Sri Emerald in the Indian Ocean

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The Sea and much more

Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Friday, August 15, 2014

Sri Lanka,  Hikkaduwa

Our passion for travelling  took us to Sri Lanka  to explore the country intricately woven into India's mythology, history and geography .

  We boarded a 80seater Bombardier  on India's Independence Day ,the 15thAugust,2014. Spice-jet executives had decorated their counter with the tri-colours of green, white and saffron and offered sweets that were of the same colours. All passengers were given a sticker of the Indian flag . And that’s how we landed in Colombo , an airplane-load of patriotic Indians in their holiday best . The flight took off from Chennai like a sea-gull only to land  within 25minutes at Colombo's Bandarnaike International Airport.

Bee , my husband , has honed his skills in budget traveling . He takes a month or two to prepare his itinerary and the expenditure that entails. An excellent job he does of it , because every holiday has been comfortable and enjoyable, bringing us back with memories we will always cherish .

On landing in Colombo , we took the nearest tuk-tuk available who over- charged us with 1600 SL rupees The actual fee,we were told later, being 1300SL. But these anamolies are a part of the tourist package, especially in a developing country. There are taxis aplenty and buses too but we decided on a tuk-tuk. After an hours drive we reached the railway station .Bee, went looking for 1st class tickets to Hikkaduwa ,only to be told that there were no 1st class compartments ; therefore we settled for the second best option of buying two 2nd class tickets for 160SL a piece .

  Like all Sri Lankans , the guard at the gate was very polite and helpful and directed us to the right platform . Seeing the  huge crowd I almost decided against boarding the coach. There were no seats available for a good half an hour , therefore I perched myself on my baggage by a window . Hawkers selling goodies wound their way through the passengers doing brisk business.There were coconut slices , tamarind, local savories, cold drinks et el .  The passengers were well-mannered ,no jostling, pushing or pinching ; in fact one gentleman offered me his seat well ahead of his station.

Every shortfall of the train journey was made up by the scenery outside. The trained wound itself along the sea-coast of the Indian Ocean which was a sight to behold !!For 98 kms it was just "the sea, the sea , the beautiful sea"The cool breeze made the journey comfortable . We reached Hikkaduwa station after two and a half hours during which I took a nap , made polite conversation with my co-passenger , and admired  the world go by.  

White Pearl Beach Resort

Hikkaduwa is a small touristy town and the station is even smaller. Many passengers got down and so did we.  A tuk-tuk should charge 200SL to the hotel but we were too tired to  haggle over the fare and paid what the driver demanded of 300SL.

The USP of  White Pearl Beach resort was that it was bang on the sea  located in Putuwatha ,4 kms off Hikkaduwa. A 8-bedroom Sri Lankan bungalow converted into a cushy resort,Anand, the owner-chef-caretaker splits his year between Italy and Sri Lanka . During the summer months he  works in a resort in Italy and in winter he is running his resort here. We were lucky to get him as he was an excellent cook and took personal care of his guests. He was assisted by Laxman , his man Friday . Between the two the resort ran smoothly and during the tourist season in winter  other helpers  chipped in .

As it was the off-season there were only two couples , a honeymooning Ukranian twosome and us,  which gave the place the privacy as in  our  home with an in-house cook and bearer . It is best to take a room on the first floor which provides a private balcony and a magnificent view of the sea. The hotel provided hot-water, A.C. Free Wi-fi was available at the lobby . Breakfast came with the package . Buses stop in front of the resort . Taxis and tuk-tuks were available.  What more can you expect for$40 a day !!  

The sea lured us into taking a dip every now and then . The beach was not crowded and the sand was as white as white can be. The trawlers brought in the fish every evening to the harbour which was walking distance . We had the privilege of selecting our own fish which Anand worked upon to create a gastronomical delight . So it was Seer,tuna, lobster, bass, mackerel and barracuda for us to savor the whole week . To go to Hikkaduwa town –centre you can take a bus for 30SL or a tuk-tuk for 200SL.

A visit to  Galle on the southern most tip of the country is a must from Hikkaduwa.Since it was a hot day  we cut short our trip and came back at 3pm to find that the resort was locked . Anand and Laxman had gone off shopping as we had told them that we would return late evening.  We took a side road , walked down the beach and entered the  back veranda, stripped and dived into the sea . The freedom was exhilarating.  The monsoon waves were high , the beach was empty and we later relaxed on the  extended arm–chairs by the beach

Souvenir shops, cafes, water
sports outlets line the main road of Hikkaduwa. Evenings can be well spent
browsing around and ending the day at the Tree-top restaurant for dinner and
  Like all good things our
vacation in Sri lanka came to an end . We took the new expressway  to the airport from Hikkaduwa. Boarding theSpice Jet flight to Madurai ,we promised to come back to this idyllic place .
 Thetrip was over but memories will last forever  As the plane took off I glanced down through
the window at the beautiful “green emerald” lyng in the Indian Ocean , lapping
its waters in a serene and calm manner. 
Thomas Merton wrote about Sr Lanka thus…. ………..”I don’t know when in my life I have ever had such a senseof beauty and spiritual validity running together in an aesthetic
illumination.” Truly a “jeweled pendant” for us to appreciate.

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