We left Australia early on Tuesday morning on AirAsia X D7 2703 and I must say we were treated like royalty in the premium seats.

It was a very smooth flight over to Kuala Lumpur and when we arrived we were positively surprised to see the new LCC Terminal. What a great job that has been done here. One of us visited a year ago and the improvement since is fantastic!

We met up with Flora and Derek from the AirAsia team that has been outstanding in their efforts to support us on this journey. Thanks guys!! Another special thanks to Sue, of the AAX team in Australia – thanks for the last minute tip, it has come in handy believe it or not.
Here are a few snaps we took on our way over.

Having arrived in Sri Lanka early on Wednesday morning we were greeted like royalty by the Sri Lanka Tourism Board at the airport with hand made flower leis.

The 30 minute drive to Club Dolphin Hotel in Waikkal offered some amazing sights. Not far from the airport we started seeing rickshaws everywhere and we started to realize that we are finally here…and what exactly it is we are in for.

At the hotel we were greeted by fantastically friendly staff and even though we arrived at 8 am our room stood ready for us. We took a walk around the massive hotel area and found the pool. It is not just any pool, Club Dolphin has the largest pool in Sri Lanka and yes, it is overlooking the ocean. Ever since we arrived we have had overcast skies, but we are blending in nicely with the other British guests after getting a good bit of colour on the first day. We took the opportunity to have an hour massage to really kick start the holiday mood. That naturally followed by cocktails near the pool. So far, it has been great.

Yesterday we decided to put on our adventure boots and head in to Colombo. After bargaining with the local taxi drivers for a good price we ended up catching a rickshaw to the Waikkal train station. In Waikkal we found out that the train was going to depart in a bit over an hour so we took a walk down the road to engage with the locals. At one of the roadside fruitstands we met a gentleman who firstly introduced us to the local delicacy of king coconuts – and the sweet coconut water inside. Having finished our drink he invited us to come and visit the denim dye factory he worked at. It was a very interesting experience for both us and them I am sure. Most of the orders come from the USA or the UK and the fabric arrive in Sri Lanka from China or Pakistan. Some garments are made here in Sri Lanka before ending up in the wash. We were taken through the entire process from dying, sandblasting and how patterns are made. Unfortunately Sri Lanka has also been exposed to the financial crisis and we heard mentioned that up to 40% of the workforce here has been affected. The factory had been forced to let go of as many as 20 staff as orders have been slow lately.

After our visit to the denim wash factory we walked back to the train station to do the 50kilometer ride to Colombo. The scenery outside the windows was quite diverse, and really put things into perspective. On the other hand, the children on the train thought we were quite exotic and a lot of smiles were exchanged over the next 2 hours. (insert pic 9)

Once in Colombo we walked around the city and after a long day under the sun we went to the Cinnamon Grand Hotel which we will be staying at the last few nights of our trip. We refreshed with a couple of cocktails before heading to Sayagiriya to attend a Rotary Dinner.

As part of the Lanka Challenge we have chosen to contribute funds towards Jaipur Limbs for people that have lost their limbs in landmines etc here in Sri Lanka as part of our chosen charity. In doing so, we have through a colleague been introduced to the Rotary Club of Capital City, in Colombo, to assist them in raising funds jointly with the Rotary Club Mermaid Beach on the Gold Coast. As it happened yesterday the Rotary Club of Capital City had their Installation Ceremony of the 9th President and we were kindly invited to join.

During the meeting there were presentations to the audience on what has been achieved by the club in the past year. We were amazed at what great a job these people are doing in their own country, and we are really looking forward to do our part. Once back in Colombo, towards the middle of the month, the Club will arrange for us to visit one of the factories where the limbs are made. That will definitely be the icing of the cake – we will keep you posted! Both Abbie and I feel privileged to have been invited to be part of the Installation Ceremony and send a warm thanks to the Rotary Club of Capital City for the fantastic hospitality. (Insert 10 and 11)

So, tomorrow is the day it all begins… FINALLY! We cannot wait to get on the road on Sunday morning but we are really looking forward to meeting all the teams tomorrow as we register and go for our first rickshaw driving lesson – stay tuned for photos which will be posted on Sunday.

All we can say is, we are so ready to get started and look forward to bringing you the best of stories and photos on the way.

Over and out for now

AirAsia Gypsy Queens