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Friend-Friends and Other Observations

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Confusing slang, seat-snatching monks, bizarre Spanish phrases, indecipherable head bobbles… all just part of learning to live with a new culture! These are some of our favorite quirks and misunderstandings from three months in Sri Lanka.

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Friend-Friends

“You and you, you are brothers, no?” No, we’re not brothers. “Ah, you are friends?” Yes, that’s right! “But you are Germany and you are USA?” Yes. “Strange. You are friends for much time?” Yes, almost ten years now. “Ah.”

“AH!” Sudden understanding floods her eyes, which now take on a slightly mischievous glint. “I see. You are friend-friends.” Haha, yes. That’s exactly right. We’re friend-friends.

We’ve heard the term three separate times now, arrived at in exactly the same roundabout way, and always delivered with the same knowing, conspiratorial tone. “Friend-friends”. I suppose I like it better than “life partners”.

Calling Rosa Parks

Sri Lanka’s ubiquitous orange-robed Buddhist monks play an important role in the island’s cultural, political and social life. But they’re not always as peaceful as you might expect — the monks are the most virulently nationalistic faction in Sri Lanka, and directly responsible for much of the ethnic strife that’s long plagued the island.

Still, they’re highly venerated members of Sri Lankan society. So much so, that they’re given priority seating on any bus. The first two seats, right behind the driver, are reserved for clergy. Anyone seated there will immediately stand up when a monk boards the bus. We’ve been dumbfounded by this obligatory show of reverence ever since our arrival. Once, I saw a hobbled old man stand up for a child monk of around fifteen years. Without a thought, the kid sat down with that beatific expression of holy serenity, while the bent old man grasped in vain for the overhead bar.

Note to any Sri Lankan monks visiting the USA: Don’t try this in America! Expecting someone to relinquish their bus seat, because (according to your beliefs) they’re supposed to respect you… yeah, we don’t go for that.

Packing Light

We’ve taken loads of local transport during our months in Sri Lanka. Long-distance buses and trains which are almost always full with people traveling between cities over five hours apart. But always, always we are the only ones with any sort of luggage. It’s absolutely baffling. Nobody brings anything larger than a half-full rucksack … and if so, it’s just a bag of onions or coconuts.

Once, after we had traveled from Jaffna to Trincomalee, the woman seated in front of me asked for help with her burlap sack of onions. She disembarked and signaled that she wanted me to hoist the sack out the bus door and onto the top of her head. After feeling the weight of that giant sack — at least 30 kilos — I said “nope”. No way was I going to be responsible for breaking this old lady’s neck! But she was adamant, and I had to concede that her neck did look curiously powerful. So, I gathered my strength and swung the sack out the bus door, [plop] onto the top of her head. And off she trotted.

Hello?

If you’re white, walking down the streets of any Sri Lankan city can be a real hassle. “Hello! Sir? Tuk-tuk sir? Hello? Where are you going?” The barrage of questions is relentless and you can either ignore them, or respond politely ad nauseum. But eventually, you’re going to get frustrated.

So it’s unfortunate that “Hello?” is the standard telephone greeting here. More than once, I’ve heard a pointed “Hello?” behind me on the street, and spun around with a frustrated sigh, “What?! What do you want?! Leave me al… oh. You’re just answering your cell phone. Sorry! Please, proceed”.

Disculpen!

Yes, the word “sorry” is one we’ve had to learn in every country! “Entschuldigung” in Germany, “scusa” in Italy, and: “disculpen” in Spain. I was surprised to hear that last word frequently here in Sri Lanka. Little kids would spot us on the street and run up with palms outstretched, then bizarrely shout out “Disculpen!” What?! “Bon-bons? Money? The foreign coin? Disculpen?”

It took us at least three weeks to realize that the greedy brats weren’t just suddenly being polite in Spanish. That would be cute and unexpected. What they actually want is “the school pen”.

