Why land is my favourite place to be.......

Trip Start Dec 28, 2013
Trip End Jan 18, 2014

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What I did

Flag of Sri Lanka  , Southern Province,
Friday, January 10, 2014

Ah the final blog. Always a sad time to get to the end of your travels and the end of Rice and Curry buffets. Our last few days were quite relaxing as we headed along south coast. Our first stop (after Yala) was a small village called Hambantota where we stopped for tea a small meal served in palm leaf and to make complete tits of ourselves partaking in traditional Sri Lankan games one of which was not too dissimilar to cricket (modern day national sport).

Although our bus was parked a stones throw away we were taken back in tractors that appear to run on lawn mower motors- quite fun really.

10 years ago this year the Boxing Day Tsunami hit the coastal areas of Sri Lanka killing over 60,000 people. At the time our tour leader (Roshan) was 2 days into leading a tour and with most of the itinerary off limits the group agreed to continue travelling on altered route to hotels where they raised money to help local families.

The hotel by the beach Exodus used was destroyed. The manager, owner and many employees lost their lives and 3 families lost their bread winners and their homes, (there is no pension here). The money those exodus travellers raised was used to rebuild 3 houses for these families. The fund raising continued and Exodus helped other families - today we visited and had lunch with the family of house number 7.

Today there is no physical evidence of the Tsunami but Roshan had a book with photos of damage to hotel and local area and I am sure the psychological scars may never heal.....

In the afternoon we arrived at our hotel on the beach and enjoyed a sunset swim in the ocean. A bit like Bali there are women selling sarongs on the beach who want you to buy from them. Whilst i tried concentrating on breaking waves and strong currents they whip out numerous colours and styles from the shore. Eventually you will give one the thumbs up - it's well worth the 600 rupee. Incidentally a bird crapped on my head whilst swimming so 2014 is looking good. Despite gloomy Chinese horoscope predictions.

Tonight - shock horror - no buffet so I had to settle for some fresh calamari (well I was by the sea).

In the morning it was a stupid o'clock start to do a stupid thing (oh how my memory fades over time). Whale watching. We were in best pace in world and best time of year to see the majestic Blue Whale and with every group for last few weeks spotting whales I didn't want to miss out. For the first 20 minutes it was all good - we saw some whales almost immediately although the buggers are awfully hard to catch on camera. But then I overheard the Captain say "sit down we go deep sea"........ Deep f*^#%^% what???

For the next hour I concentrated on the horizon and saw nothing but ocean and sky. Way out we came across a small fishing boat (practically a row boat) who advised the Blue whales had already gone by. The said fisherman had caught a Tuna almost as big as him and by way of compensating for lack of whales he held it up high- there was no way I could take my eyes off horizon to take a photo.

Then we switched direction and headed toward spinning dolphins( great that's all I need when my head is already spinning) I too switched directions and headed towards the deck where I spent the remainder of trip wishing I was in a coma (still an improvement on wishing i was dead). Apologies to those fellow travellers who had to try and enjoy a pod of spinning dolphins jumping whilst I dry reached into a Singapore airlines vomit bag...............

Eventually we made it back to shore- where I vowed never to leave.

Wanting nothing more than a cool shower and lie down we found our tuk tuk in midst of flat tyre repair. Good thing tuk tuks are versatile, it took no time and little effort to change the tyre (see photo)

Oh I did take a photo of a whale (not a blue whale prob sperm) it's the little bit of white water amongst a lot of ocean (see photo). Oh and if you feel let down down by that just remember I could have paid $80 to drink delicious cocktails before throwing up - and that's all I got to show for my efforts. Mind you if you don't get sea sick I'm told the spinning Dolphins were fun to watch.

I recovered In time to join the group in a special celebration. It was Roshan's 200th trip with Exodus and they were putting on a little party for him. We knew in advance and had all signed a cricket bat for him (he loves playing cricket). He had no idea which was great surprise and afterwards we danced until wee hours with those great Sri Lankan hits like grease lightening and YMCA.....

Our final day together as a group and we had a mid morning start (yeah) whichever gave us time to go watch the stilt fishermen who catch more tourist rupees then they do fish (see photo). It also gave the sarong selling lady a final chance to off load more sarongs (which she did),

Our final stop was the sea side Fort of Galle (Gawl). In 1500's the Portuguese built a small Fort and in 1600's the Dutch destroyed it and built a Dutch fort - still well preserved today. It reminded me a lot of Cartagena in Colombia and a bit of Havana. Within the walled town there are lots of little cafes and galleries and souvenir shops along with over 400 houses, churches, temples, mosques and government buildings. We went into most popular shop called barefoot where I witnessed a terrible tantrum by a young English girl not dissimilar to girl from Willy Wonker - "Daddy I want a pony" - it was so bad I had to leave before I suggested to the mother she contact Super Nanny or offered a free lesson on how to say "no"............

We had lunch at the Amangalla hotel, a converted 17th century town house (more like mansion) that was just beautiful and I ordered a salad with goats cheese and got more than one wee cube.

At 3pm we headed up to Colombo - our final destination. The drive in was most interesting with chaotic traffic- even for Sat afternoon ( see photo). We also saw our first Maccas sign but pleased to report no one cared to stop there.

We had a quiet final rice and curry buffet meal before Karen and I joined the majority of British travellers on the bus one last time as we headed to airport. Our flight to Maldives was 45min after flight to Heathrow. As we drove North through Main Streets of Colombo I noted that the US embassy had more security than the Presidents Palace.

As we bid our fellow travelling companions farewell as they headed back to a British Winter i still had a few unanswered questions:

1) if Bridge on river Kwai was filmed in Sri Lanka as location matched the river Kwai why didnt they just film it at the river Kwai in Thailand which arguably has to be the best location?

2) Do all Sri Lankan men where underwear under their Sarongs?

3) Do cricket haters become social outcasts?

4) Who feeds the dogs (other than me and like minded travellers)

5) Is the reason why I'm still single because the hour of my birth doesn't match with my parents horoscope?

6) When Kamal said "why are people so unkind" - which people is he referring to (Sri Lankan's didn't strike me as unkind)........

We then boarded our flight to the most exotic location we will have been to so far, and my 76 country Republic of Maldives...........
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