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Day 15 – Echuca, Australia

After leaving Singapore at 22.40 we arrived at Melbourne Airport for 9.30, after just over 1 hours sleep. George was very upset as we went through E-Checkin, but mine failed which led me to get a stamp in my passport. Madz (who George had met from his travels in the US) picked us straight up after driving around the airport a few times waiting for us to get through customs. After meeting Madz’s Dad were driven straight up to Echuca around 2.5 hours north of Melbourne. It’s where lots of locals from Melbourne go on holiday, like Devon / Cornwall. Once arriving we had a big nap followed by ‘chucking shrimps on the barbie’, trying our first beef sausage in bread (apparently different to a hot dog), got some Chang beer (24 for $46), and got very drunk with lots of beer pong (I especially since my 22nd).

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Day 13 & 14 – Singapore, Night Safari & Zoo

The original plan was to do the zoo in the day followed by the safari at night but after mining around in the morning we decided to get a Dominoes for lunch after the antics from the night before and go to the night safari for 7.30pm. Didn’t take that many photos as it was too dark but these are an assortment.

Then the following day we made it to the zoo! The highlight for me was the Elephant show ‘Elephants of Asia’ which was pretty amazing, the elephants were very well trained.

After the Zoo we got on the train to the airport and minced around so much we almost missed the check in for our flight… Whoops!

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Day 12 – Singapore, Mincing around!

We decided to have a mooch down to Marina Bay and have a look at the Marina Bay hotel. Next to our hostel was a Tin Tin shop that Henry would have loved! Along the river thee were loads of restaurants with fresh crabs and lobster outside. We walked down to the Merlion fountain, that is a made up creature of half fish/mermaid and half lion that is the national creature of Singapore.

After some noodles and a iced drink from 7 Eleven we hopped on the MRT to the Botanical Gardens…

On the way back we had a little look round little india which wasn’t great. Sorry Vikki

The showers in the hostel were petty weird and over the toilet or sink. George unfortunately got truly mugged off by this when he went to wash his hands..

The culprit

The culprit

Some funny photos that came up for FB verification:

Yes Henry

Yes Henry

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Day 10 & 11 – Surfing and Bye Sri Lanka

Location: Hikkaduwa & Negombo, Sri Lanka

So we finally got round to surfing, but were also leaving Sri Lanka! George felt pretty confident (as always ;) ) after snowboarding and skate boarding, surfing would be easy. But I don’t think it was as easy as he anticipated. We got up early around 8.30am and headed straight for the beach as the sea was apparently calmer in the mornings. The hotel let us check out a little later so we could come back and shower, which was nice. Surfing was really fun and well worth the wait although I felt my arms staring to ache (from pushing up) and it was knackering walking back out to sea against the waves with the board every 30 seconds!

Whilst surfing we worked up a large appetite however we managed to get the surfing for 2000 LKR (£10) instead of 2400 LKR which meant we could purchase a cheeky 280 LKR (£1.40) breakfast from the hug inn. Which came in the form of a smiley face! Returning to breakfast meant we could see Jimmy again, who, this time was obsessed with my bag! We then caught the sweaty train all the way bag up to Colombo for 3 hours standing up and then a slightly nicer train up to Negombo where we would stay the night.

Arriving in Negombo we spent the remainder of our money on food leaving just enough for water and taxi to the airport in the morning. Great budgeting! We stayed at the same hostel again ‘Beach Monkey’, where we met a MAD Canadian man and an English guy who seemed to tell us alot of bull… We went to watch the Villa v Spurs game in a local bar ‘Rodeo’ where Spurs won 0-2 ;) . After the game the mad Candian was very drunk bought us sum horrible coconuty tequilay liqueur, and managed to get into some kind of argument with the establishment about drinks and then with the woman at the hostel.

Day 11

Location: Colombo Airport - Singapore, Singapore

Leaving Colombo we looked forward to yet another Emirates banquet. After a cheeky 4.5 hour flight we arrived in Singapore around 9.35pm. After getting the MRT (underground) to Chinatown and checking into the hostel around midnight there wasn’t many places left open and we hadn’t eaten dinner so grabbed a cheeky McDonalds, where they give you a seaweed power shake for chips and do McDonalds delivery.

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Day 9 – Galle Exploration

Location: Galle, Sri Lanka

The weather was pretty overcast so we opted for Galle and got some breakfast from the hotel which wasn’t great or particularly cheap (£2 for eggs, toast and tea IS expensive…). We were going to get the train to Galle now that we had mastered it, however the hotel manager informed us the bus would be easier as you could just flag it down outside the hotel and it would cost 30 LKR (15p … hope your understand the currency by now!) After about 10 buses had passed… or after 5 mins one stopped to let some locals / us on. It was an interesting experience. They had some loud Sri Laken music on, some weird flashing lights at the front, it was pretty busy and dirty. Some strange slimy man was running up and down the bus collecting money, as people could get on the back or front.

