9th Sept, 17 Colombo
We have finally arrived to Colombo after 2 overnight flights. We are exhausted and we can’t wait to go to asleep in a comfortable bed. We find a bus just outside of the airport, its destination is the central bus station so we get on it. It takes about 40 minutes to arrive to the centre, we get off and ask some locals if they can show us to a taxi. A tuktuk driver tells us that there are no car taxis but he can take us to one, as we are so tired instead of arguing with him, we follow him. He takes us to his friend who has a car and he says it will cost 3500 rupees to take us to our apartment, we know that they are lying to us big time, as a short 10 minutes drive would cost even less in the UK.
We are exhausted so we can’t be bothered to argue with them after taking the price down to 2200 rupees thinking that we will just talk to our airbnb host and not pay that much at the end of the trip cause they are clearly trying to take as much as they can. The driver heads off to the wrong direction, luckily we have google maps so we direct him to the apartment. When we get there, we explain what happened to our host and he tries to talk to the driver, he screams and he is very angry with us and says that we got into his car for 2200 so we need to pay him the full amount. It takes ages until he finally leaves with 1500.
Learning point: use a tuktuk instead of cars and ask your host how much the journey should cost between the apartment/hotel and wherever you are coming from. Uber is also a great choice, and Colombo offers Uber and a really good price so there is no haggling and no chance of being ripped off, we used it the next day and worked perfectly, just have to make sure you have data or wifi.
10th-12th Sept Aluthgama, Bentota
Catching a train from Maradana instead of Fort Railway appears to have been a good idea as we managed to find a seat for both of us which would have been impossible from Fort Railway. For all trains heading south they begin at Maradana. The train goes along the beautiful coast and Nick captures some awesome pictures on his new gopro (what a nice leaving present to get from work).
Our apartment is a really modern apartment with air-con and a washing machine as well. We are given Sri Lankan style breakfast, not convinced with having curry for breakfast yet but our host is a good cook. We recommend Veenu apartments if you are ever in Aluthgama.
We are woken up by the Muslim prayers at 4:45am, not quietly but really loudly, they seem to try to make sure that everyone is awake at that time even though they are a minority in Sri Lanka. It comes across pretty forceful, I understand they want to pray as it is their religion but why can they not show respect to others in the village, why do they have to wake everyone else up that early (As of the 2011 census 70.19% of Sri Lankans were Theravada Buddhists, 12.6% were Hindus, 9.7% were Muslims (mainly Sunni) and 7.4%Christians). This encourages me to consider why Muslims complain in the European nations and what it would be like if they push their ways of doing things onto the Western world.
We go to the Bentota beach for a day, it is completely empty, so it was like having our very own private beach, we decided to walk back to the apartment. On the way back we had many people try to sell us trips on the river or tuk tuk rides, one guy followed us and spoke about boat trips for at least 10 minutes we only wanted to take a photo of the river and go grab lunch. Sassi is sunburnt by the end of the day. We feel refreshed and rested only until tomorrow morning when we will carry on with our journey.
We decide that staying in one place for only 2 nights is not a good idea, you rest up a little and then up you go onto the next train. And the constant packing becomes a little draining as well. After Sri Lanka we have mostly 3 night stays, which should be better.
12th-14th Sept Galle
We arrive to Galle with a direct train from Aluthgama, the journey takes about an hour and 10 minutes. We then get a tuktuk to our accommodation which is about 15 mins drive away from the centre. Our host is doing some work in our accommodation’s bathroom so we decide to get a bus into Galle, we also need lunch and there are no restaurants near to our apartment. By this point we have figured out that shops don’t sell a lot of things in Sri Lanka, there are a limited food supplies that you can buy. On a plus side buses and trains are super cheap and I mean really cheap, we paid less than a pound for the train and for the bus it was around 25p… and that was for the both of us.
Our host directs us to the bus stop but doesn’t tell us which side of the road to wait and there are no signs, luckily someone tells us that we are not standing on the right side so we cross the street but nearly give up on waiting for the bus and get a tuktuk as it takes ages until one appears. This is our first proper Sri Lankan bus experience, the bus is crammed with people and we are pretty much hanging out of the door. We eat at a traditional Sri Lankan restaurant where locals eat and as we don’t know what’s what and what we can order, the owner brings us a variety of food, the only thing we don’t really like is a coconut fish curry, the rest is tasty.
