This morning I was up early for a walk along the beach. The beach is always a great place to walk and doing so in a foreign country adds to the newness of a place and what might be seen. Turtle Bay resort is on a peninsula and the bay and the beach is a beautiful expanse of sand that seems to go on from point to point. Walking, you pass small resorts in the town of Tangalle that seems to offer up the opportunity for people to partake in yoga and other ‘healthy’ kind of options. I guess I was taking up my own healthy option without having to thrust my legs over my head or create some very unladylike pose that despite my best efforts wouldn’t look very elegant.
On the way back along the beach a group of around !5 local men were pulling in a huge net. Appears that the net was attached to their traditional boat some kilometre or so out in the ocean. The men waved to me to come help and I thought it would be a great opportunity to partake in something unexpected but that few rarely get to do. Firstly let me say that the net is huge and extremely heavy – I guess because it’s trying to pull in the boat but also because one hopes that the net is also laden with fish. The men were laughing and joking in their native language – seems like a white chick with a willingness to do a man’s job is a bit of rarity around here. This was further reinforced when a few of the local ladies came along the beach and there was conversation between them all to join in to which they were none too forthcoming. After half an hour or so, it was time to get back to the others at the hotel. The shoes were wet from going into the ocean and so were the clothes but it didn’t really matter. I would have loved to have stayed to share in the joy of finishing together but the task was massive and looked liked it would take a while to complete so at that point I bailed and left them to it. I’m not sure I would want to be doing that everyday!
Heading up for the shower, Claire and Jen decided to take the opportunity to a) go for a run (Claire) and b) go for a walk (Jen) – no possibility of reverse option! We were lucky that we were having an 11am check out so that gave us plenty of time to not only enjoy the beach before it go too hot but also have some breakfast afterwards including another interesting juice concoction – what’s wrong with just orange?
Leaving Turtle Bay we headed for our last stop on the Sri Lankan part of our trip – Shailini Villa at Unawatuna. This is where we will spend the next six nights. Along the way we stopped to see the Stilt fishermen of Welligama who now only pretend to fish so that they can get photographed for a fee. Maybe it was that Keeth was keen for his own big tip or that the fishermen today were particularly pleasant or that they wanted others to see the possibility of what they could do if they coughed up some money, but whatever it was, we were all invited to sit on one of the stilts and pretend to fish which was a pretty cool experience.
From there onto Galle Fort, a place built by the Dutch to assist in the defences of the port but also a place that proved to be especially useful as a protector for the town when the Tsunami came through. It’s an impressive looking place, now no longer an historical area but also a shopping and fish market place. At this stage, the sun was really beating down – an incredibly humid day and so we made our time short there as we will be going back for another activity later in the week.
Finally onto the villa. Now each time on a holiday we try to find somewhere or something that we can rest at the end of the trip. It’s kinda become an integral part of the Elliot travel itinerary Last year it was Essouria, sometimes a cruise but this time the villa. The villa was hidden behind an entrance that consisted of big wooden gates and a thatched roof. It was approximately 400metres from the beach down a narrow road. Surrounding the perimeter of the villa garden was a big high fence so that you felt cocooned in the tranquillity of the place. The house itself was big and open with plenty of places to sit both inside and out. The gardens were extremely tropical with a beautiful pool on one side. It is a typical tropical villa and just great as a base. Not only is the house itself lovely but it comes complete with a manager, a chef and a security guard who comes in at 6;30pm and basically lies on a sun bed under a thatched canopy near the entrance gates all night. Yep not a bad place to be!
After checking it out for a little while and then working out what massages we wanted tomorrow (husband’s cousin owns a local spa here) we then went for a walk to check out the beach and town and get something to eat. Now one side of the beach is quite rocky but the other side is a very popular long curved stretch of sand, not pure soft sand, a little gritty but still very nice. Before walking on the beach, we stopped off at the Sun and the Sea and ordered ourselves some home made chips, fries and a couple of really yummy drinks all with crushed ice which has been a bit of a rarity here.
The walk along the beach showcased the huge number of restaurants including most that have Seafood BBQ cooking stations. The number of deck chairs and umbrellas though looked a little Phuketish and made us glad that we weren’t staying in one of these – although we were probably paying a little more than they were.
At the end of the beach, we turned off onto the road and meandered our way through one main winding shopping precinct, stopping along the way for a Chocolate and Banana Roti ( the Sri Lankan version of a French crepe). No spices included in this relatively safe option apart from the fact that it was a tiny little street side shop.
Walking back home, we jumped into the pool for an evening swim, a really nice way to end the day, looking into the sky and watching the fireflies twinkle around us like little fairies in the sky. Something pretty amazing that we hadn’t seen before but topped off a good day in a great location.
Side Note: One thing that Sri Lanka doesn’t have is stable and fast internet. Access has been limited and at times extremely slow. Blog updates are being delayed as a result and some will have to wait until we get home.