The Head Bobble

“Could I have a bottle of water?” Head-bobble. “Oh, you don’t have any water?” Head-bobble. “You do?” Head-bobble. “Ah, you’re already trying to hand me the water?” Head-bobble. “Okay, thank you! Goodbye!” Head-bobble.

Oh, the Sri Lanka head bobble. This confounded me for at least a week after our arrival. It means “yes”, or “I agree”, or “I understand what you’re saying”. They do it in India, too, and it’s basically used to convey positivity. But to us, it looks like “no” — though it’s not really a shake of the head. More, a swivel from side to side.

We’ve gotten accustomed to it, and Jürgen has actually caught me bobbling my own head when talking with people. I can’t help it; I’m a sponge.

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April 30, 2012 at 11:50 am Comments (7)

Colombo Short Stay – Your Posh Condo in the City

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With a magnificent setting in the 22nd floor of the Emperor Building, itself part of the five-star Cinnamon Grand’s complex, the luxury condo offered by Colombo Short Stay was an incredible place to spend our last night in Sri Lanka. Out on the balcony, with a bottle of red wine and a view that stretches over the Indian Ocean and most of the city, we couldn’t have found a better spot to wrap up our journey.

Rent Apartment in Colombo

The modern condo has three bedrooms and two bathrooms, sleeps six people, and combines the best aspects of a private apartment and a luxury hotel. Within the condo, you’ll enjoy the comforts of home, like high-speed internet (the fastest we’ve had in Sri Lanka), a huge flat-screen TV, BluRay player, washing machine, giant fridge, cozy furniture, and a well-equipped kitchen. Then you can step outside into the world of a five-star hotel — a swimming pool, incredible (and surprisingly affordable) restaurants, a workout room with ultra-modern machines and great shopping.

The Emperor Building is in one of the best neighborhoods of Colombo, right between the Galle Face Green and Temple Trees, which is where the president lives. And you have one of the city’s best shopping complexes, Crescat Boulevard, mere minutes away.

If you’re staying in Colombo for an extended period of time, definitely take a look at the availability in this condo. It also makes a lot of sense for families or small groups, who might otherwise have to rent multiple hotel rooms. We loved our stay here, and were happy to have such a comfortable final home in Sri Lanka.

See More Photos and Check Availability: Colombo Short Stay – The Emperor
Location on our Sri Lanka Map

Wohnung Mieten Colombo
Rent Flat Colombo
Colombo Lake
Colombo Train
Long Wave
Galle Road Colombo
Colombo Harbor
City Art Sri Lanka
Colombo Tennis
Modern Art Sri Lanka
Ant Pool
Bridge To Heaven
Colombo Moment
Sunset Drive
Colombo Travel Blog
Night Harbor
Good-Night-Colombo
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April 30, 2012 at 7:58 am Comment (1)

The Rocky Southern Coast of Sri Lanka

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Luxury Hotels in Sri Lanka

An unbroken string of tiny towns and hotels stretches out to the east of Galle. The busy road which hugs the coastline passes through Unawatuna, Dalawela, Thalpe, Habaraduwa, Midigama, one right after the other; each offering tourists an insane number of places to stay and things to do.

Sri Lanka Island

We were on this road constantly, en route to places like Alanthgama, where we hoped to see stilt fishermen, or Weligama. This village is set up around a gorgeous circular bay, with a lushly forested mini-island as its centerpiece named Trapobane (also the name Arthur C. Clarke lent Sri Lanka in The Fountains of Paradise). You can rent the villa on Trapobane by the day for an obscene amount of money; it even comes with a full set of personal servants to help you indulge your tackiest private-island fantasies.

Taprobane-Island

We spotted a couple other islands up and down the coast. One just past Midigama, where there’s supposed to be great surfing, and another in the bustling town of Matara, where we switched buses once. Matara’s island is just across from the bus station, and occupied by the picturesque Parey Duwa Buddhist temple.

Matar Temple Island

Most of the coast is rocky, but every so often you’ll spy a bit of golden sand that’s good for a dip. The waters here are rougher and rockier than on the beaches of Trinco, for example, but that makes for more dramatic scenery. Although the coastline itself is heavily developed, it stretches out for so long that finding a small bit of private sand isn’t impossible.

