Christmas with the Blakeys

So again apologies that this is a little later than it should be, but desert islands don’t have very good internet!!! We are now stationed in Bangkok, in a lovely Hostel which is only 2 months old, so everything is brand new. We also have a roof top infinity style pool which is just fantastic, so whilst lazing around here have managed to catch up with the blog and download all the photos. I will try and keep this one brief (ish) as I realise the last one was a little long – but it did cover 6 places and about 5 weeks of travelling and you know how I like to waffle.


Let’s start by wishing everyone A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Well, what a fantastic Christmas we had, with fantastic weather, food and company.  We arrived in Colombo, Sri Lanka 12 hours prior to mum and dad so managed to land a great deal to go to a local hotel with pool for a meer 20 quid rather than spend the 12 hours in the airport. Despite it pissing down with rain, the temperature was lovely and we relaxed by the pool in the rain.

Columbo stopover4  

Met up with mum and dad at the airport at about 3 am so we were all knackered, but very pleased to see each other.  Were supposed to have transport waiting for us from the villa, but there was no-one there. Dad made several irate phone calls and cursed and swore a lot before we decided just to get a taxi.

Taxi left the airport and headed off on our 4 hour trip to Galle. Roads were similar to that in India and although we were used to the driving skills (or lack of) poor mum and dad got the fright of their lives en route. Colombo was dirty and poor, which was not what we expected and again more similar to India than we had thought and again I think poor mum and dad were wondering what they were letting themselves in for. However our taxi man was a careful driver and I think they felt safe-ish!! Had an unfortunate toilet stop on the way and mum got to see with her own eyes the sanitation that we had been subjected to for the last few months and I think she was ready to get back on the plane at this point!!!

Anyway travelled down the Galle road and never really left civilisation, meandering from village to village. As we got further along, towards Bentota the evidence of the damage caused by the Tsunami was very apparent. Many houses remained severely damaged and with the sea just metres from the roadside it was apparent what damage a big wave could cause. The railway also lay within metres of the coast line and apparently had been completely destroyed. It was quite heart rendering to see so much destruction remaining, nearly 2 years later.

 Tsunami damage2Sunk boat2

Anyway we eventually arrived in Galle, which unfortunately, on first impressions didn’t look much better than Colombo. We were staying in the Galle fort, built by the Dutch, a walled village by the sea.

 Galle Fort1 Galle Fort2

After driving round a bit we eventually found our villa which didn’t look much from the outside and were greeted by Ari, one of our three “house boys”.

 Orchard House       Last supper at the Orchard

Well what a shock when he opened the doors onto this beautiful high ceiling atrium, complete with fountain and white walls and floors.

 Orchard House Hall Orchard House Lounge

The rest of the villa was equally as stunning and we had four bedrooms (all en suite) between the four of us. All the bedrooms were off an enclosed garden with a covered patio area and swimming pool.

 Inside the Palace1 Inside the Palace2 Inside the Palace4  Orchard House spare room

The boys explained that they would cater to our every need (there was even a bell by the pool to ring if we wanted anything!) Ari asked what we would like for dinner and explained that he would go and get it and Malake, the Chef, would prepare anything for us (heaven).

So first few days were pissing down with rain, which meant mum and dad could catch up on their sleep and we basically all lazed around, reading books and indulging in the 3 meals a day, all beautifully prepared and presented by the boys. Each night they had different plates and napkin arrangements.

 Xmas tree in boat

Managed to get down to a local beach on a couple of occasions, called Unawatuna, when it wasn’t raining and went off to do some snorkelling.  Were constantly entertained on the beach, by the local dogs fighting and running in and out of the sea.

Doggy diggin' Pete, Jackie and Rex 

So Christmas day came and we had decided to go to a local hotel for dinner (lobster & turkey). Awoke to find a small heap of pressies outside our door (Santa found us) and sat and had breakfast whilst undoing our gifts. The boys again didn’t fail to impress and turned up with little presents for us and garlands for round our necks.

 Xmas brekkieXmas necklaces

We bought dad a local sarong that the men wear here which was most amusing, watching him and Al try it on. 

 Als Xmas outfit Santa Claus

The boys had also made a bamboo Christmas tree in the lounge.


Dinner was fab and we met the Browns, old friends my mum’s sister knows in the hotel so they joined in the merriment.

HPIM0152 Carrot bell end

Day after Boxing Day we left Orchard House, to head on safari. Jay (our safari guide) came and collected us early doors and we headed off on the 4 hour drive to Udawalawe National Park (our home for the next 2 nights). Scenery much better along the way and got to see some beautiful coast line and stick fisherman!

