Tag Archives: hikkaduwa

It’s a long road to Hikkaduwa…

18 Mar

We had a lie in the next morning and woke up to see Mathias and Frederik playing cricket with Ajit’s children and their friends. They were absolutely soaked in sweat but looked like they were having a great time. After paying our bill and eating our breakfast (leaving us with 1,000 rupees…£5), we joined them and played a quick game. They played it with a tennis ball and if you knock it out of the garden it’s not a six, you’re automatically out which seemed a bit unfair! I started off fielding and then all too soon it was my turn to bat. I was praying I wouldn’t knock myself unconscious but I managed to hit the ball, even if Frederik caught me out…a good excuse to get out of the sun :) Craig did much better but the kids were amazingly fast and thought nothing of running over broken bricks to try and catch the ball. Mathias and Frederik were great, albeit slightly bewildered by the rules (“why do two people have to run? why can’t we stand here and someone else runs for us?”). No one seemed in any great hurry to leave, but all too soon our bags had to be packed and it was time to go. We were genuinely sad to say goodbye to Mathias and Frederik as we’d had a really nice couple of days with them, but they were off for to Nepal for new adventures and we really needed to see more than one village!

We strapped on our big bags, medium bags and little bags and decided to give walking to Hikkaduwa a go. The bus was only 19 rupees each but we needed to save a bit of cash and we thought it would be nice to give the death-bus a miss for a change. It was seven kilometres but that’s never put us off before so off we went. Mathias bet that we would have over 1,000 offers of tuktuks along the way, but in the end we stopped counting at 15. So it was probably around 1,000 by the time we collapsed into our guesthouse.

The walk was pretty nice; we got to see a lot of things that would have just been a blur on the bus

We got passed by little bakery tuktuks – tuktuks that are filled with cakes and bread and play a little tune. My favourite one plays Santa Claus is Coming to Town. We were accompanied by a dog for quite a while – we stroked it when we stopped for a drink. Another guy gave it a pancake, but it obviously knew people who loved dogs as it didn’t give the guy a second glance before it came with us, wagging it’s tail the whole way until we got to town and it turned back. We also got stopped by lots of people just for a chat – “where?” is “where are you going?” and “crazy” is “why are you walking from Akurala to Hikkaduwa?”. We even got offered a lift for free but we explained we were long of leg and big of belly so it was good for us to walk carrying 15kg of stuff each.

We arrived at Hikkaduwa just in time for the sunset

but found that our card was still blocked. We found a little restaurant which had wifi and managed to change a couple of dollars into rupees so we could have a beer and get something to eat. I phoned the bank and eventually got them to unblock the card after a very stressful 15 minutes of security-grilling. I have no money, my priority is not to remember my stupid memorable place I thought of three years ago, it’s to get you to understand I HAVE NO MONEY!! But both cards are now working again now so all good.

We were pretty hungry after our walk (which ended up being nearly 13km due to the cheaper guesthouses being at the other end of Hikkaduwa) so went for a cheap rotty, or filled chappati/pancake thing. When we got there, it also said kottu on the menu so we decieded to try that. The old man making it was amazing as he could turn little lumps of dough into pancakes in seconds. He fried up vegetables, bacon and chicken and then got two huge chopping knives and rhythmically chop-diddy-chop-didy-chopped at full volume until everything was smushed up into tiny pieces. Soy sauce, chillies, a fresh egg and then it was done

It tasted a million times better than it looks!

We went for a quick drink by the beach and then to bed, absolutely knackered. We spent this morning on a pilgrimage to the cashpoint so we could use the now-unblocked cards and plan to spend the day at the beach and going for lunch with one of the guys we met on our walk yesterday. To celebrate the use of our limbs (quite an occasion when you’ve spent the last couple of days lying on the beach!) we might break out the matching teeshirts. Oh yes. You have been warned.

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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 :)