Unawatuna: In search of some peace and paradise
Trip Start Nov 16, 2008
32Trip End Feb 07, 2009
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After a 4 hour hair raising drive down the west coast (these guys drive like the back of the car is on fire), we arrive in Unawatuna. Chosen as our destination for the name (Mish) and a stunning palm fringed beach lapped by beautiful turquoise waters. Arrived in one piece through a torrential downpour, however, we soon relaxed with greetings from the hotel with cold towels and a refreshing juice with sun and sea just around the corner.
So, we spend our first full day here pretty much horizontal on the beach apart from the odd swim to cool off, although cooling off in the sea with a water temperature of 30 degrees was pretty difficult! Only part ruining our peace was the beach touts selling an array of clothing, wooden carvings and fresh fruit
On the first evening the heavens opened and it was a scene to be set for most the week.... Rain....rain.....a little more rain...... And then a deluge of downpours that would have swept Gloucestershire away in a hour!!
We decided to do some sightseeing to pass the time as there must have been more to Sri Lanka than cloudy days and rain soaked nights!!!
After numerous choices of going to Kandy in the hill country to watch the drummers and dancers, via an elephant orphanage, and staying in Unawatuna and doing small excursions to a spice garden, turtle hatchery, tea plantation and watching a video at our chauffeurs house (that's right baby..... A chauffeur) to see the tsunami and how it affected our resort we opted for staying put and go for the day trips.
On the drive down to Unawatuna we passed several monuments remembering those that were lost and houses in states of disrepair following the Tsunami and one couldn't help thinking about how devastating it must have been
Later on we visited an island on a lake and saw how cinnamon was made and all the various plants that make things like, nutmeg, pepper, curry leaves, ginger, lemongrass and the stuff that makes tiger balm. What was typical was the fact that the stuff we get back home over half of it isn't the real thing or they have had additives put in them. The tea plantation was cool to see and watch the process of plants turned into several varieties of tea one being called white tea which is apparently ordered by the queen and sent direct to Buckingham palace. And what did it taste like??? Yuck!! Well that is what Mike thinks. The reason why this tea is so expensive and special is the fact that that it comes from the new buds of the tea plants and they are full of anti-oxidants. In china, they follow a rigorous process of only allowing virgins to collect the leaves using gloves and gold clippers (no career here for Mish then!!). In Sri Lanka, they are a bit more relaxed with the rules and are happy to employ unmarried women using gold plated clippers
Next we went to the turtle hatchery to see various turtles of different ages being looked after pending release to the sea. Allegedly Sri Lankans dig up the nests to use the eggs for food and then the hatchery buys some of these eggs from them. Difficult for us to determine whether keeping them at a hatchery was cruel or beneficial but they did look cute nonetheless.
The following morning, we were up at sun rise to face another long and extremely bumpy ride to Uda Walawe National Park. With 76.000 acres of lush vegetation and vast lakes, this park is home to about 400 elephants (yippee!) and 5 or 6 leopards.........oh........you can guess what we saw then!
It was interesting to see how different Indian elephants are to African but that is as far as we got when it came to learning more about these creatures as our guide and tracker could not speak English - useful eh!
Although we had a nice day here, it was very pricey for what we got. Definitely recommended if you have never experienced a safari and want to see Indian elephants but if, like us you have been on a 3 day African safari, you can give this a miss
Overall, we have enjoyed our stay in Sri Lanka. The people have good hearts and lovely smiles. If the weather was kind to us we really would have been happy to spend our entire 6 days on the beach - that was the plan! Unfortunately our patience with the rain ran out after 3 days and this did not give us enough time to adapt our trip and experience the ancient and cultural side to Sri Lanka. This really would have made our trip more complete.
Next exciting part of our journey is back into India and next stop Kerala..........!