Celebrating in Sri Lanka

December was a big month for us! We celebrated our 5 year anniversary two days after Christmas 🙂 Sri Lanka is a direct 5.5-hour flight from Kuwait – the perfect distance for 2 weeks of exploring! It also has a variety of landscapes and is quite cheap.

We started with a few days in Kandy. We did some sight-seeing and convinced our driver that we wanted to eat where the locals eat. Highlights: bottle feeding elephants at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, the botanical gardens, Kandyan dancing, and sipping on drinks while enjoying the view from our hotel.

Then we moved on to Ambalangoda…with Patrick and Ashley! Although it was our first Christmas away from ‘home,’ we still had family with us and loved every minute. Our daily routine: homemade 3-course breakfast, beach, snacks w/ drinks and cards and then a homemade rice and curry dinner. The owner of the house we stayed at was a wonderful cook and we ate like royalty. My mouth is watering just thinking about the food! Highlights: beach, food, relaxing & chillin’ w/ Patrick & Ashley, riding in tuk tuks, river safari, turtle farm/hatchery, riding the train, beach and FOOD (always eating with our hands of course!)!

our Christmas tree!

We ventured to Hikkaduwa by train one day and explored Galle and Unawatuna another.

Hikkaduwa

Galle

After we said bon voyage to Patrick and Ashley, Jeff and I headed to the mountains and tea country (Haputale) for a quiet New Year. We were reunited with Dama (our driver) and found as many hole-in-the-wall Sinhalese restaurants as possible. Pure bliss. Highlights: miles and miles of tea, drinks and learning about cricket with Dama and hiking.

Lipton's Seat

We had the pleasure of eating with Dama’s sister and her family twice. We could have stayed forever drinking tea, hanging with locals and eating homemade Sri Lankan food!

We loved Sri Lanka so much we almost went back for an impromptu visit in February. But we didn’t get any additional days off school and decided to stay in Kuwait (more on that later too).

Hopefully they’ll be a blog post coming soon from Jeff with ‘Our Guide’ to Sri Lanka. Until then, here’s all our pictures!

Kandy
Ambalangoda
Haputale
Sri Lanka iPhone
FOOD!

Al Corniche – worth it? You bet!

One of the options during our first week here was to tour Al Corniche Resort & Spa. We had heard that many teachers joined the ‘resort & spa’ for a variety of reasons including access to the gym and private beach. We were pretty confident we were going to join, but we were taken aback by the price. AND our athletic director got us a pretty good deal (I advice against doing the math, I about choked) – 950KD for a couple for a 1 year membership with the possibility to put it hold for up to 2 months. This price probably sounds exorbitant to you (and it did to me too after belonging to Gold’s for $30/month). I won’t even talk about all the extra services that you pay for (spa, restaurants, cabanas, premium membership, guest passes…). But…let me tell you about it and maybe I can change your mind like mine was 🙂

Al Corniche is a 15-20 minute walk from our apartment. On our way, we pass our favorite grocery store so we often hit the store on the way back if needed. When we get to the parking lot, we routinely walk past fabulous & beautiful cars – Porsche, Ferrari, Mazarati, Aston Martin (who needs BMW & Mercedes?). Going in the front doors, we walk on glass over water – their own private moat! I’ve never once touched the front door as there is always a security guard who holds it open for us. After scanning our membership cards, the lobby has shopping, restaurants (frozen yogurt, a cafe, sit-down), the entrance to the spa (Jeff received a free massage w/ membership and I’ll get a facial) and comfy couches where you can hang out in the AC and use the Wi-Fi. Last week Jeff signed up with Porsche to attend a test drive event coming up soon. You can go outside to the pool (31 C all year round with a lap pool), ‘cold’ tub (like a hot tub but cold water!), beach, green-space, cabanas and kiddy pool (did I mention there is wi-fi outside too?). From the lobby you can also go down to the squash & tennis courts (members can play anytime). The locker rooms are downstairs and can be accessed from the pool as well. There are lockers, showers, a sauna. Upstairs is the gym with 2 rooms for classes and a large space with all the equipment you could need. Although personal trainers are extra, you do get a ‘Meet the Trainer’ session with a fitness trainer to talk about your goals, do all your measurements and help create a plan. I’ve loved classes for the last couple of years, but this place takes it to a whole new level. There are multiple classes a day that I wish I had time to go to (including Les Mills classes!). In the bigger of the two rooms, both outside walls are floor to ceiling glass so you can look out over the Gulf and Kuwait city while you sweat. The outside walls of the main gym are also glass so you can look out over the pool, Gulf & City while you get your aerobic & weights on.

Jeff and I have been members for 16 days. Of those 16 days, we’ve gone to the gym 14 of them. Although there are quite a few teachers from AIS that belong, it’s also nice to see some different faces. We thought about joining a different gym, but there are no other gyms within walking distance (read: pay for taxi) and they aren’t much cheaper either. Al Corniche just went through some significant renovations (so don’t look at too many of the pictures on their website) and is beautiful!

Lastly, between working out, eating better and not drinking on a daily basis, Jeff and I have lost a combined 14lbs in the 3.5 weeks since we’ve moved here. We’ve really enjoyed having somewhere to go besides school and our (mostly) empty apartment. Here’s a quick video I took while walking on the treadmill the other day…

 

Update: Al Corniche posted some pictures on their Facebook page…thought you’d enjoy seeing where we spend a lot of our time 😉

Sample weekend

Lots of people are curious about what our weekends might look like. While chasing camels and fighting our way through sandstorms may sound glamorous, we have yet to do either. Here’s what Friday looked like:

10am – woke up
11am – willingly subjected ourselves to Bodypump at our new gym. Ouch.
12pm – staggered to some couches in the lobby and surfed the net for an hour.
2pm – met up with friends to taxi to one of the malls nearby.
5pm – geocached our first international hide
6pm – grabbed a few things from the grocery store on our way home
7pm – made and subsequently ate fantastic pizza on leftover Iranian bread.


Saturday

8am – woke up
8:45am – hailed a cab and went to the Grand Mosque
9:15-11:30 – toured the Grand Mosque
12pm – cabbed back, had lunch w/ a friend (hummus w/ veggies & bread)
1pm-4:30 – spent the afternoon on the beach at the club.
5pm – grocery shopped.
6pm – made dinner.

It was an awesome weekend, one we hope to repeat many times over. I guess when you think about it, some of the things we did we couldn’t have done in the US, for better or worse. Either way, for those of you thinking we’re spending the next few years in some third-world country, rest assured we are not 🙂

Update (from Lissa): if you didn’t notice, our weekends in Kuwait are Friday & Saturday. Friday is the holy day in Muslim culture (like Sunday for Christians) so naturally they have the day off. After living in culture with Saturday/Sunday weekends for 27+ years, this change has completely screwed up my sense of time. I usually have no idea what day it is and how many more days til the weekend comes:)