We managed to arrived safely in Galle, where we: Looked around the old town (which was quite nice), we saw the cricket ground (which looked rubbish), George got chatted up by a Tuk Tuk driver and we had a general mooch around.

When we got back to Galle we went and spoke to the Surf guy who told us to get there early in the morning. And later chilled out on the beach with a few beers before an early night.

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Day 7 & 8 – Illness & Postcards

Location: Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

After a pretty good first day I was woken up to the sound of George throwing up multiple times (23). At the point I was half asleep and just wanted the weird noise to stop. George was obviously not feeling very well, after venturing downstairs I was informed the sea wasn’t safe to swim, so spent the rest of the day next to the pool until the sun went in, so decided to start Season 4 of Breaking Bad (thinking it was the last season). George was feeling a little better and we went for a pretty nice pizza. Not a very successful day!

Day 8 – Postcards

After a pretty unsuccessful day previously, this day didn’t get much better. We were both pretty shattered from the previous night so had a long lye in with some more Breaking Bad and some Worms for George. We tried to nom on some of George’s left over pizza from the night before but it wasn’t great. So we decided to venture out to the post office to get the postcards in the post! We decided to make a plan for the next day, to get up early have breakfast, if the weather looked decent surf, if not head to Galle.

NB: Sorry these days weren’t the best… It gets better honest!

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Day 6 – Hikkaduwa & Train

It was time to leave the capital Colombo and head south along the coast to Hikkaduwa. The south / south west is famous for its beaches, one of the best beaches being at Galle around 10 miles south of Hikkaduwa. However we wanted to do some surfing which Hikkaduwa is recommended for. This meant getting the train from Colombo, this time 2nd class was available for 160 LKRN (80p) for a 3 hour train journey (60 miles). We thought 2nd class would have been nicer as it was double to price of 3rd class but the train was overly packed and we couldn’t get a seat. It also waited around the station in Colombo for 30 mins before leaving which got slightly un-comfortable to say the least. Some local teenagers got on next to us and were kind of hanging out of the train which we kind of copied (lots to see and very cool, but felt like Molly!). The train ran down next to the coast so could see the sea / beach the majority of the way.

We thought we would treat ourselves and stay at a cheap hotel ‘Ocean View Cottage’ with AC, it has a pool and a view of the sea which is about 100 yards away (‘a couple of yards’, George). We walked along the beach and into town for a little exploration the weather was pretty hot around 30C although the real feel is a lot more especially with the humidity. We looked for some beach towels and this guy was trying to tell us his sad story about the tsunami and then tried to start negotiation at 2500 LKR £12.50 for them. We didn’t even want them, so I decided to make an executive decision and run away.

On the way back we thought we would splash out and get Corona’s for 350 LKR compared to Lion for 180 LKR then again Corona’s for £1.75 in a beach restaurant/bar is pretty good. After getting refreshed we ventured back out to find some nightlife and ended up with some casual lions, playing pool on an awful table that was 400 LKR for 30 mins! We ended up playing ping pong / table tennis as it was free with a Tuk Tuk driver and a fisherman. The Tuk Tuk driver said on a good day in high season he earns around 5000-7000 LKR a day and in low season he is a chief and only earns 3000 LKR a day (£15).

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Day 5 – Colombo, Train & Barry

After succeeding to get up with the alarm @ 8.30am we decided to get the train as the roads were pretty dangerous it was the safest and also cheapest way to travel. We read in guides we should get 1st class which is cheap but if not available then 2nd class. We went to get our tickets and after some exchange of broken English only 3rd class was available. 3rd class was 40 LKR for a 1.5 hour journey (20p). We expected the worse and the tickets from the day before were being counted very manually. Once on the train we got our place at the end of the carriage although having to stand and being stared at a bit the journey wasn’t too bad.

After arriving at Colombo station we got a METERED Tuk Tuk to the hostel ‘The Clock Inn’ which again the driver didn’t know where it was! It was strange being in a metered ‘taxi’ and not having to worry about the meter although it cost us 600 LKR which was expensive as it only cost us 300 LKR to get back (but 600 LKR = £3.00)! The Clock Inn was premium accommodation, very clean with free wifi everywhere and air-con. This was very nice and needed after the first too very sticky humid nights. We had done limited research on Colombo but I’d seen this cool cricket cafe which looked good and was only a 2 minute walk from where we were staying. Phil M would have been jealous (see photos).

After lunch we decided to go and view a few sights and go to the beach for the sunset: all of which was recommended by one of the chaps at the hostel. First we went to see a lake with garden and temple on it.

Now we didn’t have much planned apart from looking around the city centre and watching the sunset. Meet Barry (not sure what his name is but it began with ‘B’).

