A Travellerspoint blog

Culture Shock?

By Sara

View Round the World Trip on JonAndSara's travel map.

While I was researching our trip I came across some articles on culture shock. Apparently a lot of travellers experience this early on in their travels. It was something that was always at the back if my mind but knowing myself I didn't think I would experience it. I thought this because I a don't usually like to spend too much time in one place and I strive to always find new experiences. Always itching to move on.

I am only a week or so into my trip and at the moment we have not experienced it and I hope it doesn't come. We will take a look at this subject again when we are deeper into our trip. It will be interesting to see what happens.

As I am writing this new blog, I am lying in a hammock surrounded by coconut trees and mango trees. It's not a hard life!
Jon is giving some online marketing advise to our hosts which I think is very much appreciated.

It is very hot here so the best place to go is to wander down (past the monkeys and giant lizards) to the lagoon next to our lodgings for a breeze off the water. It's also a nice place to catch the red sunset.

I have mostly got used to having the constant stream of sweat, after a while it doesn't seem so bad. As long as I have my baggy cotton 'traveller' trousers (not those hareem trousers!! I refuse to wear them!!), that I bought off a seamstress at the side of the road, and vest top, I'm fine.

We haven't experienced any dodgy tummies yet which is good. However it is a horrible feeling to know that it's coming, one day soon for us!! Dum dum duuummmm!

Posted by JonAndSara 00:40 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (0)

Southern Sri Lanka

Me and my Coconut foot. By Sara.

View Round the World Trip on JonAndSara's travel map.

As I lie here in my four poster, mosquito net covered, bed with my foot swollen to the size of a large king coconut I think to myself, is it all worth it?.... Hell yea!! And let me tell you why!

Where do I start?... With the Elephant that became my meditation buddy? The massive Green turtles that became my beach buddy's or the crazy bus ride where I thought it might just be the end for me? I'll start from the beginning.

As we tuk tuked our way into the madness of Colombo City I thought, this is it, this is my new life, what on earth have I got myself into. It was a fabulous mixture of excitement, that I was in this crazy new country that was like taking a step back in time, and fear that I was going to die in this tuk tuk in a terrible road crash!! It was exhilarating! We hooted like crazy, darting in and out of all the traffic. The traffic seems to move in a mad way but some how it works and the accident statistics are surprisingly low compared to the UK. As my tuk tuk experiences have grown over my time here, I have in turn grown a love for them. They are easy, quick and very very cheap! Like 50p cheap! And the drivers are all so welcoming and chatty. They are a million miles away from our London black cabs and I'd choose a tuk tuk over a black cab any day.
While we are on the subject of traffic, I will quickly talk a bit about crossing the roads, oh my goodness! So, what you have to do is just go and the traffic either stops for you or toots around you. It's fabulous! (It's the same for when the stray dogs cross the road, which was fun to watch!)

Moving on, we happened to stumble across a Buddhist temple in the first day, it looked spectacular so we paid our £1 entry fee, removed our shoes (as you do here) and headed in to explore. For me (not Jon) this was a very spiritual place, I felt peace and happiness there, like I was meant to visit. It had a very calming effect on me and if Jon wasn't 'dragging his feet' I would have loved to have done an hour or so meditation there. So we were wondering through the main court yard and all of a sudden what rocks up behind me? An elephant dressed in a blue silk jacket with about a dozen men dancing behind, all dressed in wonderful silver jewellery! (This was due to it soon being the Sri Lankan New Year). What an amazing experience! And on the first day of our trip, what a way to start off our travels! I looked at the time when this was happening and thought what I would be doing if I were home, this made the experience all the better when I realised I'd be at work dealing with the ridiculous Israeli 'out of date' year end spreadsheets! Poor Amanda! My friend who is stuck there wading through them!

A little bit more about Colombo before I move onto Rekawa - lovely friendly people, great food, pleasant hostel and what I call 'love island', this is a small man made island in the middle of one of the lakes. I call it love island because everyone that is on the island is a young couple in love, hugging each other, they just sit there for hours hugging! Loads of them. Such a happy place! Although Jon and I thought this was crazy - hugging in that heat! No way!