We then head to the Galle Fort, the journey takes quite a while on foot which my knee is struggling with, we should have got a tuktuk but didn’t know it was going to be this far. Actually that reminds me that I should tell you that overall my knee has been much stronger and I have not taken many painkillers at all. Thank you God.
But the view is worth it, what a beautiful coastline.
Our apartment awaits us after a tuktuk journey, but what do we come back to… lots of bugs and ants inside, how lovely. Nick wakes up with huge bites but the bugs don’t seem to like my blood as much, lets hope this doesn’t change any time soon. We head off to the beach for the day which is only 10 minutes walk away from us, Nick is not feeling too well so he chills while I chat and pray with a stranger and then go for a little swim although the sea is pretty wild in the rainy season, there are lots of surfers around, I would like to try surfing one day. If you like surfing the Sri Lankan coastline is the right choice for you for holiday.
Back to the apartment after another Sri Lankan lunch, there was only one place where we could eat. We then have a power cut, oh no, I am supposed to be teaching English. Lucky, we have bought 4G internet just the day before so it fills the gap while the power comes back on. And lucky us, next to our accommodation there is refurbishing work going on with loads of noise, so much fun for professional English teaching online, not! And more bites on Nick by the morning.
14th-16th Sept Mirissa
After much research we are a bit worried whether there are direct trains to Mirissa or not, there are conflicting reviews online. According to reviews, Mirissa is a very small train station and the train doesn’t always stop or if it does, there might not be any tuktuks to take us to our apartment. Our host pays for the tuktuk to the train station, we are informed that our train is delayed by half an hour which then turns into nearly an hour, first delayed train in Sri Lanka. The train does stop in Mirissa at least, the platform at Mirissa train station is very small so we end up getting off in the middle of the train track and need to wait until the train passes by, Nick picks up both of the suitcases and walks quite a while along the train tracks until he can put them down. We have been smiling about goats and people walking around train tracks which would sound ludicrous in England until we had to do it too. Fortunately there is a tuktuk at the Mirissa station that can take us to our next accommodation.
We are very hungry by the time we arrive but we then find that there are no restaurants nearby and the guys who welcome us can’t speak in English and tell us that we can use a motorbike to get into the centre of Mirissa if we want food. We are not sure about that really so ask them to order a tuktuk for us, luckily the owner arrives who takes us into the centre where we do shopping and eat lunch while he picks his daughter up from school and takes us back to the apartment after.
We have time to check the beach out before we get picked up, another beautiful beach. Mirissa looks a lot more touristy and there are lots of backpackers everywhere, there are lots of restaurants to choose from too. Buying anything that is not Sri Lankan is very expensive but we don’t really want to eat rice and noodles when it seems like that’s all we are going to be eating in Sri Lanka. We decide to buy enough food so that we don’t have to get a tuktuk back into town as our accommodation is pretty much in the middle of nowhere but it has beautiful surroundings and we are the only ones staying in the huge villa. This is definitely the most peaceful area we have stayed in so far.
The owner tells us that we can use his boat for free but Nick doesn’t look very comfortable with that idea especially after they tell us that the lake is windy so we ask someone to help us take the boat out in the morning. Rowing the boat isn’t as hard as it looks and with help it’s even easier. We then go for a walk and find a lovely view point near the house. Our afternoon, evening is spent by teaching English like most evenings so far.
We will be travelling the Udawalave National Park the next day but will be coming to an area nearby so we ask our hosts if we could drop one of our suitcases off before we head off so that we wouldn’t have to carry them through the various bus journeys we will need to take. The owner of the Mirissa apartment takes us there and also drops us to the bus stop after, what a kind host. If you want to book this place head to Thotupola Villa apartments.
We have been travelling for a week and we are very tired already. We have changed our route a little bit and decided to cut one of our destinations out so that we can stay in one area a little more, we are ensuring that we book for more than 2 nights in all future bookings.