We got to Sri Lanka just in time for the New Year. Landing at 12:30 AM on New Years Eve meant that we had to stay the night in Colombo and we tried to make our lives easier by using Hotels.com to arrange lodging and a shuttle to the hotel from the airport. We were expecting the good ‘ol dude with our names waiting for us at baggage claim. We wanted to arrive in style like stars at Colombo Airport but the Sri Lank(brah) wasn’t there! After catching a cab to the hotel we found out that Hotels.com screwed up and didn’t let them know we needed a shuttle even though I had confirmed a shuttle with them. Lesson? Screw Hotels.com.
Mix of random rolls and buns filled with curries and meats. You only pay for what you eat.
The next day was New Years Eve. We caught a mini-bus to Midigama from Colombo which took around 6 hours. The drive cost about $100 USD, but on the way back up only $70. On the way down we stopped at a local eatery where they spoke no english and just asked them to bring us what they thought we’d like, using charades. The mix of pastries was good and they just charged us for what we ate. Sri Lanka is cheap and if you like curries you get cheap curry! They also let me plug in my camera charger or at least we thought they did. When I asked the Sri Lank(brah) if I could, using charades, he gave me a head waggle. The most confusing thing a first time visitor to Sri Lanka will run into is the way they answer questions. It is this weird head waggle which makes them look like bobble heads. You’re not sure if the are saying yes or no because its a head gesture mixing the two. We took it as a “kind of” or “maybe” and I’m pretty sure it means “ok”. It takes some getting used to and frustrated us at times but overall it made us giggle. Read this blog about it that we found. Also this little vid kinda explains it too.
This is an example of the waggle:
After our feed we were back on the road and every few kilometers we’d (or at least I) see a fireworks stand and I couldn’t help myself. We stopped at one and I went ballistic buying as much as I could! I bought a bunch of rockets and home-made bombs! Midnight would be explosive.
On our way down we got to see a good portion of the country. The devastation of the tsunami is not fully apparent until you see a boat washed far inland or look closely at the homes left near the ocean. The foliage has grown back and overtaken a lot of the destruction. Nearly 40,000 people were killed in Sri Lanka alone. The coastal zone is pretty flat allowing the tsunami to track inland pretty far. Despite the destruction and ongoing civil war the people still seemed to have a pretty happy go lucky demeanor and were really nice. The war with the Tamil Tigers in the press seems to be all but won and we witnessed no hostility, but we did see many many road blocks with sand bags surrounding big guns just in case.
When we finally got to Midigama we found that the place where we wanted to stay was almost fully booked. They only had one room left and it was really close to the road. We decided to look around a bit but Rams place remained the best choice so we went back. Rams is situated right in front of the best break in the area and came highly recommended by our friends Rainbow and Lot from Holland. We met them in the Philippines and when we were traveling so were they. After spending months in Sri Lanka they said we had to go check it out. They liked the place so much that they were actually on their way back to Rams place a month later! The food is great, the surf is perfect for the beginner to intermediate surfer, its cheap, Ram and his staff are great hosts, and its fun.
Curry Rice Plate for breakfast, lunch and dinner! The stuff was the bomb!
If you go to Rams, try to get a room as close the ocean as possible because the noise from the road is drowned out by the lapping of the ocean on the shore and the breaking waves out on the reef. But the rooms near the road had the ocean filtered out by the crazy busses and cars honking their horns and using their close to non existant brakes. Sleep was not peaceful unless you had earplugs in and with the heat, if you did have your earplugs in, your ears sweat and you got that nasty wet earplug feeling.
After unpacking and jumping in for a quick surf it was time to figure out what to do for the New Years. We decided to go to a beach called Marisa down the coast a bit where there are a bunch of hotels and restaurants on the sand. Our taxi drivers were locals from across the street of Rams and were hilarious. When they found out that I had fireworks they promptly grabbed a few and started throwing them at cars and buses on our way to Marisa. They were lighting them in their mouth like they were ciggarettes!
When we got to the beach we just had to decide what party to go to. We crashed a Russian party and after a giant Lion beer we were asked to leave. I guess we didn’t look Russian. The Russians congregate to this beach and the locals seemed to speak more Russian than English. Anyways we just hopped to the next party and had a great time. Our drivers were getting a bit tipsy so we bid them farewell and enjoyed the rest of the night party hopping without them.
Lion Beer best served ice cold and with a roar of attitude. That white bracelet I have on was from a Buddhist monk that came by Rams during a parade. It stayed on for two months and it was just a piece of string!
Our tuk-tuk drivers
We found a sober taxi to catch home because the roads here are deathly. Two days before we got to Rams place a bus crashed into their wall. Accidents were an hourly occurrence and when you traveled on them it was easily to understand why. Of all the places we traveled I think the bus drivers here were the worse. They pack the buses to the brim, the roads are only two lanes, and they just pass and if you are the smaller car you are expected to pull over or be mowed over.
Our sober driver, we think.
