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Sri Lanka – Galle & Tangalle

March 13, 2019

The next day we hired a taxi to take us along the coast down to Tangalle. On the way we had planned to stop at Galle.

Our driver, Mical, sauntered in 45 minutes late. Soon after we started, he asked, “Sir! Ravana – what do you think? Good man or bad?”

Unsure of the most politically correct answer, I decided to take the middle ground, “He’s a complex character, with good and bad shades so it’s difficult to say. And what do you think?” I asked him.

“Ma’am sir! We think he is very good, but only one problem. He abducted Sita Amman. Otherwise everything else very good.”


“Ma’am sir! We think he is very good, but only one problem. He abducted Sita Amman. Otherwise everything else very good.”

The Moonstone Mines

Sri Lanka is known for its gemstone mining. Mical, stopped a little short of Galle at a gem factory where we got to see the process of mining moonstones, the process of refining them and finally creating jewels out of them. Ana and I both got a matching moonstone pendant as a souvenir from the mines.

Marine Turtles Protecting Centre

This was an unplanned stop for us. None of us had any idea about the amazing work that this centre is doing in terms of rescuing and rehabilitating turtles. The tsunami of 2004 affected the marine life, displacing, maiming and killing much of it. The Marine Turtles
Protecting Centre works with turtles to enable them to one day return to their natural habitat.

Tropical fruit on the way to Galle.

Galle

Galle is one of the major cities of Sri Lanka. The Portuguese built it as a major port city and the Dutch later went on to use it as one of the major ports of the country. We spent a long time walking along the cobblestone streets, ducking into souvenir shops, taking photos and sampling the local food. The National Maritime History Museum is in Galle, but we only had a couple of hours and wanted to spend it walking around the city. I’d read about Galle Things Roti, a restaurant specializing in rotis and curry and we had some great lunch there. I was also keen on having tea at the Amangalla hotel, a historic heritage hotel. While their tea isn’t special, the hotel has a lot of antique furniture which makes the ambience and the experience unique.

The Fort.

Tangalle

We reached our destination a little late. Tangalle is a quaint beach town. I was to teach yoga classes here for the next two days.

Travels & Other Escapades

Sri Lanka Diaries – Colombo

February 28, 2019

If you’ve read my previous post, or been following my Instagram and Facebook stories, you would know I’ve just returned from Sri Lanka. I’ve wanted to visit the island for a while. It’s a quick getaway from India and that makes it quite accessible.

Chennai Airport. Who’s the guy under Natraj’s foot? Wait to read about it in my book!

Sri Lanka is a tear dropped shaped island-country in the Indian Ocean, surrounded by the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. It was formerly a British colony and was called Ceylon. In 1948, it gained independence and in 1972 officially changed its name to Sri Lanka. Since then there have been many governments, much unrest and a Tusnami in 2004 that have challenged the nation. But the nation has slowly and steadily built itself up.

We landed at the Bandaranaike International Airport after a short flight. The airport is named after S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, the fourth prime minister of Sri Lanka. We had arranged to be picked up at the airport and the same driver would be with us the next day. We had half a day in Colombo and we wanted to make the most of it.

Welcome drink at the hotel.

1. The Dutch Hospital Precincts

This area is one of the oldest in Colombo. It contained the Dutch Hospital, which served the troops sailing in to the harbour. The Dutch Hospital building is the oldest building in Colombo. Now it houses some of the most famous restaurants and shops such as the Ministry of Crab and the Barefoot Café. You need reservations at the Ministry of Crab, so we decided to eat at the neighbouring The Dutch Pub. We tried Lion beer, which is Sri Lanka’s local brew. When in Sri Lanka, don’t miss the beer!

It’s hot in Sri Lanka – and a cold beer is always welcome.

Padangushtasana in the Dutch Hospital Precincts.

2. House of Fashion

The House of Fashion is a large multi-storied department store that has everything under one roof. So you have gift packs of tea, sarongs, books, incense, spices and even clothes, all displayed beautifully for the tourist in you. Someone had recommended picking up souvenirs from here. In addition to everything else, they also have clothes at great prices, and sure enough, I bought a bunch of tees for myself. Go if you have the time, you may end up finding a good deal.

Still trying to capture a good pose.
Right outside the House of Fashion.

3. Upali’s

Since our lunch consisted of pub grub, we decided that dinner should be Sri Lankan. We googled and found Upali’s. My first experience with Sri Lankan food was super spicy. The Delhi Belly I’ve never experienced in Delhi gave me much grief here.

While on the trip we tried to have Sri Lankan food whenever and wherever we could. There are many commonalities between South Indian and Sri Lankan food. So while dal, steamed rice, kottu roti, and hoppers were all familiar, there was a distinct flavour which was foreign to our tongues.

Our first day ended with us crawling into bed tired but feeling eager to head south along the coast to see the rest more of the country.

Some tips for travellers:

  1. You are charged a fee every time you use your card to draw money or to pay a bill. So plan accordingly.
  2. Ubers are more convenient than negotiating and potentially getting ripped off by tuk-tuks.
Shorts, huge sunglasses and flip flops – essentials of the Sri Lanka wardrobe.