A Travellerspoint blog

Unawatuna


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Unawatuna was devestated by the Tsunami in 2004, and when the locals started to rebuild they went against government advice and built the hotels, guesthouses and restaurants right on the beach, close to the sea in an effort to secure the best view for the tourists. The result is a shallow beach taken up by deckchairs and tables rather than stretches of sand down to the water. Despite this, the beach is beautiful, and unlike many of the other beaches in Sri Lanka it is possible to swim in the calm turquoise water. We sat and had a few beers discussing how we would re-organise it if we lived here!

Over the next few days we enjoyed the beach, spending our time drinking Ceylon tea in the many beachside restaurants, swimming in the sea and window shopping along the beach road.

We woke up on friday morning, had a coconut roti piled high with fruit and walked up to Karina's cooking class for 11am. We heard Karina first, her peel of infectious laughter greeting us and together with the rest of the group went to Galle market. In between weighing up the vegetables for the cooking later, we were introduced to some of the local vegetables including banana flowers, lotus flower roots and mooli. We squeezed into the spice stall where our eyes watered from inhaling the various local spices and then onto the fish market where our chosen tuna steaks were macheted to size and packed in plastic bags. Back in Karina's kitchen we were in food heaven, and over the next two hours we cooked up an aubergine pickle, pumpkin curry, coconut samba, fish curry and green bean curry. Too much food for the eight of us to eat but we sat down and tried.

More window shopping, and we somehow found the beautiful sparkling gems behind the glass pulled us into the shops and fueled by a few beers spent well over our travelling budget! Later in the afternoon we made it over to Galle fort walking up along the ramparts, being saturday it was busy, the tiny beach areas cramped with families bathing fully dressed and several different sports being played including hockey, cricket and football all with good audience participation. We dropped down through the colonial style streets trying to avoid the expensive looking jewelry shops and past the old dutch hospital, watching the warm glow of the sunset over the buildings.

Jane

Posted by gonetravelling 17:26 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged beaches fort unawatuna Comments (0)

Mirissa


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The guesthouses in Mirissa were more expensive that we imagined, and we spent an hour walking along the beach road trying to find somewhere that had wifi for under 3000rps (£15) a night and by the time we found the Nissan Guesthouse we were in need of a shower and a beer. We tucked into some lunch and strolled along the soft, fine sand of Mirissa beach. At the far end was a lookout island and we climbed up to see the other coves around the bays and the small stretch of Mirissa beach, packed with small dots of tourists.

There is no ATM in Mirissa and so we caught the local bus to Weligana, had a quick Kothu dinner before heading back to find a beach bar with happy hour although with another early start for the whale watching the following morning we didn't order too many cocktails!

The tuk tuk picked us up at 6am and we headed to Mirissa harbor, busy with fishermen weighing in their catch and haggling for prices. Our boat seemed quite big when we climbed aboard in the harbor but by the time we were out in the inky blue Indian Ocean it felt insignificant in the rising and falling waves. This free roller coaster ride kept us awake and entertained until we saw our first pod of dolphins, with a mother and baby jumping side by side through the waves. Stood right at the front on the boat holding tightly to the handrails we could see occasional flying fish alongside the boat. It also gave us a good view for the 6 blue whale sightings, one quite close to the boat where the waves dipped and the whale rose out of the water at just the right moment and we could see the glossy length of his body, and tail disappearing under the water, amazing.

Jane

Posted by gonetravelling 08:40 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged mirissa Comments (0)

Tangalle


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Tangalle beach is in many top ten beaches of the world lists so we couldn't resist taking a look. Getting off the bus a local immediately directed us down a road where all the guest houses were located. It was already getting very hot so it didn't take too long before we settled on one close to town and the beach. Andrew and Caroline had said it was windy but we weren't prepared for the gale force winds that were coming off the sea. Swimming was out of the question as the waves looked ferocious and the currents too strong.
Spent our time strolling along the picturesque beach, fighting against the strong winds and stopping often for tea at the many beach shacks that dotted the beach. The beach was spectacular, classic white sand and palm trees, with hardly another soul in sight. We found an excellent restaurant one afternoon that served wine so promised each other that we would return for dinner and a glass or two of wine. Returning that evening seemed to take hours and it was only the thought of a much needed glass of wine that kept us both going. Had a simple meal of veg fried rice and a couple of glasses of wine whilst gazing up at the stars. Couldn't muster the energy to walk all the way back so hailed a tuk tuk back into town and promptly fell fast asleep!

