Hello, hello! It’s been a little while since I’ve posted an update, mostly because we’ve spent a lot more time chilling and enjoying the south coast. But fear not, I still have a few entertaining anecdotes for you!
Charlie, Chloe and myself arrived in Mirissa just over 4 hours after leaving Ella and were all really glad to have splashed out a little for a taxi instead of a local bus, particularly considering the sweltering heat that engulfed us the moment we left Tea Country. We checked into our very basic but very cheap guesthouse, which nevertheless had four-poster beds with mosquito nets and fresh frangipani flowers laid out on the sheets, and headed to the beach.
And what a sight it was! It felt as if we had changed country, the vibe and scenery being so different to what we had seen until then. The beach at Mirissa is small and rather wild, albeit with bars and restaurants dotted along the front. We settled down for some lunch before walking the length of the beach and even went for a paddle, although the sea was rather rough.
However, being low season, it felt a little like a ghost town, with a fair few dilapidated hotels and nothing more to the place than the beach. The large snake thrashing around in the bathroom as I went to shower unfortunately didn’t do much to convince me to stay! So, the next morning, we hopped into a tuk tuk and tootled along to nearby Unawatuna. Interestingly, having been advised to avoid it and told that Mirissa was much better, we had no great expectations.
But, as we drove down the lane from the main road, the three of us looked at each other and smiled. In addition to the long beach, there were plenty of bars and restaurants and little shops. The moment we checked into the lovely Birdhouse and got a brand-new AC’ed large double room (with a beautiful bathroom) for less than what I was going to pay for a single room (the advantages of sharing!), we knew we were going to enjoy our stay. Having said that, I’m not sure it would be my cup of tea in high season!
We didn’t get up to a huge amount but did indulge in a sumptuous Ayurvedic massage and the traditional Shirodhara, an Ayurvedic treatment which involves warm oil being dripped onto your third eye for about 45 minutes and then massaged into your scalp and shoulders. We also made our way to Jungle Beach, which was, as its name would suggest, quite jungly and flip flops were certainly not appropriate footwear – especially after we saw another snake slither away and a number of very large lizards! Finally, I also attended a couple of yoga classes with Upali at the delightful Secret Garden, in a yoga dome tucked away in lush greenery – honestly, not much is more relaxing than Shavasana in dappled sunlight listening to the exotic birds chirp.
Feeling well and truly revitalised, and having said goodbye to Charlie, Chloe and I made our way to Galle on Saturday morning only to discover yet another totally different atmosphere. The setting is very colonial and European and the contrast between the Fort area and New Galle is rather shocking. Within the Fort, pretty much everything is targeted at tourists and most of it is incredibly chic – and has a price tag to match. We ambled around the walls, enjoyed an ice cream at Dairy King, indulged in some shopping and were quite glad to be restricted by our bags insofar as we would otherwise have been tempted to buy a hell of a lot more!
In contrast, Galle bus and train station is the closest to India I have experienced in Sri Lanka. Hundreds of people getting on and off buses, people shouting, people pushing, the heat, the smells – we’d kind of forgotten about it after our relaxing week! Then, this morning, we had to tackle it head on. And by that I mean that, loaded with my 2 bags, I had to climb onto the still-moving train, push past everyone else and successfully grab us a couple of seats for the 3-hour ride back to Colombo. And, as if that wasn’t enough, we arrived there with only 10min to exit the station, buy our tickets and hop onto the next train, which would take us to Negombo on a rather “local” journey.
So, here I am, hanging out at Chloe’s hostel, waiting for my tuk tuk to the nearby airport. Sri Lanka has been quite an experience, one I wasn’t necessarily prepared for – at least not in its entirety. I have seen some incredible places, experienced some crazy things, and I’m pleased to say I’ve been lucky enough to share a lot of it with two new friends. Saying goodbye to Chloe is not going to be easy, as we will both be starting from scratch in a way, back to travelling alone, so it is with a mixture of sadness, pride, nervousness, gratitude and excitement that I leave for the airport.