2nd Mar 2017 - 4th Mar 2017 - Sri Lanka
The South Coast
Before the Brits arrived in Sri Lanka, the island was colonised by both the Dutch and the Portuguese. The first arrivals, the Portuguese in 1505, were actually heading to the Maldives when they were blown of course and ended up in Galle. After they had colonised large parts of the island, they were still fighting with the remainder and so they built a large fort, which was later extended by the Dutch after their arrival in 1640. The fort still stands today and withstood the 2004 tsunami, which badly hit Sri Lanka’s south coast. The new town of Galle was massively damaged but the solid walls of the Fort protected a large part of the old town and the good drainage installed by the Dutch meant that floodwaters drained quickly and efficiently into the sewers.
The weather forecast for my time on the south coast was Sri Lanka showed a lot of rain, so when I woke up on my first morning in Mirissa to glorious sunshine, I decided that I should get on the beach as quick as possible. So I spent the entire morning on the beach, slowly toasting, and dipping in the sea. I had a break for a couple of hours over the middle of the day but the sun showed no sign of disappearing, so I then spent a few more hours in the afternoon on the beach. By the time I returned to my guesthouse at 4 for a shower, I was a particularly lovely shade of red in some very unusual places. I went back to the beach in time for a lovely sunset and then back to one of the beachfront restaurants to hand choose a butterfish for dinner.
Around 10 the next day, I set off on a bus for Galle, arriving at my guesthouse about 11.30. I had opted to stay inside the Fort Walls, and first order was to walk around them. At the northern end of the walls, you look right over onto the Galle International Cricket Ground, but no match was taking place. Further round are a number of Dutch churches, where I jumped off the walls to find some lunch. Back on the walls, I passed on old hospital, a beach, a mosque and the lighthouse. After I’d done a complete loop, I sat and watched a group of school girls have a dance class, dancing along to Abba amongst other things! I wandered up and down the lanes, a unique look back into a world 400 years ago. Sat and watched the sunset again, before finding a little restaurant for dinner.
The next morning, I had decided to catch the train up to Colombo. I was up at 8 and wandering round inside the fort looking for breakfast, but most places were not yet open. Eventually, I found a cute little place to get some eggs and toast. At the train station, I bought my ticket for Colombo and this time managed to get a seat at the first attempt. The train went up the coast, past beautiful beaches and small inlet bays with palm trees on both sides. This section of track is also the site of the world’s worst ever train disaster, when a packed commuter train was washed away by the tsunami with the loss of over 1200 lives. Two and a half hours later, we arrived in Colombo where I left my bag in the cloakroom and had a few hours to explore. I spent most of the time around the Fort area of Colombo, near the coast before catching a bus to the airport and heading home.