9 May 2012
Wow, what a morning.
After waking at the break of dawn and fortifying myself with 3 pots of Ceylon tea and breakfast, Howard and I set off in a tuk-tuk with the friendly Amal for a 3 hour speed tour of Negombo.
First stop, a sim card for my beloved i-Pad. Hopefully it will work, it won’t be ready to go for 1 hour and the instructions are a bit vague, but for SRP 550, it’s not a huge risk. Then we visit the beach where the locals dry the fish on the sand, in the sun (boy, that looks like hot back-breaking work).
Then to the fish markets (umm interesting smells and sights).
Then to the old Portuguese fort (which is now a prison). Next stop is the Negombo harbor and lagoon (the fleet of prawn boats have a big square sail and no motor, they sail into port and then pole to their resting point in the mud).
Then the tamil temple (which is closed). Then the herbal medicine gardens (the tour is free of course, but they really, really, really don’t mind if you richly reward them for the 15 minute tour of 4 plants and we are not at all pressured into buying some herbal remedies for highly inflated prices).
Then the small local buddhist temple (wow, very old, very colorful and very impressive).
All that for SRP1600 (A$13).
Back to The Cove Villa for a late lunch, which I love. Cove Villa is a privately owned house, with rooms rented out when not in use by the owners. It’s just like the photo’s on tripadvisor, except a bit grotty. Its right on the beach and to be able to wake up and go to the balcony and watch all the traditional sail boats fishing for prawns and crab on the harbor is amazing. The staff are great – 5 men, a manager, a chef, a guy who does all the talking, an outdoor young guy who does not speak at all and the other guy – don’t know what he does. Oh yeah, there is the man that stays overnight too – his name is Siva and he loves to talk too. Anyway there are only 4 people staying here in the 3 rooms. So we are well attended.
When we get back to the Villa we arrange for the chef to cook us lunch – a vegetarian and a prawn curry with rice. He also cooked up dahl, a coconut salad, a beetroot salad, papadums and other assorted condiments. Very good curry, which had been freshly prepared from scratch – it only took 1 1/2 hours. A dozen good sized prawns. Delicious!
Negombo beach is a working fishing beach first and a tourist beach second. There are quite a few resorts, which are practically empty as it’s being low season. But there are hundred of boats on the beaches, and smiling locals going about their business.
Our observations on Sri so far:
Its cleaner and the footpaths are safer than places like Bali and Phuket. There are only a handful of hawkers on the beach selling sarongs. The tuk tuk drivers are the same as everywhere. The food is pretty spicy – there is hot and then there is Sri Lankan hot. The locals have a blatant disregard of the finer points of road safety and seem to think that the smaller the vehicle the fewer rules you have to obey. You know, things like driving on the right side of the road and giving way to anyone. Also we notice that no one smokes here, which is amazing in a third world county. We have found it very cheap, but everywhere you go people have their hands out for a bit of cash. So in the end it all adds up to be costly.