61. The bigger the hotel, the fatter the guest.

Ten things I’ve learned on this Asian experience with my boy:

  1. Leopards are pretty scary when they’re strolling past your open top jeep and looking you in the eye
  2. It’s important to manually date stamp every form and ticket, preferably with some force
  3. The bigger the hotel, the fatter the guest
  4. Arabic women have the full black kit for swimming as well. They look like they’re going diving
  5. Optimal Cody is found between 4 and 10 in the blood sugar range. Any higher and his sweetness leaves the temple
  6. Buddhas still me like nothing else has ever been able to
  7. The world doesn’t end if my nails aren’t perfect
  8. When the sign says shut your balcony door as the monkeys are very cheeky and will steal from you, it’s true
  9. “Little bit spicy” can be loosely translated as “really fucking hot”
  10. The train will eventually come

59. My relationship with sand.

It’s complicated.

Not that we’ve broken up six times, then got married, then broke up again, then hooked up again or anything like that. But I’m never sure where I stand with sand.

I mean I love it, don’t get me wrong. Standing on sand means you’re not needed anywhere else in the main. You’re definitely not at work and you’re probably not in a hurry to do much but lie down.  It is most often attached to sea as well.  Most would call that a bonus.

We’ve just had three days at Bentota Beach on the South Coast of Sri Lanka, and twice a day I have skittered across the sand to get into the Indian Ocean where, surprisingly, I swam.  And swam.  It was warm you see.

I have spent years watching all the boys in my life throw themselves into the sea and onto the adjacent sand with abandon. I watch with envy and will myself to transform into Action Woman and join them. And I run in, I do, til the sea flirts with my butt, then I stand for a bit and say my goodbyes.  That’s what I do. I have done this perhaps five hundred times; each time I think it will be different than the last. It isn’t.

After my retreat, I begin the strange dance where I arrange the towel and try to mount it without sand accompanying me. I fail. Once I’ve failed, which I do every time of course, I sacrifice myself to the sand gods and just lie the fuck down.

At Bentota, my interaction with the sand was running across it to get to the warm sea.Like a chunky little gazelle I was, twice a day.

But now I’m back at Colombo, and it’s 1130pm I am sitting in front of Casa Colombo in a garden bar with a sand floor. Now this sand, this sand I am at one with. Hello my friend. Maybe I am destined to remain  a fascinating stranger to the beach, an action woman only in the city.

I am learning to make peace with it all.

Vodka and Soda,thanks, that would be great.


57. Bentota Bridge Club.

We have the makings of a sit-com right here on Bentota Beach, on the South Coast of Sri Lanka.

I met a man at yoga early yesterday morning. He was with an elegant female friend and they were the earnest ones in the back row. I was the slightly shambolic late arrival in the front row, alone. Damn, the punishment of a late entry.

Born in Sri Lanka, with many years living in New Zealand before taking up residency in the UK, Andy was at the resort for a month, one week down. A return guest, he told me he’s been coming since 69 when it first opened.  He comes for a month twice a year these days, to the same resort (and I hazard a guess at the same room) and this time he has a posy of British bridge players with him. They’re going to play bridge for a fortnight under the palm trees, with tables and straight backs and frightfully good manners and sensible summer frocks.

Turned out the lady friend lives around the corner from us in Auckland and had a pretty 14 year old daughter who was craving the company of someone her age.

Bye Mr Cody.

We joined Andy’s group for dinner, all pearls and insect repellant and beautiful bright British smiles. What a fabulous eccentric group, here to play cards in 32 degrees.  The posh British accents jostled for pole position, but no one could compete with Andy, the star of the show, the court jester, the compere, the host, the translator, and the local.  He’s probably Secretly Royal in England, but here he is so clearly King Andy. Long Live the King.

This is why I love to travel. Kindred spirits are attracted easily. Everyone has a vacancy for an adventure, a vacancy for a new friend, a new conversation, a memorable evening. The connections are strong but fleeting.

This morning we say goodbye to Bentota Beach, and King Andy, and the elegant lady from the neighborhood back home and the pretty fourteen year old and head back to Casa Colombo for a night.

I want to come back but I probably never will. Too many other countries yet to discover.

Bye Bentota Bridge Club. I know you have two weeks of competitive card playing ahead of you, but I reckon you’ve all already won.

54. Accommodating me.

This place smells. We’re staying at a place called Elephant Reach, or should that be Retch?  It’s not an unbearable smell, just kind of an eu de two star that permeates the sweet  jungle air.   I think it’s a combination of cheap motel soap (smells the same all over the world that I can tell) , cleaning products (I know, I know, I should be quietly grateful for this ingredient) and a thousand shedding bodies that have slept in this room before us.

I made a little promise to myself that we would mix up the accommodation this trip, and give Cody a broad overview of how that all works. What a stupid idea. To be honest, he’s coping with it better than me; there’s a pool Mum!

I have had my share of cheap gaffs, more than my share if I look back. And while there are many outstanding memories than remain from those travelling days, these days I’m more than happy to stash the cash pre departure and fund an extra star or two.

Cheap wine and a three day growth?  Don’t mind if I do. Cheap room? Not so much.

52. Does my bum look big on this?

Today we did what you do in Sri Lanka.   We went to an elephant orphanage, we rode on the back of one through the jungle and down a river bed, and we dodged the men hawking t shirts with an elephant’s bum on the front.   Does someone actually buy  these  tshirt? I guess they must.

I have a lot of time for an elephant. They’re so exceptionally big and they seem so, I don’t know,  so zen.

Still haven’t ridden a horse, but I’ve clamped my strong Southern thighs quite firmly onto the back on more than one elephant, a couple of camels, a donkey… oh god, I’d better stop there.

Giddy up cowboy.

45. Kia Ora Casa Colombo

I would have so much more money in the bank if I didn’t love hotels so much.   And I think this one I love the most.  But I have said that before.  I am that girl.

After an hour by taxi, hurtling through a sleeping city, we arrived at Casa Colombo, Sri Lanka around 3am. The boy was sleeping most of the way too.  I didn’t miss a moment though. I revelled in the chaos on the roads, the heat, the smells, the fact that I didn’t have a fucking clue where we were and it didn’t really matter.  Odd how frightened I am of planes and how gungho I am on a foreign highway full of kamikaze drivers with a man that doesn’t speak English taking me god only knows where.

That said, after the said hour I was happy to see the lane to the right of the mad dirty old highway. It seemed so full of promise and mystery.  Black and gold metal gates swung open and there she was welcoming only me, the glorious glowing 200-year-old mansion.  Once it was home to one of the wealthiest Indian trading families in the island. Now it is home to me and my boy, for a couple of nights at least.

Our room is splendid, really something special. We have a three metre copper bath to the left of the king-size sleeping platform. I had to have an immediate power soak on check in to celebrate, be damned that it was 3:30 in the morning. An ornately pressed ceiling floats loftily above intricate Indian tiled floors some eight metres below. Our own lounging area, sound system, desk with laptop (who has that, I mean really), glass walled bathroom (roller blinds for the modest) are all tied together by a skilled designer’s eye. Some of it shouldn’t really work and in a self-conscious boutique hotel in Darlinghurst it so wouldn’t. But here it does, and I can visualize myself taking a year off and writing the big story at the desk as I gaze out the colonial windows to the mango tree…

I think I’m in love. But don’t worry; I’ll get over it. Again.