Up the South Coast - Tangalle to Negombo Road Trip

Trip Start Mar 03, 2008
Trip End Jun 02, 2008

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Flag of Sri Lanka  , Negombo,
Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mulkirigala There are quite a few interesting things to see in the Tangalle area and one of these is rock temples at Mulkirigala which is apparently like a mini version and cross between the Ancient cities sites of Dambulla and Sigirya. I am planning to do the Ancient cities "Golden Triangle" during Vesak Poya wkend in mid May so I will see the more well known, bigger attractions then, but is quite nice to see this less visited one particularly because it is so close to where I live - only about 16km away.  There are a series of caves where the walls and roof of the cave itself have been carved and decorated and date back to the third century BC. We went to the top of the rock where we 4 young visiting Monks from the Galle area were who were very obliging for us to take a photo.  This was quite welcome because it can be considered insulting to take a photo of a Monk and is something I tend to not do in case I offend, but our guide spoke to them and they were happy to pose.  From the top of the rock you got an amazing 360 view including the coast and it was a lovely clear day. It is quite interesting because at these type of attractions where not many tourists visit, they are so not geared up on a health and safety point of view - ie no safety barrier and actually really quite dangerous when you see where you are sitting.  Our guide mentioned when we were at the top about a young SL guy who recently fell off and got killed after sitting on the top of the rock drinking arrack which is not a good combination. Wewurukannala at Dickwella At Dickwella, SL's largest seated Buddha is located, which is 50m high and was constructed in the 1960s.  You can walk up inside through lots of rooms which feature a cartoon strip of Buddhist life which is used for teaching children and shows some disturbing images of punishments which will happen if you do wrong. When you get to the top, you can actually look in to the inside of the Buddha head in which a little shrine has been made.  While you are doing this a little man "keeper of the big Buddha" puts his hand on your head and chants a blessing (for a tip of course).  I had read the rough guide before I got here and it describes the flame of wisdom on the Buddha's head as looking like a huge dollop of icecream.  It is actually a very good description and because of the bright colours used - all I could see was a Mr Whippy cone Hoo-Maniya Blowhole About 7km from Tangalle there is a blowhole - Hoo-Maniya which is named after the "hoo" boom noise it makes just before it sprouts water. The blowhole is about 20m deep and a metre wide underneath the rock so when the sea is a bit choppier it can be quite impressive.  The monsoon season has just started (runs May to Sept) which is the best time to see it.  Although I think it gets more impressive around June time when the monsoon is in full flow, we still got a number of good spouts. BodyBoarding at Goyambokka I spent a weekend staying at Goyambokka back at New Year time and it is a great place for body boarding. The waves can be pretty rough and you do get quite a thrashing around, but the good thing about it is there is no shelf, so even if you get totally swept over by a powerful wave, you know you are safe because all you need to do is stand up!  The friendly guys at the Rocky Point Hotel don't mind us borrowing their body boards so have been there a couple of times to catch a bit of surf in the cheaters way.  It is also a really secluded beach so you get peace and quiet from the likes of beach traders etc. Dondra Head - Southern-Most Point of SL I always find there is something about being at the biggest this and the most Western that blah blah, so of course had to visit the Southern-most point of SL just to say I had done it!  There is a big lighthouse there which you can climb but decided just to wander around the base. When you look South, there is nothing but Sea between you and Antarctica which is over 10,000 miles away, which is quite an interesting thought when you imagine how cold it will be away down there.  You can also understand why the sea can be so rough because there is nothing to break its path! Ambalangoda - Masks
Ambalangoda is between Matara and Colombo, so not too far North from Galle.  It is the main production centre for the wooden masks that were originally worn by performers in exorcism ceremonies and kolam dances.  Many Sri Lankans still believe that diseases and illness can be caused by demons and there is a devil dance (which is like an exorcism ceremony) which summon the demons who are causing a person to be sick, make offerings to them and request that they leave their victim in peace. There are different groups of demons, which are responsible for certain diseases, each represented by a different mask (35 different masks) and some of them are pretty hideous looking.  There is also a single massive medicine mask which is a combination of all 35 illness/disease masks.  Kolam and folk dance masks are a bit more light-hearted and more pleasant to look at and tend to be of kings, queens, animals and village characters.  They were used in a more theatrical way to tell traditional historical folk tales.  We went to the Ambalangoda Mask Museum and got a run down of the history of the art of mask making and the different dancing and then went to watch the mask carvers at work. Bentota Sea Turtles Project There are several turtle hatcheries around the Kosgoda area which is where a lot of turtles come to lay their eggs, but also unfortunately an area where there are a lot of poachers and predators and therefore a lot of eggs are eaten or destroyed.  These hatcheries are different from the Rekawa project near Tangalle because if the eggs got left where they are laid, they would be extremely unlikely to survive, so the hatcheries rebury the eggs in a secure environment and after they hatch keep them in holding tanks until they are more likely to survive and release them to sea at night time.  
The interesting thing about turtles is that the few female turtles that survive to maturity will return to the same spot 15 years later to lay their own eggs.  I really love turtles and you got to hold the day old baby's which were just gorgeous and there were hundreds of them - it is really sad to think that the majority of them won't survive.  They had other tanks of turtles at various stages which we got to hold and they also had an albino turtle which are extremely rare.  The albino turtle had a very sensitive shell because it is softer than a normal turtles and if you touch the top, it tickles so would wriggle away from you - very cute. 
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