including this fella who insisted on showing us what he had before putting it away!

As our guide said ‘Woah! Big boy!’

We moved on again and saw a couple of crocodiles basking in the sun with their mouths open. I was glad we weren’t any closer. Apparently freshwater ones only eat fish and birds, it’s the saltwater ones you need to watch out for.

Definitely as close as I’d want to get

Most people seem to opt for the 3 hour tour which you can do either between 6am-9am or between 2pm-5pm but we opted for 8 hours. I’m glad we did as it meant we could take our time going round the park and spend longer at the stops we did make. The last stop we made was at a different part of the reservoir where there were 4 elephants, including a baby one who was barely 2 months old At first they were just eating grass with the baby one trying to join in. Then they moved to the edge of the reservoir and started dousing themselves with water. What a magnificent sight that was! To see the water being sprayed out of the spout was breathtaking and I have a video of this on my Instagram page (@meandering_maxwells) Then they all got in the reservoir to have a little wade and walk to the other side. It was amazing! We were so close to them and they were so passive and so breathtakingly beautiful!

These guys were the sweetest

I think the Sri Lanka tourist board should give me a job as I have been waxing lyrical to everyone about how they should immediately book a holiday here! If you want to see elephants in the wild then I would definitely definitely recommend Sri Lanka and Udawalawe. I would even go as far to say that this ranks as my top travel thing ever!

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