And then, on to Rekawa. It took us 7 hours via one crazy train, one crazy bus and one no so crazy (after that bus ride) tuk tuk. The train station was basic but easy to navigate, we purchased our £1 tickets and waited. Everyone chats to you while you wait, it's nice. (We think it is so that they can practice their English). Our train came and there was a mad rush, it was hot and packed! I was sweating buckets and trying to find a spot to stand which was under a fan. Found one, phew! And got myself together. I stood there watching out the window as the train passed the stunning coast line (and shanti towns) and thought, actually the London Underground is way worse than this!! No air con, more packed and no stunning view! 2 hours into our 4 hour journey a very kind gentleman offered me his seat which was welcomed greatly! So I sat there and munched on fruit that was being sold by men with baskets going up and down the train (the apple with chilli sprinkles was interesting). I thought to myself, it's lovely to be on a train and not want to go straight onto my iPad and watch a movie. It was another great experience.
When we arrived at Matara and had to find a bus that would take us to Tangalle, this was a nightmare as the drivers didn't understand us. Finally we got on one which we were 'pretty sure' was going in the right direction. It was so packed that the driver put me and my rucksack on the engine beside him!! (Jon was stuck in the middle of all the men). So there was me sitting on the engine with a million Sri Lankans staring at this crazy white lady on the engine! I just smiled a lot and said hi to them all. Being on the front engine gave me the best view on the scariest ride of my life! Oh my god! This bus driver was mad! (And I'm sure I saw him take a swig out of the bottle of rum beside the wheel!!) He was rushing in and out of people, bikes, cars, trucks, animals and tuks! It didn't matter to him that we were on the wrong side of the road most of the time and other buses were heading right towards us!! But some how we got thought it unscathed! Some how!!!!! (The driver and the ticket collector were laughing at me because I kept putting my head in my hands and shrieking!)
Once we made it to Tangalle we got a very pleasant tuk tuk ride to the Turtle Sanctuary where we are volunteering for 6 days.

While we volunteer at the turtle Sanctuary we are staying at 'Mumma Daisy's Homestay' which is very very basic (so basic I have bought the large fan into the four poster mosquito covered bed!) but wonderful. Mumma Daisy is a very lovely old Sri Lankan woman, who prepares us a feast of the most wonderful Sri Lankan food 3 times a day and then at 8pm we head to the beach for the turtle watches. So far we have got up close to 4 massive Green Turtles, one of which was laying eggs!! It was the most amazing experience!
On Monday at 10.17am (weird time!) it will be the Sri Lankan New Year. We have been invited to some of the locals houses to join in with the celebrations which I am very looking forward to. We are also preparing a festival for the kids with turtle games to get them to understand the importance of the protection of the turtles. The kids are very sweet and a pleasure to be around.
After we leave the Turtle Sanctuary we will be heading to Ella and Kandy before our flight to Beijing.

And now finally we are at day two at the sanctuary and we are off to the pharmacy for infection cream and antibiotics (and beer!), I think the blister on the back of my foot has got infected. I'm hoping it will be ok and my foot won't drop off! Fingers crossed!!

  • Side note - I shared my outdoor shower with a frog this morning.

Posted by JonAndSara 20:02 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (0)

Packing for the trip


The worst thing about preparing for a year’s worth of travelling isn’t the injections, or the tedious visa processes, or the endless repetition of listing all the countries you plan to visit when someone asks for the umpteenth time, “So, where is it you’re going again?” (actually, although it’s tiresome reeling off the list for the twentieth time throughout the same evening to numerous inquisitive friends there’s still an element of enjoyable Schadenfreude as you imagine the jealously burn deep within them). No, the worst thing about spending a year abroad is the packing. And I don’t mean the constant worry of how you’re going to pack everything you need to survive for a year into a space the size of a medium sized kitchen bin, for me, the worst part of packing was clearing a three bedroom house full from souvenirs, pictures, electrical goods & failed hobbies from 4 years’ worth of marriage.

At a conservative estimate our loft now contains three million boxes full of knick-knacks, mementos and assorted bric-a-brac, ten thousand boxes of towels, bedding, clothing and fabrics, three mountains of DVDs, two mounds of books and, possibly, somewhere, a partridge in a pear tree, but that’s probably buried under a pile of electrical goods and DIY equipment, meaning it’s now more like pâté in a pear tree.