Sri Lankan pole fishermen 

Approaching the park we were immediately confronted by an elephant, who was at the side of the road behind the fence.

 oooo shit

Apparently he’s there most days as there’s a sugar plantation opposite and he’s trying to get to the sugar cane. We then entered the park and headed off to camp. Along route we saw about another 20 elephants along with a play fight between some of the boys and were all enthralled by these ancient, docile and truly wonderful beasts.

Wallowers Timber...

Give way Elephants scrapin'

Camp was right in the middle of the park and more luxurious than we had expected. Had our own little area with table and chairs set up, overlooking the nearby river and our own toilet and shower.

Sight of lunch table Our billet

Lunchtime in the Jungle Wheres the desert

Again we had chefs catering to our every whim and were truly spoilt with all the food and booze we could consume. Apparently wildlife occasionally comes into the camp and last week a elephant had walked through. They also told us that the river was crocodile infested but that didn’t stop Al taking a bath!!

croc fodder 

Over the next two days we saw around 120 elephants, some eating, some playing, some charging at us and most of them just staring!

Sarahs elephant2  Is it gone yet

Thats a big mammal... 

On the last day we stopped off at the top of a reservoir and had drinks over looking the lakes.

 The ReidBlakey herd

Dad went for a pee behind a bush and came back out saying “there’s an elephant behind here”. Needless to say none of us believed him, but as we went round the bush and there he was, probably only 10 feet away. All retreated back to the car as apparently he was not a happy chappy!! Saw a ton of different and varied animals, including flying peacocks,

 Plastic peacock

crocodiles, geckos, jungle fowl, birds of prey, wild boars, deer and much more. It was fantastic. We also got to go down to the elephant transit camp where all the orphan babies are. We watched feeding time, which consisted of a funnel of milk being poured into the mouths and lots of shouting and pushing and sneaking in for seconds.


Was hilarious!! Mum and dad donated some money for some more milk for the little guys. Whole experience was unique and we all take away some fab memories.

After day 2 it was time to move on again and it was back to Colombo airport, destination Maldives. After a hairy ride to the airport we got there to discover plane later than thought and had to sit around for a while. Eventually boarded and headed off. Arrived into Male airport at dusk, so could just make out that the runway and airport were all that made up the island, with sea at the start and end of the runway (scary).


We then got a boat over to a nearby hotel to spend the night, as there were no sea planes at night, to go to our island. Arrived in hotel and were all exhausted so decided to go get some food. Much to our horror we were informed that the island was alcohol free (Muslim) and we would have to stick to milkshake or coke!!! (Thank God we’re leaving here tomorrow).

Early start the next day and it was off on the sea plane to our island Ellaidhoo.

Water taxis Ellaidhoo island2

What an experience the take off was a little bumpy over the waves, but the view was stunning of all the little islands (atolls) and crystal clear sea.

 Flight to Ellaidhoo3 

Arrived at our island and the sea plane pulled up at a little jetty then it was a quick boat ride to the island. Beautiful. The island was only 330m by 250m and had 95 rooms, communal bar and big buffet style restaurant. Had two rooms next to each other (bungalows) overlooking the sea.


Spent 9 glorious days on the island where the temperature did not fall below about 30 degrees and there was hardly a cloud to be seen.

 HPIM0337 HPIM0277


Al and I managed to complete our PADI course and became fully fledged divers. I had a few problems initially with fear of mask removal and depth but eventually got it. We ended up doing 7 dives, two of which my dad joined in. The fish and visibility were fantastic, even snorkelling around the island gave you a view of hundres of fish and beautiful coral.

Al and I did two dives which were superb. One to a wreck which had been sunk nearby and one to a reef. At the wreck we saw amazing fish and the boat was totally covered in coral and at the second dive site we swam with grey reef sharks, which although a little scary was fantastic. We also saw countless clown fish, angel fish and a turtle. Was like it was raining fish.

Spent New Years Eve eating and drinking and sat by the sea and there were small fireworks to invite the new year in (not quite George square!!). At 12:00 all the mad ones jumped in the sea and swam about with the fishes.

New Years Eve preparations 

Whats the fu@k Happy New Year 2007

The next night was crab racing and Al and I chose a speedy looking fellow (number 17) that we named flash. The idea was whoever got out the circle first - won!! Our crab suddenly got shy and stayed in his shell till almost the end and came in last (well done Flash).

No17 'Flash' Crab racing arena

Towards the end of the week we were bored with buffet so had a gourmet meal of prawns for everyone accept me who had chicken, by the sea.

HPIM0301  HPIM0300

With musical entertainement from a Sri Lankan band…


Whilst we were eating some cheeky sting rays came up close looking for a spare prawn!!

