Galle and its surrounds

Trip Start Jul 11, 2013
Trip End Sep 09, 2013

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Day 3

On the third day of our visit Aaron and Nellie had arranged a coastal "get-away" to Galle. Galle is on the west coast about 2 hours south of Colombo.   Our driver (Mr Shyam) arrived and we all climbed aboard the "people mover" and headed along Sri Lanka's "best road".   The “best road” is a highway similar to the Hume however but unlike the Hume it is devoid of traffic as most Sri Lankans can't afford the $4 toll so the road remains mostly unused with the exception of the rich and foreign tourists.  

After a pleasant traffic free drive though the picturesque countryside we reached the town of Galle Fort in time for lunch.  This is an interesting place as it was the only southern town to escape the ravages of the Boxing Day tsunami nine years ago when the fort held and saved the people and its infrastructure.  

The fort was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century to protect Sri Lanka’s southern tip from sea faring invaders and later in the 17th century was extensively fortified by the Dutch which proved to be a godsend during the Tsunami on 26th December, 2004.  Apparently It was the sheer height of the Fort that protected Galle Fort from being ravaged by the onslaught of the sea.

Galle Fort is a quaint place with narrow streets boasting many craft shops.  Leesa managed to find a lovely print of Sri Lankan Pole fisherman that when hung in her home will make a lovely reminder of her trip.  The only down side of this quaint little town were the gypsies who tried in vane to sell us their wares and would not take “no” for an answer when we declined their persistant advances. The gypsies literally chased us down the street shoving their wares at us to try and change our minds.  If they could only have seen Sal and my ever expanding suitcases they wouldn't even have wasted their time

We left Galle Fort and continued our drive to Galle where Aaron and Nellie had booked us into “The Fortress Resort”.  I now understand why Shane Warne and Liz Hurley chose this part of the world to holiday with their families as it’s really amazing!  We were welcomed to the resort with cocktails and happily accepted when we were offered an upgrade to our rooms.  Sal and Leesa, Trevor and I both opted for balcony rooms on the 1st floor overlooking the pool and ocean and Aaron and Nellie opted for a ground floor room with its own plunge pool.  

I can only describe our balcony rooms as amazing – the sheer size for two people was obscene.  Our bathroom and bedroom were upstairs with the bed beautifully positioned to take in the sea views.  The open plan bathroom was definitely designed for romantic couples (and not us seniors!), it featured a huge stand-alone bath with mood lighting, a huge glass shower room and glass toilet room. Sal described their room as "definitely not being conducive to a mother/daughter stay".

It didn’t take us long to settle in and enjoy the resort lifestyle - cocktail hour and entertainment commenced at 6pm then at 7.30pm our driver returned to take us to a nearby restaurant that Aaron and Nellie had pre-booked.  Once again our "tour guides" had excelled in choosing yet another great restaurant in an amazing location.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget the jumbo prawns I ordered - they were like small lobsters but tasted even better! 

 Day 4

After being lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves in our huge bed we awoke to be served breakfast poolside.  During breakfast we were fascinated by the tiniest squirrels any of us had ever seen.  They scurried among the tables and begged to be fed – they were really very cute. 
After breakfast, and to the amusement of our fellow travellers, Sal and I decided it was time to break out the swimsuits and hit the pool. The photos of us frolicking in the water will not make this blog as disappointingly they are not reminiscent of poolside photos taken in our youth.

The check out time came all too soon when our driver returned to load us and our luggage into the van for our return trip to Colombo.  Before leaving Galle our driver detoured to a very large Buddhist Temple that we had been admiring from a distance.  To tour the Temple you must first remove your shoes so after complying we climbed the stairs to view the statues of Buddha from his creation to his death.  Sally and I were very lucky to engage with some delightful local school children who were at the Temple on an excursion and although they didn't speak our language our cameras spoke a universal language as they happily smiled and posed for photos

Prior to our departure from the resort, Aaron had requested our driver take us via the old coast road for our trip back to Colombo so we could visit a Turtle Sanctuary along the way.  This proved to be a great idea as besides visiting the sanctuary it also enabled us to view and understand in some small way the enormity of the devastation caused to this area by the Boxing Day Tsunami. Our driver was familiar with the worst affected areas and stopped for us to photograph a memorial to those who perished in a train trying to flee the Tsunami along with thousands of other unidentified locals.  This reminder really hit home to us that our resort stay was something many people would have been enjoying at the time the Tsunami struck. Unfortunately for them this event would ultimately end or change their lives forever.

The Turtle Sanctuary was something we all enjoyed.  It was interesting to learn that the sanctuary buys the turtle eggs from local fishermen and then re-buries them at the sanctuary where they later hatch.  The baby turtles are then rotated through a different pond each day until the third day when their “belly button's” have closed over they are taken at night to the beach and released. Their survival rate is less than 20% but apparently that is a good rating.

The remainder of our drive home along the coast road was interesting – we were able to see how the villagers lived.  Many were farmers selling their produce roadside and many farmed livestock that roamed with them along the highway.  The narrow road was a little chaotic at times especially when the many buses seemed hell bent on overtaking everything in sight - they are definitely a law unto themselves.  

At one point a Tuk Tuk ran into the back of our van.  Fortunately there was no damage to the van and very little to the Tuk Tuk.   After investigating the situation our driver came back laughingly telling us the Tuk Tuk had seven large males crammed into it and they were not remotely concerned about the damage to their Tuk Tuk they were only concerned about missing the food and drink at the wedding reception they were hurrying to attend when the mishap occurred.  Conversation over, the Tuk-Tuk took off at a fast pace to make it to the wedding reception on time.  Like our driver, I’m still not sure how seven large males fitted into that one tiny Tuk Tuk! 

We arrived home in time for dinner which had been beautifully prepared by Aaron and Nellie's home helper - Elizabeth.  Elizabeth is a great cook and made a feast for us including two versions of Pork Curry and a Prawn and Chicken Curry, as well as side dishes of rice, caramelised onion, a medley of roasted vegetable and salad.  Yum!!
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