5th - 17th February

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Where I stayed
Ibis Guesthouse

Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Saturday, February 5, 2011

We took the local bus along the coast from Galle to Matara, where we changed and caught another to Tangalle, a three hour journey. We arrived at the Ibis Guesthouse, which sits directly on the beach on the Indian Ocean.  Our first floor room with a balcony overlooking the beach and the sea was perfect with four poster beds decked out in lacy mosquito nets and a cooling fan overhead. 

Our stay at the Ibis was as relaxed as it could possibly be. Our days were spent lying on the beach listening to the waves crash ashore and reading; I would paddle at the water's edge (strong currents, undertows and large rocks made me prudent), while Patrick would play in the waves and enjoy being thrown about; we’d occasionally walk the 1.5 km into town and wander round the colourful market, full of exotic fruits and vegetables I’d never seen before and admiring the large pond full of lily pads and flowers in bloom; we’d go for long walks along the beach up to the lagoon, where we could wade across, up to our waists, and carry on along 'lonely’ beach; we watched masses of fireflies flitting through the fairy-like groves and high into the tops of the palms; we’d sit in the guesthouse restaurant, feeling the ocean breeze as we ate fresh barracuda caught by our host and drank cold Sri Lankan ‘Lion’ beer.

Our room was named ‘Paradise’ and indeed we felt very near to it whilst staying at the Ibis.  The staff were lovely and laid back (no doubt due to their regular smoke of the local ganja!) and the beaches were pleasantly empty except for fellow guests.  It was a stunning setting, with the lagoon behind our guesthouse and winding round down to meet the sea.  The beaches stretched white, against the aqua of the ocean, for miles.  The seashells were incredibly beautiful of all sizes, types and colours and I would spend hours just happily beachcombing.

The highlight of my stay in the Ibis, was when I had the incredible good fortune one night to be awoken by Ranjith, the guesthouse owner, knocking on our door saying ‘turtle on the beach’.  Though it was only 11pm, he still roused me from slumber.  While Patrick carried on sleeping, I dressed and went down to the beach and walked up a short stretch, where I found the staff of the guesthouse and one other couple crouched about 20 metres from a sea turtle, who was digging a hole to deposit her eggs.   We waited and watched for about a half an hour and Ranjith then shimmied along the sand and got closer to the turtle until he beckoned us over.  Sea turtles go into a kind of trance once they start to lay their eggs and are not disturbed by light or sound, so we were able to get right up next to the turtle and watch has she deposited egg after egg, sometimes two at a time.  They are about the size of a ping pong ball and gelatinous. I’ve no idea how many eggs this turtle laid, but there were at least 15 to 20 that I could see and apparently they are known to lay as many as a hundred at a time!  When she had finished laying her eggs, she proceeded to use her flippers to fill up the hole with sand.  Once the hole had been filled in and her eggs thoroughly covered, she began to thump her body and her shell down on to the sand, alternating this thumping movement with a smoothing out of the sand with her flippers.  She carried on with this for a few minutes and then moved on a couple of feet further and again began smoothing out the sand and thumping with her shell, apparently in an effort to confuse any possible predators, as to where the eggs are laid.  We then watched hypnotically as she slowly made her way back down to the sea where she gently disappeared in one easy glide into the surf.  It was magical and something I will never forget.  I was fortunate enough to have had a fairly intimate experience of turtle watching, which most tourists don’t.  Along the coast here, many tourists go in groups and pay to see the turtles at specific sites, where there is no guarantee that you will see a turtle. When I asked Ranjith how he knew that there was a turtle, he explained that it is because he is a diver (fisherman, free diver) and he can sense/smell it. 

We were very happy beachcombers for twelve days in Tangalle, enjoying the gentle warm breeze, the time to read, sleep, relax and even to plan the next steps of our journey….. the long awaited Southeast Asia!
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Comments

Anna on

That sounds amazing!! Especial the turtle watching!

Gill Lewis on

I'm loving the updates and so nice to see pics after hearing about your night time excursion - Patrick really missed out there........too many zzzzzzzzzz'd eh!

Barrett on

Thanks for the updates Louise. Looks like a trip of a lifetime. So jealous...

liz on

wow......what a fantastic experience.very very jealous!!! it's such a beautiful country..........wish i was there.

binky on

haven't been in touch until now but I am really enjoying your amazing voyage. It looks divine. think of you often

anice flesh on

These are amazing! Hope you are safe with the tsunami in Japan this morning. I am in San Francisco.

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