Asia, Surfing

Sri Lanka

From Africa to Sri Lanka…We arrived late so got picked up from the airport and dozed for the next 3hrs while driving to our homestay in Midigama. If you fly in at a normal hour jump on the train for $2 🙂  We stayed with an incredibly nice family in their house right opposite the infamous (amongst Sri Lankan surfing tourists) Lazy Left Point break.

Andddd quickly fell into the rhythm of Island living. Wake up early, surf, come home, big Sri Lankan breakfast, relax/hide from the heat of the sun, eat roti and drink coconuts, lunch time swim, afternoon surf, big Sri Lankan dinner, snooze and repeat.

Midigama

It is incredibly hot there, I thought growing up with the humidity on the Sunshine Coast would have better prepared me for the humidity in Sri Lanka butttttt no. You get a sweat up just sitting in the shade! So that explains our lack of footage/photos- it’s too hot to do much! The water temp is just over 30 degrees too so if you are surfing in the middle of the day it feels like you’re sweating on your board! We loved it when the rain came (not as often as we would’ve liked!) and went straight down the beach to play 🙂

So many surf spots around, but it’s also very very crowded with learners, if you are past learner stage you will have a great time 😛 And if you are learning it’s a top spot to learn, pleaseeee learn surf etiquette before you give it a crack though! Hire a scooter or load up a tuk tuk with your boards and off you go. You really can’t go wrong, if you see a wave it’s pretty much all good to surf it. There are a few spots that the main crowd hasn’t found and I wont reveal them on here to try and keep it that way 😛 You will find them if you’re there long enough 🙂

We would alternate scooter hire days, the buses on the roads are SO FREAKIN scary, they go flying along and around the corners and overtake each other blocking both sides of the road, yikes! Make sure you wear a helmet and just hug the side of the road if you get a scooter. Or jump on the back of a more experienced driver and close your eyes 😛 We scootered down to Madiha (awesome café there called Coffee Point if you are around!) and as far up as Hikkaduwa.

If you’re turtle mad like I am, a cool spot to spend a day is at is Delawela beach, on low tide the reef is exposed and a HUGE lagoon is created (shoulder depth on me in the deepest point) then when the tide changes the biggest sea turtles I’ve ever seen swim in and around and it’s magic. Hire a mask for $2 from a restaurant on the beach and away you go. There is also a really cool rope swing just around the corner if you go for a wee wander away from all the tourists along the beach 🙂

After 2 weeks in Midigama we decided to head to Colombo to extend our visas. You can only get 30days (pay online for your arrival) and have to head to the immigration office to extend which is a lengthy silly process but all good. Hot tip is to get there as soon as it opens at 8.30am and you should be out of there after 2 hours. We spent the night in Colombo which you definitely don’t need to do, but we weren’t that keen on doing the 7hr train ride inland that day, especially when we have unlimited time on our hands 😛 We left our boards with the family we stayed with as well as most of our luggage, soo nice travelling with a small backpack!

Sri Pada/Adams Peak

Getting there-

Jumped on the morning train and arrived to Hatton station at about 2pm. Hopped into a tuk tuk with a local who spoke really good English and he gave us a bit of a tour on the way out to Sri Pada-Adams Peak in Dalhousie. It’s 2,243m high and somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 steps up (basically vertical!). You can jump on the local bus for about 70cents each, our tuk tuk was $15 but you can get it for $10-$12, we thought it was worth it. SO many tea plantations! Sri Pada is a sacred mountain. There is a footprint up the top which depending on what religion you belong to is the footprint of the leader.

It is a Buddhist pilgrimage so you definitely want to avoid climbing on Poya days (full moons) and weekends/New Year. Best time to climb is between Jan-May, all the tea shops are open and lights guiding you up are on. You leave your hotel at about 2am to reach the top for the sunrise. Yep, can’t believe I was awake at 2am to climb a mountain either. We were at the top by 5.15am with 3 tea stops on the way up. It’s not a walk in the park but it’s manageable. We saw a few older couples doing it to so don’t be put off!

