Wow, what a difference a couple of days make. After a couple of food filled days in bustling modern and wealthy Singapore we caught a late night flight to Colombo.
After all the consternation that we’d been through with visas, it was only fitting that Nicks hadn’t been put into the system, so a visit to the Chief immigration officer was needed at the airport. Not to worry, he gave me a rapid clearance – probably due to the 6 members of a pushy family who were climbing onto his desk at the time. Within an hour we had got new SIM cards – 5 Gb for 15 bucks …take that Telstra …changed cash and were on our way with all our gear to Negombo…and all of this at 1am!
Time differences meant that we were heads on pillows at 8am body o’clock but a few hours was gratefully slept, and then we were off to Galle.
We drove into Galle during a torrential downpour, which persisted throughout the day and evening…it felt heavy even for the tropics, and as it turned out there was unusual local flooding events.
Galle new town has the expected unfettered concrete developments which combined with the hubub of busy roads created a slightly daunting initial impression – especially for the boys. It was obvious that waterfronts here are functional…the road is right on the edge, so it is close to the businesses , boats and fishing, not leaving any of the usual space for hanging out and enjoying the beach.
Our guesthouse in Unawatuna was not quite as described, but our hosts were very welcoming and the boys soon saw the advantage in being upstairs and separated from their parents!
When we awoke in the morning to a clear and blue sky we walked across the road to Unawatuna beach , which has been through a transformation of sorts…illegal breakwaters had taken away the sand, but it has just been remade with huge volumes of sand from near Colombo…so now it has 2 distinct colours, white near the land and orange at the water.
A swim in the delightfully warm ocean made all of our doubts fade off into the distance, it’s not crowded this time of year but we’ve been told that come December it will be pink Russians as far as the eye can see!
The continuation of our day was equal parts chaos, calm , trepidation and excitement. We went house hunting. At first we were picked up by a lovely doctor from nicks work and taken to see a few places that he had sourced for us. We met some lovely neighbours and learnt a lot about local culture along the way. We then met an agent at a local restaurant, shared a terrific vegetarian curry lunch and all piled into a tuk tuk (5 of us in a back seat made for 2). Sunil was very charming and took us to some interesting and different places whilst chatting constantly about Galle and his many business interests. It was actually loads of fun, and although we didn’t find anything suitable , the experience was definitely worth the time!
After all that tuk tuk touring we went to Galle fort for the late afternoon. This world heritage Portuguese then Dutch then English colonial bastion is just beautiful, cobbled streets, the odd trendy bar and shop, all surrounded by azure water and hulking grass covered walls which you can walk along. The boys were excited to see cricket played everywhere including on the famous GIS ground next to the fort
we finished the afternoon with an icy pole on the high ramparts …looking over the ocean, fort and Galle itself
Our final stop for the day was at a villa (villa is code for made for foreigners and very expensive) which Nick had randomly discovered through some extensive googling back in Oz.
Turns out it was literally just completed, final touches were still being made, and we had got a look in early …and it seemed just in time, the owner had been taking calls from a well known billionaire ( guess who?) and other influential hotel owners. The house was perfect…not cheap…but perfect. Nick was able to provide a bit of medical advice which the owner was grateful for, and thought that it was fate that our paths had crossed. In any case we agreed to rent the house. Maybe it was our first taste of karma, who knows!
In our short time here so far we have learnt so much about the country the town and the people, but mostly we have discovered that generosity of spirit is a social and cultural norm here…we have tried and will keep trying to match it.