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Mike Cathy and Katja in Sri Lanka Part 3 out of 7

exploring sri lanka’s western province part I

“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”
Lao Tzu

One of the (many) great things about this trip was that we had no real plans, it was a “take it as it comes” sort of trip. For us, it most definitely worked as we had the opportunity to experience and live the real Sri Lanka.

Friday DSC06077

After having had a nice meal we popped over to the beach. At this point we started noticing how very friendly Sri Lankans are. Some want something from you but others are just curious to find out about where you are from as well as to practice their English. One such chap who’s name escapes me came and started chatting with us on the beach. He showed us how to catch crab fish from the sand (Eric got the hang of it quickly, I didn’t…….at all). He then brought his mate who climbed up a coco nut tree and brought us down fresh coconuts, peeled them and chopped them, we then had coconut milk directly from the coconut. I really didn’t have the heart to tell him I can’t stand coconuts! He “casually” mentioned he was a tour guide and if we were interested in visiting places he had a mini bus he could take us in. we mentioned we were interested in seeing the Elephants, Botanical Gardens and the Temple of the Sacred Tooth. He gave us a price and we just left it at that. We were also given a price by someone else before deciding to go with the chap from the beach; we did this on Tuesday.

Saturday IMG_1013

Having chilled on Friday, we popped over to reception and ordered a couple of Tuk Tuks to take us into town and in particular to any big markets. We headed off to Panadura market which was pretty big. Loads and loads of fish stalls (not quite my cup of tea but still…) as well as numerous shops and stalls selling fruits, veg, clothes etc, etc, etc. we had a wander around trying to take it all in and then headed back to our Tuk Tuks which were waiting for us. After that it was off back tot the hotel to chill out by the pool and have some food before heading to the beach to play. If you are planning to visit Sri Lanka (which I would whole-heartedly recommend), it’s important to be aware that the beaches in this area have pretty strong currents. Locals go for swims etc, but don’t venture too far out. If you are looking for a beach holiday with swimming etc, etc, it is probably best to head further South towards Galle.


One person’s reality is another person’s adventure.


The best adventures are the ones not planned. I appreciate that in some cases planning is required (fail to plan, plan to fail and all that) but sometimes it is great to just “go with the flow”. We decided that we would catch a train and head off to Galle. We arranged for a couple of Tuk Tuks to take us to the train station. We arrived at the station and bought some tickets to Galle. We were advised by a very friendly chap (who would later change our day) to buy second class tickets as they are better than third class. Obviously we looked like we couldn’t afford first class, either that, or first class wasn’t running on a Sunday! We purchased our tickets to Galle which is approximately 1.5 hrs on the express train and then waited for the train to arrive. We got chatting to the friendly chap who told us to buy second class tickets, it turns tout he lives in Jersey and is a French language student there. We chatted for a long time and then our train arrived. It wasn’t as quiet as we had been lead to believe but it seems to be that you can always squeeze a few more in. Eric and family squeezed their way in and found some standing space as did Cathy and Katja. I sort of squeezed in between a few people hanging out of the doors, great fun! Katja soon got chatting and playing with a couple of local kids and had a great time. We settled into our standing positions enjoying the fresh air from the open doors in the carriageway while holding onto whatever one could to try and avoid falling onto someone causing them to fall off the train and a certain death! During all this we continued to chat with Mr friendly chap and he suggested we don’t go to Galle but get off at Ambalangoda which is one stop before Galle. He suggested we took the river tour, visited the mines, the turtles and the temple. Having not gone out with any plans in particular, we took his advice!

Part IV – Exploring the Western Province

Mike Cathy and Katja in Sri Lanka Part 4 out of 7

Exploring sri lanka’s western Province Part II

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
Marcel Proust

Ambalangoda IMG_1119

We arrived in Ambalangoda around an hour after leaving Panadura, the nice chap who suggested we stopped here came out and negotiated good rates with a couple of local Tuk Tuks which were waiting outside before he disappeared to catch another connecting train to his home town. I am not sure if he had any vested interest in us visiting these places or not. After a while you do become a little suspicious and wonder if they are being friendly or just want something from you. At face value he didn’t as he vanished after helping us out with the Tuk Tuks, I guess we will never know!

River Cruise

A short Tuk Tuk ride from the station we arrived at the river cruise place. The cruise was a couple of hours long and you visited the numerous islands on the way.IMG_1054 The nice chap on the train had told us what the price was but just to be on the safe side I checked with the people there first. They quoted me a slightly higher price; I soon sorted that out and we were charged the price the chap on the train had told us. We set off on our boat cruise and shortly after leaving and much to Katja’s delight, we came across someone on a boat with a monkey, yes, I know, very random! But for a small fee we could hold the monkey and take photos etc, etc! After giving this random chap some money for letting us hold his monkey, we were off again. The next stop was at a river fish foot massage place. It was quite an interesting experience to dip our feet and have fish come up to us and nibble at our feet. This was then followed by a yet another random moment in which they brought out a baby crocodile which we could pet, this baby crocodile eventually made it onto my head. As you can probably guess, they too wanted some money! The tour took us to another island where we visited a temple and had some string bracelets given to us by  a monk. This was then followed by Cinamon island and then back to base. Katja charmed the guide and he let her steer the boat, once again, much to her delight!

Temple IMG_1110

Our Tuk Tuk drivers were waiting for us and were ready to hit the road once again. We decided to scrap the turtles and mine, and just go to another temple which was highly recommended before heading back to the train station. The temple was located in a pretty remote area, I was wondering if the 100 cc Tuk Tuk would actually make it all the way there! Fortunately it did. This temple is currently undergoing work as you can see from the scaffolding but houses some amazing paintings and sculptures. The views from the surrounding gardens were amazing. The whole place offered peace and tranquility which was a very welcome change from the hustle and bustle of the roads and trains. We then headed back down the hill, made a quick stop at a local bakery and headed off to the train station. The ride home wasn’t as busy as the way out, Cathy even manage to have a seat, this was thanks to a local who gave her his seat! This meant we could take in the beautiful scenery throughout the trip. The train runs pretty much parallel to the beach; so as you can probably imagine, the views are simply breath-taking pretty much all along the way. As we pulled into Panadura station, I decided to do a little video which is just below:

Panadura Train Station


Part V – Exploring the western Province