Monday, February 12, 2018

Farewell Sri lanka

A few pics from our early morning beach walk yesterday .....
These narrow fishing boats (powered by an outboard motor) come into shore at a great rate of knots - but there's no jetty or mooring point here. The boats have to be physically lifted up onto the beach before the day's catch can be unloaded. 
It's hard work, inch by inch  ...........
But it looks like a good day's catch .....

It's been a perfect end to a fabulous holiday to have a few nights here on the beach at Hikkaduwa. It's like Kuta Beach in Bali must have been 30 years ago, but no touts, no traffic jams and not too many Australians either. No doubt the beautiful Villa 46 with its smiling, well trained staff has made it extra special for us here too.

We fly out of Colombo at 12.20am tonight and get back to Canberra a bit before 7.00pm tomorrow EAST. The flight home after a holiday is never something to look forward to but we'll take some wonderful memories of this holiday back with us.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

To Hikkaduwa

The popular beach resort town of Hikkaduwa is only a bit over 20klm from Galle so it was a short drive yesterday morning before we were travelling through the small fishing villages that line the coast - and catching a good look at these ginormous water monitors, scavenging the fishy remains from the day's catch in the boat harbour.

The beaches along this coast are home to marine turtles and exotic fish, but the turtles in particular are under real threat because so few of their eggs survive. We visited a small scale turtle hatchery which is doing a great job in addressing some of the challenges, but probably too little in the grand scheme of things.

These little cuties had only been hatched a day. They will be released in the sea when they're not much bigger! 
We saw a very rare albino turtle.
This area was devastated in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. Over 20,000 lives were lost in Sri Lanka and 12,500children were left orphans. We talked to a number of villagers today in the process of visiting little makeshift museums and memorials who'd lost whole families (as well as all their possessions) on that terrible day.

There is a very humble memorial to this earth shattering event, by the beach ......

This much larger one was built by the Japanese government. Both memorials commemorate the over 1,700 fatalities that resulted when a crowded passenger train (families heading for a day at the beach!) was struck by the second wave of the tsunami (estimated at 7.5 - 9 metres high).

After this sobering experience it was a complete change of pace to arrive at our Hikkaduwa accommodation - the beautiful Villa 46. It's a boutique hotel on the beach - only four bedrooms so it feels like home - but with a number of very well trained staff and our own chef. It's owned by the Sri Lankan cricketer Marvan Atapattu. Beautiful!
I've never met a palm tree I didn't like and the sound of crashing waves is bliss to my ears.

We had to catch the sunset over the Laccadive Sea ........

After a sunset walk this is what awaited us back at Villa 46 - the table set for dinner (which was wonderful) and Moon River on the playlist! Does it get any better than this?

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Walking the fort - Galle

There's not much to do in Galle Fort other than go walking, take pictures and SHOP. So being the good tourists we are that's basically what we did this morning.

These pics are of our hotel - the adjoining villa where our rooms are ....
 .. and the reception area of the main part of our hotel, The Fort Printers ........
 After a bit of jewellery shopping at the venerable Ibrahim's on Church Street we set out walking .... past the Dutch Reformed (Groot Kerk) Church (1755), 
and then through a passage opening in the fort wall, past the famous Galle International Cricket Ground where the busy, bustling real city of Galle starts ...
 There are fish markets spread along the edge of Galle Harbour ......

 We re-enter the fort by the old gate.

 The fort area is really very photogenic when you look past all the shops and nicnackery for tourists.

 We are all feeling the heat here. The fort walls seem to block the sea breezes and the dark grey cobbled streets absorb all the heat from the sun. It's humid too.

We managed to find a lovely spot for lunch - A Minute by Tuk Tuk, upstairs in the converted Dutch Hospital building facing out to sea (with lovely sea breezes) near the Aurora Bastion. I was game enough to try my first salad in Sri Lanka (not advisable usually in Asia) - so nice! 

Only thing missing (tragically) was a glass of beer. Today is election day in Sri Lanka and alcohol is banned on election days!!!!!

Friday, February 9, 2018

To Galle

We woke to a beautiful clear morning on Lake Castlereigh this morning after all the rain yesterday - so it was an extra sad sight to see the boat approaching to take us away from our beautiful bungalow at the Ceylon Tea Trails - but hopefully not forever!
We had a six hour drive ahead of us, taking forever through the narrow, windy, slow moving roads and spectacular landscapes of the central highlands until we get to the faster moving main highway heading south to Galle on Sri Lanka's SW coast.

We eventually arrived at our hotel in Galle Fort a bit after 3.30pm. The fortified old city of Galle where we are staying was established by the Portuguese in the 16th century, expanded during Dutch rule and then consolidated by the British. The architecture of Galle Fort reflects all of its European past.
 Its about a 2 and a 1/2 klm walk around the ramparts of the old city's fort walls so we set out to go as far as we could before sunset. We started at Aurora Bastion looking out to Lighthouse Beach.

 By now we were feeling extremely hot and sweaty - the late afternoon sun was baking hot.

 So we did the only sensible thing and stopped for a Lion beer at the Rampart Hotel to wait it out until the magical sunset hour .......

 We are staying at the historic old Fort Printers Hotel in the centre of the old town. We are staying in our own wing of this boutique hotel with a small kitchen and living/dining area for our own use. Galle Fort is another UNESCO World Heritage Site so there are very significant restrictions on the ways buildings can be altered or renovated. Our hotel is full of quirks and character!
 It hasn't taken us long to realise that Galle Fort is an extremely popular tourist hotspot now.. The streets are filled with British and Asian tourists and every second shop sells jewellery or wooden elephants. We're glad we only have a full day here .......

However, along with the tourists Galle Fort does have some excellent gelati vendors, friendly cafes and great opportunities to drink beer at sunset, so all is not lost!!