HPIM0294 Steve Irwin Nemesis3

On our last night Sylvia, from the dive school thought we could do with an initiation ceremony, now we were divers. So she blindfolded us with blacked out masks (to simulate night diving),


lead us around on a chase for our beers (search and recover)


and then made us down the beers through our snorkels (very gracefull).

 HPIM0330 HPIM0331

Was great fun though and caused much amusement for all those watching. We were just glad we didn’t end up in the sea, but were still smiling at the end!!


So the next day  it was off again and we said bye bye to the island..

  Me, her and the harbour

Again got sea plane back to Male, then waited on plane back to Sri Lanka. Our plane to Thailand wasn’t till 07:30 and mum and dad’s was suppose to be at 02:30 but got delayed till 06:00 so we got to spend a few more hours with them playing shithead and hanging out aat the airport. Had a tearful fairwell when they were called to board and off they went. We waited as little longer then boarded our flight to Bankok, absolutely shattered.

We just want to say a big thankyou at this point, in particular to my mum and dad for a fabulous time over the festive period, it was lovely to spend some quality time with you both and thanks for all your generosity. Also thanks to everyone else who sent us Christmas and New Year messages, it’s great to hear from you and we appreciate that you are thinking of us. So thanks to everyone…..

 After a week here chilling, we are off to Vietnam, Hanoi on Friday for a couple of weeks and if we can get an extended Thai visa will come back here for 2 months. Will update again soon when further adventures have occured…



20 Responses to “Christmas with the Blakeys”



Posted on January 19th, 2007.

Doogle and Karen said:

Fat Al and Sarah

What can I say, after many months of deep therapy, I’ve finally put the green-eyed monster to bed and plucked up the courage to drop you guys an email.

I must say there is a lot of which we should be envious. As we are sitting here braving the shitty English weather, you are living large on our wedding cash - good stuff folks!!

Obviously every day to you at the moment is a new world… fantastic, and its great to see that you’re showing off.. eh I mean sharing it with us… and letting us see that you’re spreading the word of the weggie round the world. Particular enjoyed fat Al going into a McDonalds and being upset when he was presented with a menu without beef - did u threaten to “bottle the staff” afterwards per chance?! I have to say though, I was disappointed to see the pictures from Everest - I was very must expecting ‘la grosse alvinda’ to mount the frontier sporting, reebok classics, inappropriate jodhpurs (leaving nothing to the imagination) and purple puffa!

..aside from this, I must say I’m very much enjoying the blog Sarah (principle author no doubt, otherwise every thing would be in CAPS).

I notice that this week you’ll be heading off the Vietnam, Hanoi in particular perhaps. Although tips from fellow travels will be abundant, and perhaps over the top at the times (general know it all hippy bastards), I would suggest two things (maybe three): firstly the food in hanoi is superior save for the comedy Vietnamese national French baguette - whose primary constituent is air; secondly if the get the chance to do some trekking in Sapa - go for it, you may even pick yourself up a second (14 year old) wife - there is the prospect of 12hrs on a commi train right enough, but I’m sure you’ll be well weathered to that now!; thirdly, get up early doors (5-6ish) and go do stretching with the old folks out by the central lake to the tunes pumping out from 70’s styleee PAs strapped to trees all around the place - and they say Charlie is moving forward!

Anyways, enough emailing for now (baby steps folks).. looking forward to more tales of skits and beers in due course!

Over and out fat man and robin!
Doogle and Karen

p.s. how much to do u miss square sausage yet?

Posted on January 19th, 2007.

Dooch said:

Just for everyones information:

Dougie used to be fat!

Posted on January 19th, 2007.

Doogie -slim-fat champ '99 said:

… Dooch.. stroke the Gooch.. put your pains to rest…

However, I do accept Dooch’s very valid point about my previous incarnation as a chubby bunny. I was indeed no stranger to a pie supper.

Doogie, who’s your daddy?

Posted on January 19th, 2007.

Iain said:

This telephone tennis is getting ridiculous!! U call me and leave a message… then I do the same (are u even receiving my messages??).
Heading to Sharpy’s new hoose 2morro!! Think Mtv are coming to shoot CRIBS at the same time. xx

Posted on January 26th, 2007.

The Bullocks said:

Hiya Sarah and Al
We are loving hearing about your adventures. Glad you had a (well deserved) chilled out christmas and new year. You both look fantastic. Thinking about a wee trek up everest myself to shift some of this baby weight. What do you think ??
Take care and happy happy new year.
With love Linds and Mark xx Big hugs and kisses Sam and katy xx

Posted on January 26th, 2007.

ray said:

Hello Reids where is ya next update??? Im downunder at mo its bloody beautiful mate.Looking forward too seeing you in “FUCK -IT” for Sarah’s 30th…Speak soon

Posted on February 8th, 2007.

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