James

Posted by gonetravelling 05:20 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged beach waves tree sand sri lanka palm wind tangalle Comments (0)

Uda Walawe


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We set off for Embilipitiya, having read it was a good base for the safari in Uda Walawe national park. Stupidly thought there would be guest houses lining the roadside and seeing none on the way into town we opted to jump on another bus to Uda Walawe town Hoping we would have more luck. We got chatting to stocky chap on the bus and it just so happened that he had a hotel that was 'nice and cheap', only a 'short distance' from town, and he could also sort out the safari too. It seemed a little too good to be true but we were both tired from the early start and Jane was suffering from a cold she had picked up off the English couple staying at Ali's. After a tuk tuk ride into the middle of nowhere we came to the hotel that had a good setting. The bedding was dirty and the prices for food were steep (stuck out there they could charge what they liked). Reluctantly we took it as we were too tired to look elsewhere.
Thankfully we opted for an afternoon safari so had a bit of a lie in, laughing at how the shower was simply a hosepipe plastered into the wall. The jeep was similar to the one in Yalla with massive comfy seats. We chatted to lovely Australian couple, Andrew and Caroline about each other’s travel plans and stories. Uda Walawe was much more open scrubland than Yalla with fewer watering holes. We spent the first hour looking but not seeing much wildlife, although our guide did say it was probably still too hot in the day and not to worry as we would see lots later. Rolf, our other companion, was soon getting very excited if anything was spotted, blue winged bee-eaters, fish eagles, alligators. We did catch a glimpse of a lone bull elephant although he was well hidden in the scrubland. It was nice that we seemed to be the only Jeep in the park, especially compared to the multitude that was Yalla. We pulled up to the edge of reservoir and you could sense the elephants were close by. Just on the other side of a small inlet stood a herd of about 12 elephants, including several juveniles and a little baby. It was magical to see them in their natural habitat, happily scuffing up grass with their feet and expertly scooping it up into their mouths with their trunks. We edged closer until you could reach out and almost touch them. After about half an hour we waved goodbye to the herd and headed back inland spotting more alligators sunning themselves in the early evening sun. We finished off the day with another mouthwatering rice and curry joined by Rolf, Andrew and Caroline.

James

Posted by gonetravelling 05:17 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged elephants safari aligators uda walawe Comments (0)

Tissamaharama


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A tuk tuk brought us to the Mihisara Lake View Guesthouse where we liked the look of the comfortable room and access to a washing line. We spent the remainder of the day catching up with our laundry and generally organising ourselves ready for another early start for the safari the following day.
We were sat in the 6-seater jeep for 5am along with two other french couples who kept to themselves. We bounced around on the back seats clutching our packed breakfast for the hour drive to Yala National Park. On entering the park we joined a backlog of jeeps, there was a lot of finger pointing and excited shouts with people straining to see into the distance. As our jeep edged closer we could see perched on the rocks, a leopard staring off into the ocean. We sat for 5 minutes watching him and once he disappeared behind some rocks the jeeps scattered following different paths.

The jeep bounced along the dusty tracks for the next few hours pausing from time to time so we could see monitor lizards, mongoose, wild tortoise, peacocks, wild boar, 2 types of eagles, crocodiles, monkeys and one lone bull elephant. At 9am the jeep pulled up by the beach so we could eat our packed lunch and admire the deserted coastline. The threatening clouds above us soon turned to heavy rain and the side covers of the jeep were quickly rolled down, after half an hour it had cleared and the jeep had paused by a group of female elephants with a young calf. There was also another near sighting of a leopard although, all of us holding our breath, we must have missed it by seconds.

Jane

Posted by gonetravelling 17:30 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged tissamaharama Comments (0)

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