No leopards but plenty of crocs

Trip Start May 02, 2009
Trip End Dec 03, 2009

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hi everyone, it's time for another update! Joy! I know some of you were worried about us with the crocodiles, but fear not we're still in two pieces.
So from Ella we caught several buses and travelled down some bumpy and dusty roads dodging wild elephants and getting off for endless police and military checkpoints (rumours are that there are some LTTE hiding in the jungle around that area) to get us to Arugam Bay.

We stayed in a beach cabana at the Beach Hut, which was right on the beach. We spent a few days there messing around in the sea, trying our hand at the surf (I failed miserably and hit my head on the reef so quickly called it a day) Andrew had a bit more luck than me but also came out with scrapes from the reef.

We thought it was better to leave it to the locals and the Aussies, so we spent most of the rest of the time messing around in the smaller waves in front of our cabana.

We'd heard that there were lots of crocodiles in the lagoon a few kms down the road in Panama, so we asked around and found a tuktuk driver that would take us down to see them. I'm not sure what I was more scared of - going on a croc 'safari' in a tuktuk, or the fact that we were going to the end of the line beyond which the road was closed due to the LTTE threat.

To cut a long story short, we saw lots of crocodiles - very big ones - and our driver tried to get us as close as possible to them. I got three metres away from the tuktuk (about 30m from the croc), heard a noise behind me and ran back into the tuktuk to hide - good job it turned out to be only a monkey as I don't think a three-wheeler offered that much protection against a 16foot croc!. Despite me hissing at Andrew not to get any closer, he thought it would be a good idea to get a good photo of the croc by climbing into the mangroves on the edge of the swamp. Anyway I had soon had enough and insisted that we go back to the safety of Arugam Bay.

We got up early the next morning, despite having little sleep the night before thanks to our amourous German next door neighbours! We decided to get a tuktuk to Tissamaharama as the constant military checkpoints meant it would take a ridiculous amount of time to travel a short way.

We arrived at Tissa and found a place to stay, and arranged our safari for the next day with a tout who had a sob story about his 9 month old child and no tourists because of the troubles in the north etc etc. He didn't show up the next day because, according to his replacement he was 'sleeping', though later he told us it was because he had to go to hospital, although now had made a miraculous recovery. They tell you anything to get you to sign up with them!

The safari was great. We got to Yala National Park at around 6am and drove through the park in a jeep and saw eagles, peacocks, wild buffalo, wild boar, mongoose, spotted deer, crocodiles (as if we hadn't seen enough!) land monitors, beeeaters, elephants, but still no flaming leopards! We did find a pawprint of one though - and supposed tracks where a leopard had killed something...

That afternoon we headed to Tangalla, a smallish beach town on the South coast, which was badly hit by the tsunami in 2004. There was still lots of evidence of this and it was a bit eerie walking past the derelict hotels, houses etc. We walked for ages with our backpacks to check out all the different places, and eventually settled on the first one.. I see a pattern emerging! We stayed in mangrove gardens, in a lovely cabin right on the beach.

We chilled out on the beach for a couple of days and in the night walked up the beach as apparently turtles came up for nesting... no turtles but we did see tracks where it had hauled itself up the beach - yet another pattern emerging!! We also saw MASSIVE blue crabs the size of our heads, and I picked up lots of pretty shells from the sand which I am going to make into necklaces.

This morning we caught the bus west along the coast to Mirissa, where we are now, for some more relaxation on the beach. I feel that we need it in preparation for the chaos of Colombo and Delhi in a week's time. Anyway that's all for now, love to everyone xxx
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Where I stayed
Ocean Moon

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