Ready for take off

Or as ready as can be. Bags are packed, we had a swim in the ocean before breakfast, yesterday we gave small presents to the closest friends here and we will get a ride in a car to the airport this afternoon.
It’s both nice and sad to leave, as it is most of the time in life. Ups and downs,  good and bad, happy and sad.

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Out bying spices to bring

For us, it feels like we’ll come back to Sri Lanka in the future. But life here, and the look of things will most certainly change a lot over the coming years – tourism is yet in the beginning of what’s to come.

We are so grateful for the possibility to be here this time, with the people we have met and to experience a place so beautiful and nice, yet unspoilt. Genuine, that probably is a good word to describe it. Experiences, people and the food feels genuine.

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Last night with the family

So, what awaits us now? More than 24 hours of traveling; car, planes and train.
And then we arrive in Karlskrona and take the ferry out to the small island of Aspö where we’ll be living the coming 6 months. (as the plan looks now).

How it will feel to land in the +1 degree weather? We don’t know. Sweaters are packed to access easily in the hand luggage, and we have asked mom to lend us some hats and socks as we arrive on the island.

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Yesterday I went with a friend who got a haircut

In the bags we bring memories and presents from people here in Weligama, and our wet swim suits!

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After surfing a few weeks ago

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#paradise

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Cows walking freely and eating

The other day a friend sent a message asking how life is in paradise.
Sure, it’s very much like what many people would consider paradise here in Sri Lanka; turquise colored water, white sandy beaches, coconut trees everywhere, fresh fruits and lots of other tropical features.

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Curry in the making

It’s also sooooo much more…

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Anything-you-need-shop

Stray dogs, poor people, mosquitos, noisy neighbors, crazy traffic…

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Fish curry cooking for memorial ceremony

Smiles, fresh fruits, small talk, caring friends, colorful corals, wild monkeys…

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Vegetable market

Rain, power loss, water from a well, exotic birds, tasty foods, sweet tea…

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Truck loaded with bananas

Loud music, flip-flops, batik clothes, arrak, tuktuks, insane “que-system”(anyone passes the line at any time), low education level, history, language difficulties…

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Beach with a view in Galle

Cricket, boats, military, school uniforms, temples, rice and curry, ceremonies, home made food, pollution, laces, Ayurveda…

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Headband to protect the ears in the afternoon breeze

Sun screen, swimming with clothes on, bare feet, beggars, religious people, buses, lizards, trash, sunsets, alcoholics…

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Sunset at Weligama Beach

In other words – this is a country with many sides, people of all sorts and it’s own culture. A paradise for some, a not-so-much paradise for some. Like every place and every country I guess.

//Wivan

House hunting and choices

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One of many houses that needs a little repair

Walking, riding tuktuks, talking, discussing, drinking tea, asking for price… It’s been a day of looking for a place to stay a bit longer.

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Waiting for a guy to show us a house

We’ve stayed on the stretch between Weligama and Midigama, and were sure about the location we wanted, we had calculated on different prices in beforehand and thought of what features we looked for. We’ve been into small local houses, different guest houses and modern hotel/B&B’s and finally decided to make a deal with Horizon Inn, between Jungle beach and the fishermen’s village.

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Two ladies on the beach between Midigama and Kubalgama

It was a few things that stood out to us here: owners and staff have a very calm and welcoming energy, super clean and bright rooms, AC, fridge on the room(!), bed lights, walking distance to nice beaches, owners speaking good English, reasonable prices and we get to stay on the second floor.

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Mosquito thingy

Plus, one little detail that shows a lot of thoughtfulness: a mosquito repellent in each room, even if they usually don’t have mosquitos at this place they want to show their care and concern for us. Isn’t that smart!? And, they are more than willing to arrange for me to be able to cook my own food if I want to, have different pillows to choose from, they’ve heard from other customers about good coffee and got a nice machine, and we get to choose our breakfast from day to day.

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Reading lights!!!

So, today we have gotten a lot of training in the art of negotiating, of asking for what we want, staying true to ourselves even if others have different agendas and to go for a Hell Yes!

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Walking between places

It has already showed to be a good choice: we got an amazing rice and curry for dinner here, and both of us are breathing deeper after knowing we are staying a bit longer here.

