Sri Lanka, Mirissa and Galle (26 – 28 May)

When we arrived at Mirissa we were quite tired of a long bus ride. We wanted to get to the hotel quickly and get the room and have dinner. It was obvious that this city suffers from a lack of tourists due to recent events in Sri Lanka. There were few tourists and most hotels had outdoor signs that the rooms were offered at half price. When we arrived at our hotel, at first glance it was questionable whether this place was open at all. Apart from us, there were no other guests or employees. We waited for a while and we called our presence, but nothing. Finally, we found a doorway around the corner where the host of the hotel was and he was obviously surprised to see us. It was understandable that the hotel has not had guests for a long time, because the registration procedures obviously overwhelmed him. Finally, we got the room and went to look for food. This was also difficult because many eateries were closed due to lack of visitors. However, we didn’t distract ourselves from these inconveniences and hoped that the next days would go smoothly and pleasantly.

The next day in the morning we went to discover the local beach, which was one of the most beautiful in the whole island. One local old man allowed us to use free beach chairs and sunshades on the beach, and we had a delicious and nutritious smoothie from the nearby beach bar. We spent the whole day at the beach resting, swimming and reading. Water was pleasantly cool compared to hot Cambodia or Malaysia. Jaanus was able to observe the huge merchant ships passing by the island throughout the day.

In the evening, we walked on a cliff at the seashore and enjoyed the sun’s sunset there. Later we went to the beachside restaurant, where we tried the local dish called Kottu. It was immediately added to our list of favorite foods.

The other day we had planned a longer trip. We first went by bus to the beach of Dalawella, because we had read from someone’s blog that there was a swing on the palm tree. We spent a couple of hours on the beach, swinging, enjoying the water and also had a good lunch. As we already mentioned in the previous post, bus travel in Sri Lanka is relatively easy, cheap and they run all day long quite often. You just have to get the right bus, and since locals speak English quite good then we always got on the right bus easily.

The next stop was the town of Galle, where we wanted to visit the historic Galle fortress. Galle was founded by the Portuguese in the 16th century and in 1640 the city fell into the hands of the Dutch. In order to defend their victory, the Dutch built a fortress around the peninsula with bastions and walls, now on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The rest of the day we spent between the walls of the castle. Walking there is like traveling in time, as most of the buildings inside the fortress are well restored or preserved. Jaanus liked the lighthouse in the fortress.

Kaija shopped at the local jewelry shop and admired the precious stones of Sri Lanka. Namely, we were looking for a birthday present for Kaija’s mother and, as a surprise for Kaija, she also got a new ring for the wedding anniversary.
The jewelry seller was extremely pleasant and helpful. Offered coffee and arranged the ring to the right size right away.

In the evening we took a bus back to our home town of Mirissa, and the next morning we had to get on the train early to return to Colombo first and then to Negombo to the same hostel where we spent the first night in Sri Lanka.

When we arrived in Colombo, we faced the problem that our accommodation can only be paid in cash and we no longer had enough local money. We did not want to use the atm because we needed a relatively small amount and the service fee would be a relatively high percentage. So we wanted to exchange our remaining euros in the hope that the service fee would be lower.

Looking for currency exchange, one local old man offered his help. The old man was very talkative and pleasant and walked us into a currency exchange where there was a pretty good exchange rate and, overall it was cheaper to exchange there than to take money from the atm. Since we also wanted to eat something, the old man kindly agreed to take us to one good place nearby. However, this did not go as smoothly as we hoped, because the place he was thinking was actually relatively far away, and without discussing with us he took the tuk-tuk and pushed us smoothly there. He ensured us that it is very cheap and because she is local, we do not have to pay as much as usual. We were a little tired of the train ride ourselves, and we did not have the strength to argue with him and at that point, we didn’t realize anything bad. The eatery we went to was a very good and relatively cheap Indian restaurant. We also offered the old man to eat for his kindness. After that, we continued to go through the old man’s urging recommendation through a souvenir shop, because for some reason we had mentioned that we wanted to buy a tea. On the way back to the bus station, the tuk-tuk driver and the old man started to argue about something – namely the price. Don’t know if the old man was just naive hoping he would get a cheap price because he was local or this was some kind of scam, but finally we had to pay 2000 rupees, which is about 10 euros. For the same amount of money, we took Uber from our hostel in Negombo to Colombo on the first day. So we were a bit outraged that we had been fooled like this because we didn’t actually want to get around that way. To make even the lost money, we decided to go back to Negombo by bus, which was cheaper and we were happy that nothing more serious did happen to us – it could have gone much worse. We were surprised at the fact that something like this hasn’t happened to us so far, so there is nothing to be frustrated about it. We were probably just tired and we were naïve to believe the old man’s fairy tale.

When we arrived at a familiar hostel, we went to the shop and bought a meal for the evening, and made preparations for the next morning flight to Turkey, Istanbul.

All in all, we were very happy that we decided to come to Sri Lanka despite recent events. Sri Lanka treated us with very good food and beautiful beaches. From there we finally found a beach of paradise as we have been looking for the whole trip – the beach where palms grow directly on the beach and are inclined towards the water.

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