The Chaaya Village Hotel, Habarana, Sri Lanka

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The Chaaya Village Hotel, Habarana, Sri Lanka

The Boutique at the Chaaya Village Hotel

Good Luck message at the Chaaya VillageBack at the hotel we get a lovely surprise in our rooms. The hotel has decorated the beds with flower petals and a good luck message.

Our second evening at Chaaya Village is an experience! We have an early start in the morning but Lisa and the children are keen to do a little more shopping at the small boutique on the hotel grounds. While the shop does contain some of the normal tourist items – postcards and the like, it is mainly a clothes boutique and although it is getting on to 8pm it is very much still open for business.

The boys and I quickly lose interest but I can see Lisa and Kate checking out some of the Silks that Sri Lankan women use for formal clothing. The lady serving is a delightful and extremely helpful lady in her late forties. Like many Sri Lankan ladies we seen so far she is petite and very friendly. As a result, in short order Kate is selecting material to try on as a sari. This is the slippery shopping slope! I am still wondering how much this is likely to cost as I see Kate step into the changing area and step out again with a simple black top on. She looks nervous as the assistant starts wrapping the material around her.

The material is a very long piece of beautiful red silk decorated with small attractive flowers. It is difficult to imagine what this it will look like and even more difficult to believe it will actually fit her. Since this first viewing I’ve seen a sari “created” several times but it is still a big mystery to me. There is so much material which is folded, tucked in at various places, draped and pinned all over. However, the result is truly magical, especially on a 12 year old girl. As the sales assistant steps back from her creation Kate is transformed from a casual young girl in her tourist gear to a stunning young oriental lady!

As you can imagine it is truly difficult to say no to buying clothes in this situation. The pressure and stress of doing so would be intolerable – not a great start to the holiday. And the reality is that the sari is stunning and because of its size will certainly last Kate a long time (perhaps her whole life). So it doesn’t take long to agree to the purchase (its not really a bartering kind of place) and make payment.

Walking out of the boutique several thousand Sri Lankan rupees later (the actual cost was about £40) we retire to the bar for a pre-dinner drink. While we’re sitting in the bar we are approached by a friendly if rather odd looking man who informs us that there is a magic show at 9.30. “Please stop by, please, please please”. I guess we’re not great at saying no and we don’t like to offend anyone so we say “yes, see you at 9.30” while all secretly planning an early night straight after dinner.

The Restaurant in the Chaaya Village Hotel

Walking into the restaurant is a bit of a shock. The restaurant is staffed by a crew of mainly male waiters and there is an audible intake of breath as Kate walk in wearing her sari. She is clearly the talk of the restaurant much to her embarrassment. Dinner is fantastic again and we’re quickly gaining a taste for Sri Lankan food. The hotel (as all the hotels we visited on the holiday) has an extensive buffet of mainly local food which means we can all pick and choose what we like best. Its interesting that in the UK we’d probably not eat something simply named “Lamb Curry” but I can honestly say that some of these “plain curries” are better than anything we’ve tasted at home.

After dinner we try and sneak through the bar but the magician is too quick for us. Dressed in his dinner jacket which is slightly too large for him he again informs us that the magic show is about to start and shows us to our seats. Now we have a real dilemma. Had we been sitting in the midst of a large crowd of eager tourist, looking forward to the evening’s entertainment then we would surely have sneaked away almost immediately. We’re all dog tired from the flight over still and the early morning start. However, right now, we’re the only people there. The only think more embarrassing that sitting watching the show by ourselves would probably be trying to walk away as the only audience. So we settle down and wait for the show.

The magician is very persistent and this is really our only hope. If he can use his determination and may be some of his magic skills to conjure up an audience then we could still make our escape. To his credit, he is pretty effective at persuading the few tourists in the restaurant to come and watch the show but even then we end up a sizeable minority of the total audience. No good – we’ve got to stay. Still its been a while since we saw a magic show and we are on holiday so this could be good……or not.

The show is fascinating if only because it seems like it is out of the dark ages. Our magician in his over-large DJ starts the tape on his ghetto blaster and gets to work on his magic. To be fair to him, the tricks are good. There is no question that we can “spot how he does it” but he could really use a different style and perhaps a bit more charisma. The worst thing is that because the audience is so small and because our magician friend is a fan of audience participation there is no escape from being drawn into the show directly.

The show drags on long past its best and by the end we’ve all had a go at holding ropes, checking metal rings and looking for false bottoms in various pieces of equipment. We gratefully clap the end of the performance (not too much – we don’t want to encourage and encore!) and quick retire to our rooms.