Daytime Turtle Watching

Our best day along the coast was spent at the Wijaya Beach Club, in Dalawela. Pizzas which could almost compete with those of Palermo (almost), and a tiny but excellent beach. While we ate, we watched the waves where six sea turtles were struggling to swim back out into the ocean. Every once in awhile, their heads would poke above the water. They kept getting swept toward the rocky shore, but eventually made their escape. Nobody else in the restaurant had seen them, and they all must have thought we were crazy, staring out into the ocean and randomly cheering.

Location of Trapobane on our Map
Location of Wijaya Beach Club
For 91 Days in the Newspapers

Chill Beach Sri Lanka
Crab Art
Baby Palm
Dramatic Sri Lanka
Drift Wood
Beach Rock
Best Beach Blog
Empty Beach
Private Island Sri Lanka
Wild Beach Sri Lanka
Wild Beach
Sri Lanka Luck
Baby Beach
Crazy Waves Sri Lanka
Strong Current warning
Lonely Stilts
Hand Out Sri Lanka
Human Catch
Zebra Boat
Nicos-Beach-Club-Sri-Lanka
Nicos Expat Madness
Fortress-Resort-Sri-Lanka
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April 28, 2012 at 5:52 am Comments (3)

The Jungle Beach at Galle

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After visiting the gleaming white Japanese Peace Pagoda which provided a wonderful view of Galle Fort, we climbed down toward the true destination of our day trip — Jungle Beach. Not another person in sight, just twin stretches of deserted sand trapped between the ocean and Rumassala Rock. Having just experienced the soul-crushing lameness of Unawatuna, this beach was exactly what we needed. Peace, solitude and gorgeous nature.

Favorite-Beach-South-Sri-Lanka

The fact that the Jungle Beach was completely empty was a minor miracle. It’s not exactly a secret — you can clearly see it from the Fort, and everybody in Galle knows exactly where it is. And getting there wasn’t even difficult: a 400 Rupee tuk-tuk drive to the pagoda, and then a quick ten-minute downhill hike. So, why do 72,319,310 people pack onto the beach at Unawatuna, and nobody comes here? I don’t know, and I don’t care.

This was the best bit of beach we’ve found during our weeks on Sri Lanka’s south coast. It’s worth the effort of searching out.

Location on our Sri Lanka Map
Hotels in Galle

Hidden Temple
Peace-Pagoda-Galle
Plants Sir Lanka
Fishermen-Sri-Lanka
Best-beaches-Sri-Lanka
Jungle-Beach-Sri-Lanka
Beach-Guide-Sri-Lanka
Cool Beach
Galle Fort
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April 28, 2012 at 4:15 am Comments (4)

Unawatuna

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Hotels in Unawatuna

On our way to the beach village of Unawatuna, just a few kilometers up the coast from Galle, we saw a sign that read “Unawatuna: Tourist Paradise!” Which just goes to prove what we’ve been saying all along — Sri Lankans have a hilarious and darkly ironic sense of humor! Unawatuna, paradise for tourists. Ha! That’s a good one.

Unwatuna-Beach

Maybe it’s us. Had we visited Unawatuna during our first week in Sri Lanka, as opposed to our last, we’d almost definitely have had a different opinion. The same thing always happens at the end of our 91-day stays: once we get familiar with a country, the shine of novelty wears off and we’re less forgiving of flaws. From our fatigued and slightly jaded perspectives, Unawatuna was about the worst kind of beach town imaginable.

If you want a trashy resort filled with stores selling overpriced junk and awful restaurants with cutesy names like The Pink Turtle, go to Cancun or Benidorm! Why come all the way to Sri Lanka? But hey, if you want to blow a ton of money on a flight, and be harassed every other minute by another necklace-seller or skeezy masseuse then, certainly: Unawatuna is for you. Enjoy.