The next few days we spent surfing fun Midigama rights. It’s the only wave we surfed while in Sri Lanka. The reason was that this was pretty much the only wave we found worth surfing. The other waves in the area we found were slopey and slow. At least this wave had a bit of consequence, was hollow, fast and fun! Louise got tossed on one wave and landed on the reef butt first. She now has a nice scar on her ass crack. On our first surf some of the visitors thought we were crazy for not wearing booties, but you don’t really need them.
Getting some shade, Sri Lanka is hot! So is the water which is barely a relief.
The wave has a fun barrel section on the beginning and the end. Really easy to make it out of them.
The little local kid was surfing with a board missing a fin, I hooked him up and he was very thankful. They don’t get much in the way of surfing materials down there. Bring and share. He was surfing the best out of any of the locals and was only 14 or so.
The beach at Rams.
We got kind of antsy while in Sri Lanka. With only a month left in our travels we had planned to spend 3 of the 4 weeks here in Sri Lanka. But the surf was just mediocre and our sleeping arrangment was lackluster and the nice rooms weren’t emptying out for another week. We found some internet in someones living room down the street and you paid them what you felt was fair, no set price. There we spent our time trying to arrange how to get back to Bali. We found really cheap tickets from Colombo to Kuala Lumpur then KL to Bali on Air Asia. For $150 USD each we pulled the trigger and were leaving in two days. We had spent 4 days in Sri Lanka and were headed to one of our favorite places in 2 more.
With just two days left in Sri Lanka we decided to make the most of it. We surfed our brains out in order to get ready for Bali and to do some shopping to practice our bargaining. The locals were really inviting and we got to visit many locals houses. They would invite us in, offer us food and drinks, show us pictures, and ultimatley take pictures of and with us.
Taking pictures of Louise. Everyone had camera cell phones.
Hanging out on Rams little beach was nice and some of the guests did just that. Many of the visitors at Rams were from the UK and were on tanning missions. Check out this lady, she was lobster red but didn’t give up. I think they were looking for the first sign of blistering and then they would stop. A perfect tan.
We spent some days just reading our books on the beach. I was rocking out to Speaker of the Dead, I’m a small time Sci-Fi geek. Louise also honed in on her coconut frawn hat making skills.
Don’t know what these fruits or nuts were but they had all kind. I think they were called the swollen left nut.
On our last night in Sri Lanka we decided to try out Marisa one last time but thats not what happened. While walking around the locals area of town a man approached us and asked us if we spoke English. When we responded with a yes he became ecstatic. He bought us some bread that we were trying to buy and then insisted that we go to his house and have dinner with his family. We were a bit timid because we didn’t really trust him. When traveling you have to have your guard up and trust is something earned. This has kept us out of a lot of trouble but at the same time makes you miss out on opportunities. Its a fine line to walk but on this occasion we decided to take the risk and it was well worth it. We jumped into a tuk-tuk with him and we stopped at a vegetable stand where he bought some veggies and then we stopped again at a fish stand on the beach where he had us pick a fish. Then we went to his house up a dark dirt road. I had my guard up just in case but the more we learned about him and his family the easier it was for us to relax. His kids gutted the fish and his wife cooked it in curry while he took a shower. His drunk buddy enteretained us with his attempt at english and his infatuation with Bob Marley. Bob is a huge influence here, ganja is easily available and cheap although its shitty weed. Reggae music blares from stereos and all the young kids sing Bob songs for you.
His drunk buddy:
Dinner was served but they refused to eat with us. They just sat there and watched us eat. With no utensils we ate as much as we could. When our plates were emptied our host placed more food on them. Finally we were allowed to stop and I was just waiting for the drugs inserted into our food to drop us but thank god they didn’t. Our hosts were honest to goodness great people and we really did have a good time.
Our host in the market showing us a pic of him and a giant sail fish he caught. He just randomly carries this pic around.
We left Rams at midnite and arrived at the airport at dawn. There was a lounge open that accepted our Priority Pass card so we waited for our plane in style. While walking to our gate we snapped these two photos of ads that looked just like my sister. If she came to Sri Lanka or to India she’d be a movie star, or at least a billboard commercial model in Colombo airport.
My sis getting her hair done, now compare to the shots above. She just got married!
Lou passed out early morning in the lounge at Colombo Int’l.
Sri Lanka was a cool country but it didn’t rate up there with our favorites. I think our biggest gripe was the fact that the main highway followed the coastline therefore degrading the laid back beach lifestyle it could have. We kind of felt bad leaving Sri Lanka without exploring more, but we did score Midigamas Right really good, met a bunch of locals, had many laughs, and were now on our way to Bali! If you are an intermediate to beginner surfer this place is perfect for helping you step up to the next level because there are very easy waves and then some that a bit more difficult but not very life threatening plus we didn’t hear of or see any sharks. We will go back……..when they make a highway inland away from the beach, or we’ll go to a different part of the country.
Look closely, they sell SMAK right on the street here.
Check this kids head bobble action!