Will we come back from our travels to realise we don’t need or want half the stuff we’ve packed away? Probably. There’s a foot spa packed up there somewhere that’s only been used once in all the years we’ve had it but it still got placed on the ‘well, you never know, we might use it someday’ pile.

If nothing else, at least the tenants moving into our house can be happy to know they now have the most insulated roof in north London, although with it comes the risk of forty tonnes of photo frames crashing through the floorboards and crushing them all to death.

Finally, after several weeks of humping all this stuff up a step ladder and into the TARDIS that is our loft, I just had enough time to pack my own rucksack with a year’s worth of clothes and equipment. Here’s what I came up with:

• A week to ten days’ worth of pants and socks (including lucky pants for when Arsenal play in the FA Cup)
• 2 trousers (1 smart(ish))
• 2 shirts (1 short sleeved, 1 long sleeved)
• 1 pair shorts
• 2 swimming shorts
• 1 lightweight fleece
• 3 base layers (to share with Sara because she’ll complain of the cold at some point)
• 1 waterproof mac in a pack
• 1 waterproof rucksack cover
• 1 large travel towel
• 1 silk liner
• 1 travel adapter
• 1 plug socket multiplier to charge multiple items
• Money belt
• Notebook
• Acer Aspire One Notebook Computer (previously trodden on and forgot about for years until fixed up for the trip. Uselessness of it means I’m not so worried if it gets stolen)
• Toiletries & medical bag (can’t be bothered listing everything here)
• Sunglasses
• Mosquito coils
• Ear plugs (Sara snores I may be sharing hostel rooms with people who snore)
• Phone and spare battery
• Wind up torch
• Sandals
• Trainers
• Razor
• Eye mask


I will probably have to re-pack, dump stuff and buy other stuff along the way, but for now, that’s me for the year.

Oh yeah, passport! Knew I forgot something.


Posted by JonAndSara 22:08 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged packing trip_preparation Comments (1)

Some thoughts on the big trip!

Eek - by Sara

OK so I'm not a big writer, never have been! Always been better with my hands rather than with my head! This is not news to most people! But then again I've never had anything really interesting to write about. This was Jon's idea to start a blog, but I'm going to embrace it and see it as another new experience! So bare with me while I give it a go. I will apologise now for my terrible grammar and spelling!

As I have spent the last 4 months planning this big trip I have been a. enjoying the planning and b. getting extremely excited about this big change in our lives and the new experiences we are about to take on. However as the trip gets closer and closer I have begun to feel worried and even a little scared. This is new to me as I usually jump into any new experiences with optimism, excitement and impatients! Why, I wonder to myself , am I feeling scared?! Yes this is a massive life change and yes I'm jumping into a world of unknown, but it's me, I don't get scared! Hopefully when I board the plane to Sri Lanka on Monday evening it will all disappear and I'll be strong again. Let's wait and see....

I'm sitting here procrastinating as there are a million things to do before we leave. Why am I procrastinating?? Maybe it's because of the above, do I not want to go? Don't be silly Sara of course you want to go because the idea of the alternative scares me even more!!! Staying in my suburban London life, doing my 9-5 stress filled job, going to the super market, cleaning the house, week after week after week is a depressing thought to me!! I am aware this is an unusual look on life as so many people live that life and are extremely happy, and there is nothing wrong with that! But it's just not for me. So going back to my procrastination, maybe I'm just lazy! It is a very plausible reason!

This afternoon I am going back into my work place for the last time, however today I don't have my usual feeling about work (is it going to be an OK day today or am I going to get 200 emails from any of the 3 factories around the world shouting, I need this, why is this not happening, who made this mistake?, your production is delayed, we forgot to place your hanger order and it's going to cost 5k to get the hangers to the UK in time for delivery!! It goes on and on!! Or will the system crash and I need to deal with our Israel IT department which is a whole other world of hell in its self!! No, this afternoon I'm going in with happiness as I am going to say farewell to the wonderful friends I have made in my time there. I will always say that the people in that company are one in a million, the best team in London!

Ok, now I am going to get up off my lazy ass and start sorting out the cupboard under the stairs!!! Or maybe I'll just wonder round for 10 minutes and then watch homes under the hammer........

Posted by JonAndSara 05:25 Comments (0)

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