(Barrys the one in the middle)

Barry’s the one in the middle

We weren’t to sure what was going on to start with and we were having to be very careful as a lot of people try to take advantage of you (being white), their eyes light up when they see you. He seemed nice and originally showed us to a few local sights. Which later extended him showing us the whole of Colombo in a Tuk Tuk we felt bad in the end as we had to pay 3000 LKR  /£15 for the Tuk Tuk and only had 200 LKR to give him as a tip but we think they might have been working together. Anyway it was a win win as we saw pretty much everywhere in Colombo. Most used phrase was by Barry, which was, ‘Take a picture, take a picture’.

After seeing Barry off we didn’t have much money so decided to walk back along the beach and see the sunset.

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Day 3 & 4 – Negombo, Sri Lanka

Location: Negombo, Sri Lanka

After not sleeping for 2 days we wanted somewhere fairly near the airport where we could crash. After another fine breakfast banquet on the 4.5 hour flight from Dubai. We arrived at the airport at 8am and got a taxi to our destination of Negombo: a local fishing town. The taxi cost 1500 LKR or £7.50 (fairly expensive but too tired to barter). In Negombo we stayed at a guest house called “Beach Monkey” which none of the taxi / tuk tuk drivers seemed to know. Where we slept all day (8am  - 6pm) …. Classic Jetlag. The guesthouse was a little strange but cost £2.80 for a night with breakfast (which consisted of 2 slices of toast, both with an excessive amount of value butter / margarine on and in George’s words a “Grim hard boiled egg… Oh and the kid who seemed to be in charge the whole time wore the same clothes for 3 days in a row.”). After waking up and having a cold shower we decided to have a mooch around and explore town.

After having a mooch around we came back to have our first prawn meal around 750 LKR and 250 LKR for a can of Carslberg. The owner was very friendly and gave us a Sri Lanka magnet as a gift (probably a ploy to get more money out of us but we enjoyed ourselves). We decided to get a couple of beers and go to bed. So we sampled Lion, Sri Lanka’s home-brewed local lager (Carslberg is also brewed here but is a ‘Premium beer’). Negombo had some kind of religious carnival on hence the pretty lights.

Day 4

Jet lag majorly kicked in and after going to sleep at midnight we woke up wide awake at 4am until around 8am where we then passed out again till 13.00… Whoops! (Missing the 9.50 alarm which was apparently going off for agers, that George decided to ignore and I slept though). We eventually got into town in the day where we discovered: Many dogs, awful driving, a clock tower round about, everyone wants your money here / loves talking to you, they do Fanta soda that looks like pee!, ice lollys are 15LKR (7.5p) and the sunset is nice!

After heading back we were waiting for the carnival to happen which consisted of loads of people following guys with trumpets to a church and setting off very loud fireworks in an alley way that was right next to our hostel… this was very loud! After, we went for a meal that was quite disappointing and expensive, due to place closing really early. I ordered this curry which wasn’t very nice but was quite large… The beer also came in some dirty polystyrene thermos.

Bye Negombo, in the morning we would be heading south to Colombo (the capital)!

 

 

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Day 1 & 2 – Emirates is fantastic

Location: Flight Birmingham to Dubai, UAE

After the last few stressful days of trying to get work finished and getting everything ready for the trip we were finally packed up and ready to go.

We were unexpectedly waved goodbye with a Union Jack from the one and only DJ BJ. Once arriving at Birmingham and checking our bags in we have an hour an  half to kill, so George introduced me to two of the three Wetherspoons. Where George learnt about contactless payments.

I’d heard from others Emirates was good, but did not realise how awesome they would be. For a starters you get around a 13″ touchscreen which had much better Movies than Virgin Atlantic and even had multiplayer battleships (which we gave up on within around 30 seconds). We also enjoyed a large banquet of food which was a tandoori chicken curry with loads of other stuff plus beer and G&T.

Arriving at Dubai the first thing that had to be mentioned was that the airport was unnecessarily massive. It took us about 20 mins to get from our gate out of the airport (excluding queuing for immigration)! We couldn’t get our bags as it was a connecting flight to Sri Lanka, so we would have to wait around for 19 hours for the flight in the clothes we were wearing. Instead of waiting around at the airport we decided to explore Dubai for a bit and go into town. This was at 8am and our flight was at 2.45 am. Introducing Will… who we met waiting for a bus for the town centre that we found out we couldn’t catch unless we had a bus card. So shared a taxi in to the centre to a large shopping centre. We went and had some breakfast at Tim Hortons! So we could get some internet and ate them out of their plain croissants. Farmer will had a strange experience with Turkey Bacon. After around an hour or so we wanted to go and explore other places after walking outside for 10 mins we decided to turn back as we couldn’t walk in the heat and there were no locals outdoors! So we were stuck in the shopping centre with no benches but there was ten pin bowling with very short lanes. The night finished ok with a moderate meal at Jack’s (Daniel’s) Bar & Grill in the airport where they had free pool and the England,  Montenegro game on (We won 4-1).

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