Breakfast at a reasonable time, 0700 hrs this morning, then into the waiting car for 0730 hrs, Joe behind the wheel and away we went, straight into the bedlam of the morning Colombo traffic, though it never seems to quieten down. Bleep, Bleep Bleep from everyone and I have noticed Joe, our Driver, bleeping at times for no reason, just habit I presume!
Our “course” to Galle was along the coast road stopping at various places along the way with an ETA around 1400 hrs.
Our first stop, a picture moment, was the Maliban Biscuit Factory, this was the company my Father did a lot of work with, including much of the planning for this current, new in 1961, factory but unfortunately he didn’t live to see the completed factory. Unfortunately due to heavy traffic and not being able to park, I could only get a poor shot of the front of the office block, the factory behind it was not seen.
Our next stop was the Turtle Hatchery where we got to learn about turtles and hold them.
This place not only hatches the eggs and keeps
the babies until they are 5 years old before releasing them into the sea, they also take in
turtles that have been caught up in Fisherman’s nets Etc. We saw several that had lost their flippers, naturally they would have died back in the sea, but here, they can live their life out.
They also had turtles born disfigured and with no eyes, again
they wouldn’t survive in the ocean. We also
looked at a rare “Albino” turtle.
After this quite remarkable place and a quick
visit to the obligatory gift shop, we were off in the car again.
Our next port of call was the inland lagoon, Lake Ratgama, with 64 Islands in it. We got into our private open topped boat and set off through the Mangroves and into the
spectacular tidal lagoon. The boat driver first took us through a tunnel cut in the Mangroves, it looked like a big black hole until our eyes adjusted and it gave us a very close-up look at
their root systems which involves turning salty sea water into pure water, very clever!
We passed the traps used for catching prawns, they shine a bright light at night, the prawns swim into the traps, can’t get out and bingo, someone’s lunch next day. We also passed a number of fish farms, the driver wanted to stop but we said no.
Next came the temple but we told him we were templed out so apart from
a photograph, we could move on.
Next he took us to another island and here insisted we get out, and I have to say we were glad as this old boy demonstrated how they took the branch from the Cinnamon tree,
shaved off the outside green bark, that went as compost, then gently skinned the remaining wood from the branch which became the
He then wrapped these thin slivers of wood into a length and dried them, not in the sunlight, but in the pitch of his hut roof for 5 days after which it is brown and ready for grating and use; fascinating. His next demonstration was how he weaves the coconut leaves into matting and he explained that when two layers thick, it will keep the house dry. Last but not least, he took the hair from
the dried coconut, weaved it, doubled it and hey presto, rope. We all tried to pull it apart but no, it was too strong.
Back into the boat passing several birds and fishermen we made our way back but didn’t stop, we went onto the mouth
of this lagoon, I am sure he wanted us to know and see this was a salt water lake! This trip lasted a hour and half and we really enjoyed it and it was good to get back onto the water. As we approached our jetty, who was there to meet us, why Joe of
course! Joe looks after us like a mother hen, I am sure he is thinking of the big tip he hopes to get at the end!!!
On the move again, lunch is fast approaching and Joe said he will take us to a good fish restaurant on the beach, but first we have to drive through areas where the major Tsumani hit, Boxing Day 2004.
The devastation caused, as we saw on the
news at the time, is highlighted by seeing it as it is un inhabitable
The figure officially quoted was 43,000 dead but our “local” driver thinks the true number is about double. There is also a mass grave
with 5,000 un
identifiable bodies in, and a memorial that has been built on the
spot. Additionally the Japanese have also built a Statue to commemorate this tragedy, but the Japanese did it a a good omen to stop any re occurrence of any future Tsunamis.
This was a sad part of our journey but it did bring home the devastation people suffered and it also brings home how lucky we are to be living in Europe.
Lunch next and after leaving the main area of the Tsunami we arrived at this Fish Restaurant recommended by Joe. Well the
entrance certainly didn’t give a good impression but once we ad walked through, we were happy. The fish on display in the tanks and in the chill cabinets looked very good and we were happy! We got table, after a swop, next to the beach ant then ordered. A prawn and Avocado starter for Christine, rock
Oysters for me then a mixed Seafood platter to share, with Chips!!! All very nice and we were full. The most spectacular thing here was the size of the jumbo Prawns, they were the size of a Lobster,
quite remarkable but the one e hd was a little tasteless. In this case, big was not better!!!
Lunch over and off to Galle. Galle historically was very important and on the peninsula the Portuguese built the original fort in 1588. But the Dutch modified it extensively from 1649 onwards. The walls
are extremely thick, so thick that they were the only man built building not Damaged by the Tsunami. There is not that much to see in the old fort, people live there, there is a Hotel and the usual
tourist shops. Apart from a walk along the ramparts, and looking at the Cricket pitch where test matches are played there is not a lot to see so Joe drove us through quickly, pointing some things out as we went.
Next it was time for the beach, a swim, one hour of Sunbathing and a cuppa. Joe dropped us at a beach where we enjoyed swimming in the
Indian Ocean, but
by now the sun was not at its brightest so after swimming, we dressed and enjoyed “Tea for Two”
Joe waited in the car, enjoying a siesta, until we were ready. This time Joe Took us on the fairly new “Highway” a
Chineese constructed duel carriageway built to European Motorway standards though the maximum speed limit was 100 kph (60 mph) due to so many accidents! The 116 Km took us one hour ten minutes, the 26 Km’s took us nearly an hour, again mad driving, hooting and in the dark, oh well, rest day tomorrow!