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Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Walatta House

For 14 blissful days, we moved into our very own - The Walatta House, in Tangalle, Sri Lanka. Weeks before the trip, I was close to melt down mode. Trying to get things done like power and curtains is not easy while one's thousands of miles away. Still, we knew that we had a roof, floors, doors and working toilets and the Amanwella next door so if things did fall apart, it would not be a complete disaster.

We have been here before, just two months ago. When we invited friends from the UK including their 3 kids, to stay with us at the house. The contractors had promised us a finished product on 20th December, but it never happened. S, an UK based interior designer, who is T's old flatmate in HK back in the 90s, was braving the trip again. This time sans kids and husband. She has seen the house in December and was coming back this time to help us with decorating the house. She lugged 15 metres of upholstery fabric for us and some lights, bless her.

I had bought these for some of the bathrooms. Kartell's E Wall Sconce.

We looked on Designers Guild website and swooned over the infinite gorgeous fabrics but finally decided on  Glenville's distressed velvet in Sea mist and Zinc.

We had brought along 140kg of luggage. From Doha, we bought outdoor lights, feather pillows, audio equipment and even a coffee machine. Luckily customs didn't blink.

After being in the air for 5 hours, we got to Colombo at 3.30am and by the time we got out of the airport it was 5am. Baby Z was too excited to sleep on the plane so I had a sleepless night. I hoped that the long car trip ahead would lull him to sleep. The van came to pick us up with a baby seat for Z thankfully, and we were on the road! J, the architect who had been there for 2 days was just waking up and plans were made to meet for breakfast at Moonstone Villas.

R who runs Moonstone Villas, was a lovely Canadian who moved to SL about 4 years ago. She was working for a non profit group in the early days, and now runs her own B&B with a few locals as well.

After scoffing down some Srilankan omelettes and fresh coffee, we jumped back into the van to see our house. R came along too as she had heard so much from J that she wanted a peek.

The first approach didn't reveal much difference from what I saw a few months back but on closer inspection, we saw that the garden has been tended to. The indoor garden spaces now have some plants, not many but some.

 The doors had been installed and were rather impressive. The doors in the master bedroom were 3.5 metres tall and opened up to the ocean view. The pool was empty but being filled so that the pool guy could come and chlorinate it end of the week.

Once after we sniffed around the rooms, we had to get cracking. We still have no furniture, no beds only mattresses, no mirrors in bathrooms, no lights except bulbs hanging from exposed wires. No kitchen, no utensils, no refridgeration. Z was starting to yawn, the cot was nowhere in sight. Panic was starting to set in.

Everything was in boxes, stuffed in the worker's quarters. Some of these boxes came from KL where I got V to pack on my behalf and rest were things we have been bringing over ourselves in past trips. None of these boxes were labelled so all had to be opened. This room is dark, dank and I could see cobwebs and holes where rats had burrowed. Yikes! I did however managed to find some bedsheets yay.

T hunted the fridge down to a warehouse off site. It was to be delivered in few hours. Meanwhile T found the gas stove and gas cylinder that they had used to cook last month. He also showed me where he kept a cheap pan and some plastic cups and plates. I brought along some pre-packed Gerber toddler meals with me and heated those up for baby Z.

The cot was still nowhere in sight and after some frantic calls, found out that it was in the contractor's house! Someone promised to send that to us by the evening.

Z was hot and full and luckily was happy to fall asleep on N's lap. S, our tuk tuk driver came over and we hopped into to get into town for supplies. Town was 6 km away and there we would find a wet market, a single supermarket, several hardware shops and few more essential shops. The fridge had arrived by this time and I had to think about cooking for the next few days.I got some meat from the supermarket and bought the fresh produce from the local market. Local curd were sold in clay pots and I knew Z love them so bought one for breakfast the next day.

While I shopped, T went to the electricity board. We didn't have our own supply and were siphoning power from our neighbours because our guys were unable to get the power into the land.. I don't know how he did it but he got them to promise to come onto the land the next day to install electricity. With the little power, we could only run the fans and not the aircon which normally didn't matter but the hot Indian summer had set in and it was 90% humidity.

At the end of Day One, we managed to scrap together enough to make meals, sleep and shower.

It was a good day.

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