I wish I were exaggerating about being bugged “every other minute” by people selling junk, but I’m not. That is unfortunately — unbelievably — accurate. It was non-stop.

The locals weren’t even all that nice; usually a dependable trademark of Sri Lankans! Maybe they were discouraged by the fact that nobody was buying their junk. That must get frustrating. The rich, sunburned Europeans flatly refusing to even look at their junk must make an attractive target for scorn. I’m sorry I don’t want your traditional mask, but please don’t mock me under your breath as you stomp away! Or do. I guess I don’t care.

Unawatuna-Tourists

Maybe it’s understandable. On the western end of Unawatuna, just past a concrete sewage tunnel, is the “locals” section of the beach. The division couldn’t be any more clearly-defined. Europeans over here, Sri Lankans over there in the filth. We’ve seen hotels here that refuse to rent rooms to Sri Lankans. How’s that for enraging? Try to imagine a foreign-owned hotel in your country that refuses you entry. A rich Russian opening a hotel in Miami that strictly prohibits Americans? Inconceivable. Maybe the question shouldn’t be why the Unawatunans were so rude, but how they have the self-composure to remain as civil as they do.

Ugh. We couldn’t leave Unawatuna fast enough. I realize that in this post, I’m completely ignoring the considerable natural beauty of the place. It has some charm — other people we spoke to enjoyed their time there. But I don’t care, we hated it. Plus, it was the start of monsoon season and we had terrible weather. So what, I can’t blame Unawatuna for the monsoon? Well, I do. I blame it for the weather, and I blame it for putting me in a bad mood. Unawatuna, tourist paradise. Heh, well at least that made me laugh.

Location our Sri Lanka Map
strong>Guesthouses in Unawatuna

Why-Unawatuna
Unwatuna
Fishing-Unwatuna
Sri Lanka Bay
UN Protected
Lerning To Swim
Unwatuna-Beach-Resort
Strange Tourism
Strand Unawatuna
Good Times Unawatuna
Trashy-Unawatuna
Surfiing In The USA
The-Rock-Cafe-Unawatuna
/LOL-Elephant
Clashing-Waves
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April 27, 2012 at 10:46 am Comments (7)

The Habaraduwa Turtle Hatchery

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Our Sea Turtle Excursion at Rekawa Beach

Sri Lanka is one of the world’s most important breeding spots for the endangered sea turtle, but heavy development of the coast has contributed greatly to their ever-declining number. To combat that trend, a number of hatcheries have opened along the southern coast. We visited one in Habaraduwa.

Super-Cute-Turtle

The small hatchery, which cost 400 rupees per person, was split into a few sections. A curiously tiny patch of sand in the corner contained batches of eggs (or “clutches”). Each was labeled with the date they were laid, the number of eggs in the clutch, and the exact species. We were told that about one set of eggs hatches every day. I was surprised how tightly the clutches were placed next to each other.

The rest of the hatchery was occupied by a bunch of water tanks. In one, dozens of baby turtles swam clumsily about. They were cute, and would stay in captivity until their fourth day of life before being released into the ocean. Our guide explained that when they’re a bit older, their chances of survival increase dramatically.

Other tanks held injured turtles, including one I nicknamed “Stumpy”. A propeller had carved Stumpy’s right flipper clean off, and the poor guy could no longer submerge. Instead he floated around on top of the water, continually rotating his stump. Five other turtles which had been found clinging to life on the beach, including a couple impressively large specimens, swam about their tanks, recovering in the hatchery until they could be re-released.

The Habaraduwa Hatchery is a private enterprise, unaffiliated with any offical conservation organization. And it was impossible to ignore the disquieting possibility, or likelihood even, that it’s more interested in tourist dollars than protecting sea turtles. The cold reality is that private individuals are going out at night, digging up sea turtle eggs from the beach, bringing them to their property, and then charging tourists to see them.

