Southern Sri Lanka: Colombo, Mirissa and Tissa
Ahh Sri Lanka! We’ve never traveled in India so this feels like a baby step in that direction. Colombo is intense even though we’re only really here for a day and a night - just enough to get money, phones and tickets sorted out. So, just a word to the wise: don’t get a crappy phone plan at the airport just because the line is shorter! 2/3g service is horrible here, so had to replace that in Colombo.
And the ticket: we bought train tickets to Mirissa, but jumped on the wrong train! Egads, the local train south of Colombo in 3rd class, with the masses, was NOT what we wanted! After about 45 minutes squished (with all of our luggage) on this train we got off and were luckily able to transfer back to our proper train. 2nd class unreserved was still packed but at least we had a place to stand.
We made it to Mirissa and had dinner by candlelight on the beach. Yumm!
We stayed in an Airbnb close to the beach - about a 7 minute walk. The area is totally low key - you can walk thru any hotel to the beach no problem. And you take your choice of lounge chairs and really only have to worry about 1) will high tide wash under you, or 2) when will they try to move you to roll out the dinner tables!
Fruit plates aplenty for lunch were de riguer, with coconuts to quench the thirst. Oh and breakfasts were classic Sri Lankan - eggs, hoppers, fruit, passion fruit juice, pancakes with coconut sambal. We're hooked!
The ocean is beguiling and warm and not rough at all - easy to body surf and stay in for hours. We barely could drag Gage out after dark!
And evenings were beautiful. Sunset followed by moon rise, wandering down the beach in search of the best happy hour option (usually they were 3-10!), and the delish dinners.
We had a couple of memorable meals. First was in the highlands about 20 minutes outside of Mirissa - Cosmic Power Woody Cottage. We arrived to his home/restaurant with only one other group there. Menu was simple, really was just what they told us - a variety of vegetables, rice and fruits. It did take forever (maybe an hour or more) but the food that came out buffet style/all you can eat was totally scrumptious! Curries and naan and eggplant and green beans and rice...you get the picture...cooked to perfection by his wife. We were big fans...cost us about $15.
Second was Dewini Roti Shop in Mirissa. Such a delightful story...family starts little shop in town, becomes successful, loses lease, opens again in their home with the help of a German couple and is successful once again. The food was simple but so tasty and impossibly inexpensive. The avocado Roti was a fav, followed by the spicy chopped Roti.
We did a day trip to Galle. It was an amazing city right on the coast, with tons of history. We walked through the old Dutch/British forts, through the Buddhist temple, along the exterior ramparts, finishing up with a drink in the Amangalla Hotel for sublime gin & tonic.
Though Galle was hot and quite touristy it was for sure worth the ride. We did the local bus there and back, with crazy entertainment. They are extremely aggressive drivers here so it was nice to have the distraction.
Unfortunately our week of chill time had to end. While I was not the one who advocated for this it was the right thing to do for everyone to fully reenergize before the next few weeks.
This is also where we said goodbye to Celia for two weeks. She is off to perform some volunteer work back in Colombo so she took the train solo back to meet with her group.
We pressed on eastward to Tissa. We had planned a safari in Yala for that afternoon. The safari was interesting, in a poptop Jeep. We raced around the park in search of elephants 👍, crocs 👍, birds 👍, but the real draw was to see the leopard 👎, alas. We were close, saw the tracks, it no live animal. But there was a python strangling a pygmy deer!
In 2004 Sri Lanka had a massive tsunami hit the island - 35k dead and thousands hurt. This is a platform where the tourists in Yala had been before being swept away...
The highlight was actually the next day. We wandered to a ton of sights in and around the small city.
Yatala Wehera (note butter lamp catastrophe!):
Some beautiful trees and birds, and a super-fast monitor lizard that I got just a bit too close to!
We really liked Tissa a bunch and would have loved to spend more time here. However we had bought our train tickets for the Ella to Kandy ride for two days hence (with lots of travel to get there), so we had to get moving.