Whale watching in Marissa

17 Mar

…But of course our day did get better as we had yet to eat Ajit’s grandmother’s food that she had prepared for us and the Danish guys who are staying here, Frederick and Matias. Whole sweet chillies, devilled chicken, spiced green beans, dhal and rice awaited us – delicious. I am not sure why they cook enough to feed an army but it’s so nice we are stuffing ourselves. I think we’ll have to spend the time on Koh Tao jogging :)

The next morning was an unpleasant start time of half three (Matias and Frederick think this is very confusing as in Danish, half three is 2:30) as we all were going to go whale watching in Marissa. It was fairly expensive at around £25 per head, so we were hoping it was going to be worth it. Whilst we waited for the bus, we maturely played with the light switch that is next to the guesthouse sign…it turns the street lights on and off for a kilometre :)

Unlike buses in England, they were all crammed full of people at 5am

…the bus had rows of two seats on the left, three seats on the right and a million people hanging on in the middle. And hang on we did – yet another bus driver with a death wish. We could actually feel the bus tipping and leaning as he sped towards Marissa. It was a bit like the Knight Bus in Harry Potter; it just felt like time must have sped up as we couldn’t (or shouldn’t) possibly be going that fast in real life! We did eventually get a seat but it was a blessing it was dark and the windows were blacked out as I dread to think of all the crazy overtaking that was going on. I look forward to the day we get on a bus or in a taxi and the driver isn’t an escaped lunatic. Ajit has a friend that is a bus driver and he goes even faster than our bus driver that morning apparently…he’s crashed “many times” according to Ajit and has been in trouble with the police for his driving but “luckily”, Ajit used to be a police officer and tells them not to take any action. Excellent.

Once we had got our breath back and checked all our limbs were still on, we got on the boat to go whale watching. The harbour was very pretty

and we were all given life jackets, which surprisingly, actually had to be worn rather than sat on like the last boat trip we took :)

After an hour or so, we got to the spot where the whales were meant to be. Pretty much immediately, the guides started pointing out 12 metre-high jets of water made by the blue whales’ blowholes. The boat took off towards them and I hoped that this wouldn’t be two hours of fruitless whale-chasing, as every time we (and the other five or six boats who had had the same idea), got close, the whales would disappear and then effortlessly reappear hundreds of metres away from where we were.

However, once the boat slowed down and waited, we got lucky

An incredible sight.

The largest animal ever known to have lived and we were very close to it! I think we saw six or seven in the end, including this one who was very near to our boat

We also saw a smattering of dolphins but they were further away than the whales

An amazing experience and one I am very glad we decided not to miss for budgetary reasons.

We stopped off at Galle and had lunch and began yet another cashpoint saga. I tried to take out 100,000 rupees as my Mastercard isn’t working here (the one that doesn’t charge me for using a foreign ATM) so I was trying to avoid being charged for taking out little amounts every time on my Visa card. Halfway through the transaction, the ATM said it had timed out and it was cancelled…but no receipt. I tried to take out 50,000 – this time it worked but only 10,000 came out…and no receipt. The lady in the bank said that only 10,000 had gone through and it would be ok, but I was a bit dubious as I had no way of checking this. I went to a different bank to take out more cash as we needed to pay for the whale watching and the hotel, but this time it would only give me 10,000 and then refused to work althogether. Sigh. Turns out that the first transaction was cancelled, the second was charged in full and then refunded and then my bank decided something dodgy was going on and blocked my account. Sigh. Hopefully that will be sorted soon…although having learnt from the last time this happened, we do have a small stash of Thai bhart and dollars if it isn’t.

A quick nap later (or a game of cricket with Ajit’s children in Craig’s case), I got up in time for the sunset

As we were leaving the next day to go to Hikkaduwa, and Frederick and Matias for Nepal, Ajit put on a special meal last night which took his mother and wife four hours to prepare

Dhal, deep fried whole stuffed chillies, spiced vegetables, curried leeks, spicy potatoes, devilled chicken and mountains of rice – they really outdid themselves and we ate so much we couldn’t move for an hour. Frederick and Matias have spent the last 10 days travelling round and they said the food here was the best they ate on the whole trip.

As we were all leaving, we decided it was time for a celebration and bought two bottles of coconut arrack, some ginger beer and Sprite

and headed to the beach for some hermit crab racing.

The beach was covered in hermit crabs of all sizes (some of which really didn’t appreciate being picked up and scuttled off immediately – you knew they were going to win!) and we spent an hour encouraging them to run to the edge of the pitch first and drinking arrack. What made it even more enjoyable was watching the lightening in the background as there was storm far out to sea

A lovely way to end a great couple of days in Akurala :)

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6 Responses to “Whale watching in Marissa”

  1. skinnywench 17 March 2012 at 8:35 am #

    I was so unwell when I went whale watching here – the captain asked me if I wanted to go out again !!!!! (free of charge) :)

    • toaustraliathelongway 17 March 2012 at 8:39 am #

      Haha Matias felt ill on ours too…the sea wasn’t even rough this time! He had to lie down at the end! Our captain was really concerned everyone had had a good time too, he kept asking whether we’d seen enough and whether we were happy lol. I would have happily stayed out there all day but I am sure the whales had had enough of us buzzing around :)

      • skinnywench 17 March 2012 at 8:45 am #

        At least we had a spectacular beach to recover on!!!

  2. maryduranteyoutt 17 March 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    Great pictures, thanks for sharing your travels

  3. longhornsandcamels 14 April 2012 at 9:21 am #

    Cool! Unfortunately we didn’t squeeze this in. You guys are brave for taking the bus! (I read in another post) – those drivers seemed to be the craziest of all!

    • toaustraliathelongway 14 April 2012 at 9:41 am #

      It was amazing but to be fair, even if we hadn’t done that, Sri Lanka would still be one of our favourite places so far…even with the bus drivers! We spoke to some locals and they said they all take drugs to keep them awake to make sure they fit as many journeys in as possible during the day/night. Absolutely terrifying whether you’re on the bus or heading towards one on a bike but an experience!!

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