Seaturtle.org has a comprehensive article on the pros and cons of Sri Lanka’s private hatcheries. The truth is, something has to be done to protect these beautiful, endangered creatures. And if the government won’t step in with an official and adequately enforced conservation effort, private hatcheries might be the next best thing. Yes, they might just want our cash, but this might be one of those rare instances when the interests of capitalism and conservation align. Ultimately, we enjoyed our trip here and felt that it was an enterprise worth tentative support.

Location on our Sir Lanka Map
Snorkel Gear

Sea Turtle Hatchery
Hatchery-Turtles-Sri-Lanka
Little Turtles
Turtle Mess
Not Trusting Turtles
Turtle Bubbles
Pissed Turtle
Little Stonkers
Sad Turtle
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April 27, 2012 at 8:47 am Comment (1)

The Martin Wickramasinghe Museum

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Sri Lanka History Books

One of our first mornings in Galle, we took a bus to Alanthgama with the intention of seeing stilt fisherman — one of Sri Lanka’s most iconic images. But whether it was due to the stormy seas, the time of day, or the recently completed New Year’s festivities, the stilts were unoccupied. Foiled! Now what would we do?

“It says here that the Martin Wickramasinghe Museum is nearby.”
“Martin Wickra-what?!”
“No clue. Some author.”

Martin-Wickramasinghe-House

We were only going because there was nothing else to do, and were in solid agreement that house-museum of an author we’d never heard of couldn’t possibly be the slightest bit interesting. But how wrong we were!

The museum is split into a couple sections. The cabin where Mr. Wickramasinghe grew up has been preserved and contains original furniture, pictures of the author receiving awards and a thorough chronicle of his life. Wickramasinghe (May 1890 – July 1976) was one of the cultural lights of colonial Ceylon, and one of the few writers of any prominence who chose Sinhalese as his primary language. He was fascinated by the culture of his island and worked tirelessly to both nurture and promote it.

One of his projects was a Sri Lankan Folk Museum, which we visited after touring the cabin. The museum is deceptively large, with a fascinating collection of the tools, masks, fashions and utensils of Sri Lanka’s past. Nearly every item was described in both English and Sinhalese. My favorites were a set of antiquated board games, and the recreation of an amazing 7th century Monsoon Furnace uncovered near Ratnapura.

I already knew that the early Sinhalese were considered ancient masters of engineering for their irrigation projects, but this really blew my mind. They had set up west-facing iron-smelting furnaces to capture the winds of the yearly monsoons. Modern engineers scoffed at the idea, until recreating it themselves. The monsoon winds are steady and strong enough to produce high-quality iron, and the furnaces generated up to ten tons annually.

The Martin Wickramasinghe Museum was an unexpected highlight. It was crowded with Sri Lankan families, but we were the only foreigners present. That’s a shame — tickets are only 200 rupees per person, and the exhibits provide an unforgettable glimpse into the island’s culture.

Location on our Sri Lanka Map
Galle Hotels

Martin-Wickramasinghe-Desk
Temple-Triacle
Wagon-Sri-Lanka
Very-Old-Sri-Lankan-Kitchen
Cocunut-Sekkuwa
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April 26, 2012 at 3:19 am Comments (3)

Tuk-Tuking around Sri Lanka

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“Why didn’t we think of that?!” “Our lives would be so much easier.” “It would be so much fun.” “Man, I’m so jealous!” These are among the sentences which found their way into our conversations, after we had met Marc and Carina at our guesthouse in Polonnaruwa. The Belgian couple earned our everlasting respect after revealing that they had rented a tuk-tuk for their three month journey around Sri Lanka.

Tuk-Tuk-Travels

Over dinner, Marc and Carina shared their experiences in the tuk-tuk. With the freedom of their own transport, they were able to see a lot more than us and have interacted with locals in a more authentic way — puttering around in their tuk-tuk won them instant respect. And they’ve even taken passengers, packing schoolkids into the back for a free ride home. It would have been perfect for Jürgen and I, who were schlepping around a lot of luggage, and constantly on the road.