Sunrise was a little after 6.30am but we got a top spot on the fence line with a great view. Any later than that and we would’ve been a few humans back. The climb down was soooo hard on the knees and jelly legs made things a little wobbly too. But the worst is the recovery, 5 days of no walking for us!!! We stayed 2 nights in Dalhousie, which if you have the time I would recommend. Also make sure you take ear plugs! If you want to catch some sleep before the climb and when you get back you’ll need them. Also, it’s bloody cold up the top while waiting for the sun. Tie a warm jumper around your waist when you leave your hotel.

Ella

From here we got back on the train and went to Ella. We stayed in the coooooolest treehouse in the jungle. I wanted to spend the whole day sitting on the balcony watching the monkeys and other wildlife.. and that’s exactly what we did! Super good excuse too since we couldn’t walk after Adams Peak anyway 😛 Ella is a gorgeous town. It’s really nice being in the mountains and escaping the heat. Take a jumper if you head there. Also make sure your accommodation has nice big fluffy blankets on the bed.

There are plenty of things to see around here. We couldn’t do much physical activity but did get back on the train. It really is the most picturesque scenery! We went to Liptons Seat, which overlooks Sir Liptons tea plantations. That was a really cool view. If you don’t have dead legs you can walk the 7km or so through the plantations which would be a really beautiful hike. Lots of hills though!) So much back breaking work goes into your cup of tea. Hold that cup nice and tenderly and appreciate every sip! Only women pick the leaves and they have to pick 16kgs a day for about $6. Anything less than 16kgs and it’s half pay. Rough.

Yala National Park

Getting There-

From here we got the bus to Tissamaharama, which is the town next to Yala National Park. We got 2 buses which were super easy to catch. The driver told us exactly where to go/which bus to jump on. The 3hr journey cost about $2 each haha! Transport is so cheap here. It’s likely that you’ll be the only foreigner on the buses and get stared and smiled at a lot by everyone but it’s all part of the fun.

Yala national park apparently has the highest density of leopard so that’s why we ended up there. We did see a mum with her 2 babies but they were very hidden and it wasn’t what I pictured but ah well! Saw plenty of other animals and elephants, although they are TINY compared with the African ones. Oh how I miss Africa! After 2 nights we jumped back on the bus and went back to Midigama. Hot tip, take ear plugs for the buses, they pump outrageous music from the speakers..It’s fun for the first 5mins then you just want to rip your ears off.

Back to Midigama

Such a good feeling getting back to the beach! Two more nights at the homestay then we moved a little further down the road. The next place was at Plantations surf break area and  the hotel ‘The Surflanka’.  It was EPIC so we stayed for the next month. We also spent 2 nights in Madiha and 2 in Hikkaduwa. Hikkaduwa is like the more touristy version of Midigama. Loads of shops etc and loads more people but still good to visit. It’s also where you would go to party if that’s your thang!

It doesn’t take long to fall back into the rhythm of surfing, chilling, surfing. We also had 2 friends who we met in France at the surf lodge who also happened to book Sri Lankan holidays too! Was so good to hang out with you both ! The whole island is packed with French and German holiday makers escaping their winter but hey I’d be doing the same!

Celebrated my 25th Birthday while over there and Dan had a day of surprises planned. Lucky me! Starting off with a dive at Unawatuna to a shipwreck 30m down-super cool! Then lunch on the beach followed by a massage in a treehouse in the jungle, bliss! Then out to dinner at a fancy hotel nearby 🙂

Can you believe we were lucky enough to see 5 turtle hatchings! It’s crazy the amount of turtles around. There is a house on the beach just down from Plantations surf break and every other day they release baby turtles. If you are in the area head down for sunset/around 6pm and I’m sure you’ll see them eventually! A local guy digs up the eggs and re-buries them. It’s the best chance for survival from other animals and locals eating the eggs! So they are re-buried in the backyard of the house which is sand. Once they hatch they put them into a bucket and place them at the top of the beach! Super super amazing to witness! Especially when you are just on your way in from your evening surf 🙂

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