Tomorrow morning I am off to the market with the mother of our local family, and Anders is sleeping in. After that, there’s no plan!

Good night!
//Wivan

Back in…

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Jungle beach

Both of us are a bit tired after a day of discussing, packing and changing plans yesterday, and a long day of traveling today. Now we’ve arrived in… Weligama! (again)
Yes, there was a plan of going inland to Kandy, Ella and other places, but when thinking of seeing new places all the time, learning about history and move every two nights, we realized what we really want is to settle down a while.

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Colombo Fort Railway station Sunday morning

Train rides here are always a bit humbling to us, and filled with learning about cultures, people, ourselves, heat, comforts and luxuries in the West.

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Inside Colombo Fort Railway station

After an hour’s delay even before departure, and with us standing in the isle and no fans onboard, it was nice to roll out of the city and watch the ocean outside of the train.

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Walking from the train towards Weligama city center

When arriving in Weligama, a couple of tuktuk drivers tried to give us tourist prices for a ride, but since we know the area and what’s a reasonable price, we walked down the street and found another driver to take us for the price we offered.

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View from a beach close to the hotel

We got a room at our favorite hotel for the coming night, and tomorrow we’ll go house shopping, hoping to find someplace to rent for the coming month or so.

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Happy to see Mona surfing

The family we’ve spent so much time with here were very happy to have us back and soon had arranged a wonderful dinner for us at their house.

Now our “challenge” is to tell them how much we love them and all of their care, and that we still want to do some cooking for ourselves and that we like to have some time on our own too.

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Did you know that four backpacks and two people fit into one tuktuk?!

Ok, time for some sleep – hopefully without noisy roosters and village entertainment in outdoor speakers!

Lots of salt water and sunshine,
Anders and Wivan

Bumpy train ride from Weligama to Negombo

Today we took off to Colombo and then to Negombo for a house sit that starts on Thursday/Friday.
After two weeks in Weligama, last night was party night at “our” Sri Lankan family’s house!

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Dancing!

They had prepared many different things for us; coconut torches on the front side, music for dancing, lovely bbq fish, drinks, a big dinner and ice cream (!) with jelly.

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The guys off to buy arrak

I danced for hours, or that’s what it felt like, with kids from the village. The grown-ups didn’t dance until it was dark.

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Some of the kids and parents

People stood out on the street to watch us, and some of them were clapping along with the music. Again, it was a sight to see the “tall” Swedish Sri Lankan girl dancing!

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Kids all excited about us dancing together

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Coconut torches in the making

So, after sharing this lovely time together, we spent a last night in the small hotel by the beach.

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Breakfast with a view

About six hours on trains today, costing around €2,50 for the both of us. Hot, bumpy, beautiful and another very Sri Lankan experience.

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We got seats today!

An hour of waiting in Colombo passed quickly in the company of a Chinese woman.

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Colombo Fort railway station

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Lots of people at the station

Finally we arrived at the place we’ll stay at and care for two shy dogs, and tonight we sort of got a cultural shock when hanging out with expats and westerners after several weeks with mostly locals.

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Train from Colombo to Kochchikade

Anders won a bottle of white wine at the quiz and bingo night we attended in Negombo, so that was very nice!
Tomorrow we’ll probably just rest, get some fresh fruits to the house and get settled with everything around here.

Until then!
//Wivan

Full moon ceremony

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Walking to the temple

Yesterday was full moon day, and the Buddhists here in Sri Lanka celebrate that day with a special ceremony.
We’ve now learned that you’re not supposed to eat eggs on a full moon day, and it’s very good to go to the temple and make offerings – especially at around 6 pm.

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Full moon, looks almost like the sun

The family had invited us to come, and told us that it was good to wear white. So we did.
And by Anders wearing a sarong, and I having a white shirt with batik patterns, people were commenting on how Sri Lankan we looked ;-).

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Not everyone wore white

After walking to the village temple we were given flowers to put on the stands in front of the pictures of different gods. Then we walked to a monastary where we got a place in a long line of people, where everybody was supposed to touch and carry the many baskets and trays of offerings before they were handed into the temple.

Above our heads, huge bats started to fly off into the sky when it turned dark. Close to the temple site was a cobra nest (!), and we had to walk quickly between all the statues and holy places to keep up with the others… Oil lamps, incense sticks and flowers – we did it all.