Who are you?
Marc de Kyusscher (52 years) and Carina (50 years), both Belgian, with one happily married son. Our favorite hobby has always been traveling, but because of work, we’ve always had to stick to short trips. Now that we’re semi-retired, we’re finally able to see the world without any time pressure…

When and why did you start travelling?
Our journey began on June 5th, 2011 — also our 30th anniversary. We’ve always dreamed of doing a trip around the world. Our son is 27 years old and we always said that when he marries, we’ll begin our dream. Last year, it happened! We sold our house, got our son’s blessing, and took off. We have worked our whole lives for the chance to do this, and finally are able to enjoy the fruits of our labor. We’re renting an apartment back home, so that we have a place to go when our journeys are over.

From Belgium, we took bicycles to Cappadocia, in Turkey. After a quick interlude back home, we explored India for three months on an “Enfield Bullet” motorcycle. And now, Sri Lanka…

Why Sri Lanka?
We arrived in Sri Lanka on February 27th, and planned to stay until May 27th [Due to a death in the family, Marc and Carina had to return home at the end of April]. Why so long? Well, because we read everywhere that the country has it all: mountains, nature, national parks, the sea, beaches, hospitality and various religions that live together. We were also extremely interested in seeing how the North of Sri Lanka is recovering after the war, which just ended in 2009.

And why with tuk-tuk?
We always want to travel independently, and not rely on bus or train. So we always search for our own transportation method. A scooter wouldn’t work here, since we have too much luggage, and we weren’t able to find a car. We tried to think of a vehicle that would keep us connected with the environment and the people… and that’s when we had the idea to rent a tuk-tuk! Turns out, there aren’t many places where it’s possible to do so, but we found one in Negombo called “Alma Tours”, at Lewis Place 217.

How much did it cost? And were there any formalities?
The price is unbelievable: 1200 Rupees (about €7) a day. You need an international driver’s license and a permit from the “Automobile Association” in Colombo, which costs just 1500 Rupees a year. We also took out a fully comprehensive insurance for €30.

Tuk-Tuk-Map

Is it dangerous driving?
Outside of the cities, it’s wonderful to drive — quiet and very little traffic. But the buses and trucks clearly feel that they’re “masters of the street” and blast right past you. We always give them a ton of room… they never have patience, and drive like crazy!

There are plenty of gas stations, and in every small town you can find shops where you can get “bottles” of petrol. But only do so in an emergency! It’s common to find cheap and dirty gas, and you pay more. We always took an extra five-liter canister with us. You never know! Five liters can take you about 140km. And in the tuk-tuk, parking is never a problem.

Have you had any problems?
Once, the tuk-tuk began to putter, and then wouldn’t go back on. The problem? Dirty benzine and/or air in the petrol line. A policeman helped us right away to air out the line, which took care of the problem.

Another time, a screw popped free and fell into the motor, between the valves — probably during our bumpy tour through Wipattu Park. The path was so bad and full with mud after the rain, that the screw must have been “shaken” free. In a workshop, they took the entire motor apart, which took around five hours. We also did an oil change at the same time — the cost for everything was 2700 Rs (€16).

Worst moments in the tuk-tuk?
Flat tires and awful streets.

Best moments?
With the tuk-tuk, it was always wonderful! It’s incredible, and the best way of traveling!

This is especially true since you kind of belong to the locals, many of whom also drive tuk-tuks. When they see a tourist driving one, they always laugh and try to help out. When we stop, they immediately ask if there’s some way they can assist. It’s the BEST! We’d love to take the tuk-tuk with us back to Belgium! As long as you’re a little adventurous, it’s a wonderful way to travel.

Check out photos from their journey: Cycle2gether

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April 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm Comments (8)

A Sea Turtle Excursion at Rekawa Beach

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Sri Lanka has the extraordinary privilege of welcoming five of the world’s seven species of sea turtle to its shores. The turtles, who travel around the world and across entire oceans, somehow know to return to their natal beaches when the time comes to reproduce. At night, they emerge from the ocean and lay their eggs in the sand. At Rekawa Beach, the Turtle Conservation Project keeps a watchful eye over the eggs and provides tourists a rare opportunity to see the giant creatures clamber onto land.

