Wednesday, November 14, 2012

No piranhas!

As our loyal readers (we have those, right? Right? Guys?) may remember from the comments section of our very first post to this blog, my friend Casey recommended foot leeches. Ew.

Well, as we were preparing to leave Kandy for Galle in Sri Lanka (see Emily's most recent post), we realized that the name of the place she'd found us on AirBnB was the Leynbaan Villa and Fish Spa. We wondered, could this "Fish Spa" be the very same bizarre tradition my friend had encouraged us to partake in? Upon arrival, our suspicions (fears?) were confirmed:

That was that. OBVIOUSLY we were going to do this crazy thing if it was happening in the very lobby of our own guest house. We even got a discount!

But what IS a fish spa? Are they leeches? No, not exactly [citation needed]:
(Shoutout to Josh on this one)

I was actually pretty excited about this. Emily was ... not, but did it anyway, making the same face for the whole thirty minutes:

Then it was my turn. And you know what? I really, really liked it.

It's a weird feeling, to be sure. Hundreds of tiny sucker fish constantly moving around your feet and hands - and more, if you find the right establishment, but Emily was very firm on that point: extremities only.

So if you're ever in Sri Lanka, check it out! I wanted to do it in Bangkok, too (where it was even more inexpensive), but the "No piranhas" sign was a dealbreaker for Emily. I tried to convince her that the sign was a good thing, but she felt very strongly that the very fact that it needed to be explicitly mentioned meant that somewhere a piranha HAD made it into the water. So I can't give a firsthand recommendation for fish spas there ... yet.

Oh, by the way, Em's Flickr feed has more pictures! So if you want to see everything we've been able to upload, don't forget to check out her photostream. If you're particularly interested in Bangkok, she even set up a separate photoset.

The second half of our Sri Lanka stay

We are definitely behind on blogging. We're about to hit up our last country in southeast asia (the Philippines - our flight's tonight!) and we're still finishing up telling stories about our first stop.. I blame the slow internet connections (which make photos hard to upload) as well as the fascinating places we haven't been able to tear ourselves away from (Bangkok, Battambang, and Angkor Wat's temples...).

[update - we're actually already in Seattle: I wrote this post awhile ago but wanted to put photos in it before posting...phew!]

So here's some catch-up (Did someone say ketchup?? Bad joke. But really. I want some fries.):

After all the cool things we packed into Kandy [see Elephants Galore and We didn't JUST ride elephants], we took the train back thru the mountains early enough in the morning that the fog was still settling down into the valleys.

Our next stop was Galle, a fort town on the coast, but to get there by train we had to pass back through Colombo, which took quite a long time. The Colombo to Galle leg, however, passed right along the coast and at times we were maybe 10 feet from the ocean practically feeling the spray from the surf. So, overall, the views along the way made the early alarm and long travel worth it. 

When we got into Galle, we made our way into the fort and settled into our nice little guest house which was situated down one of the few small, picturesque (and very touristy) streets.

View from inside an adorable little cafe with pumpkin ginger soup!

We spent the first day doing what tourists do best - buying lots and lots of souvenirs. There was some really lovely stuff and it was just nice to get out and see the architecture around town since the fort was first built by Portugese colonizers around the 1600s, then extensively expanded by the Dutch about a century and a half later, then finally taken by the British at some point. Sorry for the fuzzy dates/history - we clearly learned a LOT in the tiny museum there....

For the architecture nerds:

Dutch style mosque?

The end of the first evening found us on the fort walls looking down into the ocean and marveling at the construction of the fort walls (at least 40ft tall all around the place). It was beautiful.

since that last one was pretty but gave no perspective on the height of these walls:

Lighthouse at the end of our street!

We then stopped for a drink as a ferocious looking storm rolled in (very Burkina) and we learned that Sri Lankan wine leaves much to be desired. As does its Irish beer. Go figure.

The next day I was really jonesin' for the ocean after that train ride, so we headed over to the bus station just outside the fort walls and took a quick, cheap bus to Unawatuna (tuk-tuk being unnecessarily pricey and us wanting to pretend to be locals or Peace Corps volunteers). 

On our way out to the water, we stopped at a fruit stand and picked over jackfruit, soursop and durian before finally settling on a half kilo of lychees to take with us to the beach as a snack. The beach was lovely with clear blue water and very gentle waves. Life in and around Galle was really hard, guys. 

[Next up: the Fish Spa experience...]

Thursday, November 8, 2012

We're abou to leave the Philippines!

Sorry for being offline, but we spent the whole time underwater, no internet there. More updates when we arrive in Hawaii tomorrow rwhich thanks to the international date line will still be today for us!).

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Even more photos!

Hello readers! Emily has decided that she is way too much of a baller to settle for a free Flickr account like I did, so we now have 200 more photos up, and hopefully will be able to put up even more tomorrow! Isn't living in the future great? Enjoy!

[Edit after publishing]Be advised that Flickr uploaded these photos in reverse order. The last in the set are actually from Emily's Peace Corps Close of Service ceremony.