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"Small dinner" after the ceremony

Afterwards we were invited to have what Malika, the amma (mother) of the family calls a small dinner… It’s always lots of food! On a full moon, milk-rice and sambal is good to eat, and we also got coconut roti (bread), fish curry and shrimp. Fresh pinapple and bananas for dessert.

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First time the family ate with us!

This dinner was very special, since for the first time almost all members of the family ate together with us! The men took turns at sitting by the table, and the women sat on chairs beside or behind us. Usually we as guests eat separately, and the family comes in to talk a little, put on more food on our plates and then eat after we have left. Now that has changed, and it feels good!

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"Take away coconuts"

When leaving the dinner we got two coconuts to bring to the hotel, to drink today. And when finally getting through, they were very good!

Happy Sunday!
// Wivan and Anders

Surprises, we love surprises

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Two year old boy, happy to have his picture taken

The past week has been filled with all kinds of surprises. Mostly good surprises. We’ve been invited to people’s homes for tea, taken out on little tours around the village and in the surrounding area, been out on a fishing boat twice, played with children, swimming with a turtle, bought fresh seafood while snorkeling with fishermen, laughing with new friends, surfing and learned a bit of Sinhala. All those good surprises happen without any planning, we find ourselves in situations we could never have imagined in beforehand. And it’s good fun!

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Wiva, Andrew and Mona in the tuktuk

Yesterday we went for a tour that our friend/”brother”/surf teacher/tour guide Mona had invited us to. When we got into the tuktuk we realized we didn’t really know what we were going to see or what was going to happen along the tour. Something about tea and batik we had understood, and therefor we were quite surprised when the first stop was at a gem, stone and jewelry factory! Nice to see, and after the salesmen tried to sell us expensive jewelry for €1800, we did actually buy a ring to replace my wedding ring that doesn’t fit in this tropical heat. A thin silver ring with a tiny pink stone to remind of Sri Lanka. This one was €15 which more suited our budget.

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Simple, pretty silver ring

After that first stop we drove through beautiful green landscape with rice fields, coconut trees, mountains in the distance, passing small villages, fruit stands along the road and rubber plantations. Next stop was at Galaboda tea plantation where we had a nice tour of the plantation, the factory and then had a tea tasting. The two of us enjoyed the tea tasting of different black and green teas, but the Tuktuk Man and Mona thought the teas weren’t that good without sugar… Most Sri Lankan people like to drink their tea with sugar in it.

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Organic tea plantation

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Tea factory

Another good surprise yesterday was that we’re becoming more and more close to the Sri Lankan family we’ve spent a lot of time with the past week, so yesterday the boys started to make a lot more jokes and laughed with us. We really like that!

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Woman working in tea factory

After the not-sweet-enough tea tasting we took off to a batik factory. Wow! That was a colorful time! And it was nice to see the many steps of making these beautiful batik clothes, bed sheets and decorations.

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Playful pictures

We did buy some clothes at very good prices at the factory, and when leaving we also were encouraged to give the tour guiding lady some tips. Sometimes it is so hard to know how much to give, and yesterday it was clear that 100 Rupees were not enough, her face expression said it all, so we gave 200 and that was apparently a little better.

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Batik clothes drying outside

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Making patterns with hot wax

After the tour and a late lunch at the family’s house, we got another surprise we never would have imagined, first we got invited by a man on the street to see the house he and his family and friends are working on and that he and his future wife will live in. He then invited us to come to the wedding at the house on Friday! He asked us to promise to come, and his friends said they were hoping we would come and that no presents were needed. Of course we want to go, and we said yes and again decided to extend our stay here in Weligama!

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Friendly people giving us coconut water

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Niece and nephew of the groom

Our “plan” at the moment is to head up north to Colombo in the beginning of next week to extend our visas and then go to Negombo where we have a house sit booked.
Who knows what will happen, plans change and surprises might come along the way!

Take care and enjoy whatever surprises today might bring.
//Wivan

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Wax decoration in batik factory

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Sewing in the batik factory

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Coloring

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Coloring in buckets

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Heating away the wax and rinsing the clothes

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Anders buying a sarong