Rekawa-Turtle-Watching

We showed up at 8pm, on April 11th — the same day as the massive 8.6 earthquake in Sumatra which sparked a tsunami warning across Sri Lanka. So we had accepted the possibility that the rough weather and seismic instability might discourage the turtles from braving the shore. But after only a few minutes of waiting in the dark (which afforded us the chance to admire the stars; something we’d missed in bright, densely-packed Sri Lanka), a flashlight down the beach alerted us to the presence of a turtle.

The turtles require a sense of solitude while they make their way out of the water. If they detect a human, they’ll abandon their attempt and return another day. Leaving behind an interesting track that looks like a Monster Truck’s tire, they head towards the shrubbery at end of the beach, and choose a spot for their eggs which is safe from the water and (hopefully) predators. People are allowed to approach only once the turtles have started the process of laying the eggs, which can take over a half-hour and during which they’ll remain absolutely immobile.

We waited patiently while the turtle, barely visible in the dark from about twenty meters away, chose a suitable place for her future babies. Unfortunately, something spooked her, because our guide suddenly urged us to run towards her on the beach, as she was escaping back into the water. A huge and beautiful creature, she could move a lot faster than I would have believed and I felt awful chasing after her, trying to snap pictures.

That was it. The guide brought us back and asked for our 2000 Rupee donation. We were disappointed — the night had just begun, and we didn’t understand why we couldn’t wait for the next turtle. But, he didn’t seem to care; we had seen our turtle, and now he could return to hanging out in the hut with his buddies.

Oh well. We had just seen a wild sea turtle on a deserted beach during a beautifully starry night. In the end, it was hard to complain.

Location on our Sri Lanka Map

Turtle Tracks
Star Night Sri Lanka
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April 24, 2012 at 3:33 am Comments (5)

The Bizarre Landscape of Ussangoda

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East of Tangalla, a barren landscape sits in the middle of an otherwise heavily forested area. Dark red soil and an utter lack of trees are the hallmarks of Ussangoda, a region thought to have been hit by an ancient meteor. It’s hard to imagine another explanation for this strange anomaly of nature.

Bizarre Beaches

The walk from the main road, where the bus from Galle dropped us off, to the small park took longer than expected, but only because we were detained by a group of Sri Lankans playing cricket. I decided to try out the sport, and picked up a bat. Whiff! The ball sailed right past me and struck one of the wickets… which, judging by the overjoyed reaction of my 8-year-old opponent, I took to be a rather embarrassing failure. Hmph. My next swing made up for it, as I sent the ball far off into the brush. Cricket: mastered. 8-year-old: conquered.

The empty plain of Ussangoda borders the ocean, with lovely cliffs that drop off onto the beach. We clambered down, disturbing the privacy of a few enamored couples, and found an empty patch of sand. I tried swimming for a bit, but the sea was too rough and, after being upended by a monster wave, I retreated for the safety of my towel.

This was a fun and easy excursion from Tangalla into a surreal patch of nature, and definitely worth the pocket change it required to reach. On a calmer day, with a bit of swimming on a largely isolated beach, it would have been perfect.

Location on our Sri Lanka Map

Hotels in Tangalle

Meteor Sri Lanka
Ways To Sri Lanka
Read Feather
Alice in Wonderland
Eearth Day
Contrast-Landscapes-Sri-Lanka
Cactus Rock
Aliens Spiders
Strange Beaches
Dream Beach Sri Lanka
Ussangoda-Bay
Biker Beach Sri Lanka
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April 23, 2012 at 11:15 am Comment (1)

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Friend-Friends and Other Observations
Confusing slang, seat-snatching monks, bizarre Spanish phrases, indecipherable head bobbles... all just part of learning to live with a new culture! These are some of our favorite quirks and misunderstandings from three months in Sri Lanka.
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