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Let’s Go Surfin’ Now at Arugam Bay

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Hostels in Sri Lanka

A laid-back village on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka, Arugam Bay is one of the best places in the world for surfing, and has been a favorite of the long-term community for decades. Thanks to the steady presence of chilled-out expats, the town has a cool, low-key vibe which we’ve not seen anywhere else on the island. Great restaurants serving a variety of cuisine, comfy beach-side lodging, hip lounges, a happy mix of foreigners and locals… and of course, incredible waves.

Surfing Together

Although we’re not surfers, we enjoyed the way of life here so much that we stayed for five days. The restaurants alone were worth the extended stopover. Our favorite was the Siam Lounge, owned by a Dutch guy who’s been here since 1977 (and looks exactly like a Dutch guy who’s lived in a Sri Lankan surf town for 34 years) and his Thai wife. The upper-floor lounge area serves potent German-style brews and delicious Thai cuisine, while a 60s-heavy soundtrack accompanies surf-dude highlights playing in a loop on a projection screen. After so many nights spent scarfing down rice and curry in dingy restaurants while Sinhalese pop squealed from cheap speakers, the Siam Lounge was paradise.

Our last couple nights were spent in a beach-side cabin, complete with hammock and deck mattress. We should have tried surfing, but this was our vacation. After two months spent running around Sri Lanka, we didn’t want to do anything except turn our brains off and lounge around.

But although we couldn’t be bothered to get on boards, we did take a trip to Whiskey Point to watch surfers ply their trade. This was during the off-season, but the waves were still decent — they come all the way from Antarctica to crash on Arugam Bay’s shores, with no other landmass to impede them. We had fun watching the guys and girls catch the waves, and I felt a pinch of envy. Next time I’m at Arugam Bay, I’ll try it out.

Location of Arugam Bay on our Map
Learn To Surf

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Surfing in Arugam Bay
Camel Toe
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Dream Beach Sri Lanka
Green Sand Banks
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Hippie Beach Sri Lanka
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Beach Hut Sri Lanka
Wild Wild West Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Breakfast we had in Arugam Bay:

Sri Lanka Breakfast
Sri Lankan Breakfast
Sri Lankan Surfer
Surf Design
Surf Culture Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka Art
Sunset Watch Dog
Siam-Lounge-Arugam-Bay
Smoking Weed Arugam Bay
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April 12, 2012 at 1:48 pm Comments (3)

The Kandyan Kingdom and Robert Knox

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For hundreds of years, the stubborn Kandyan Kingdom proved a thorn in the side of conquest-happy European powers. Isolated, unassailable and mysterious, the kingdom remained the only independent region of Sri Lanka until finally falling to the British in 1817.

Robert Know Ceylon Sri Lanka

When the Portuguese arrived in Sri Lanka, in 1505, the island was ruled by a number of independent kingdoms. None of them had any hope of matching the Europeans’ naval power, and almost all fell quickly. Jaffna, Colombo, Trincomalee, Galle… the coastal regions were soon under Portuguese control. Suddenly, the treacherous jungle and impossible mountains of Kandy, which had always encumbered commerce and life, proved to be an invaluable asset, guaranteeing independence.

Only a couple paths led through the jungle to Kandy and the natives were able to keep these routes secret. Revealing one of the paths to a foreigner was an offense punishable by death. And given the mountainous landscape, the roads were easily defensible; even if a invading patrol were to find the right trail, they would be routed long before arriving.

Portuguese, Dutch, English, all flailed against the airtight defense of the mountain kingdom. Throughout the colonial period, the Kandyans proved to be feisty negotiating partners, frequently siding with one power against another, then gleefully breaking treaties as the whim took them. The first Dutch diplomatic mission to Kandy ended in a bloody farce, when the king, offended by the foreigners’ drunken and unruly behavior, ordered them killed.

Due to its isolation, relatively little is known about life inside the Kandyan Kingdom. The most important source for information comes from an Englishman named Robert Knox, who was captured by the Kandyans. Knox lived for nineteen years as a prisoner in the kingdom. As time wore on, he gained a fair degree of autonomy, and was able to wander about at will — the few routes which led to escape were heavily guarded.

Eventually, the resourceful Knox (thought to be the real-life model for Robinson Crusoe) did escape, and wrote a long account of his time on Ceylon. An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon dedicates most of its pages to a description of life in the Kingdom of Kandy. In the bawdiest bits, Knox, a straight-laced puritan, describes his shock at the overt sexual practices of the islanders, such as polygamy and incest. If you’re interested, the book is available for free Kindle Download at Amazon.

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February 20, 2012 at 5:18 am Comments (4)
Let's Go Surfin' Now at Arugam Bay A laid-back village on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka, Arugam Bay is one of the best places in the world for surfing, and has been a favorite of the long-term community for decades. Thanks to the steady presence of chilled-out expats, the town has a cool, low-key vibe which we've not seen anywhere else on the island. Great restaurants serving a variety of cuisine, comfy beach-side lodging, hip lounges, a happy mix of foreigners and locals... and of course, incredible waves.
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