ROYSTON’S REPORT Number 161
Tropical Topics, Sunday 19 May 2013.
Welcome to this week’s newsletter from Sri Lanka where we are celebrating the monsoon with days of wind, rain – and sunshine!
Made in Sri Lanka
The saltpans of Hambantota in Sri Lanka’s deep south have long been famous so I was pleased to see roadside vendors offering salt for sale during my recent visit to the harbour and airport there.
The best deal was to purchase eight packets of salt for Rs100 [ 52p; 80c]. Since each packet contains 500g of salt crystals and is price marked at Rs35 each, it was a bargain. Now of course I’m wondering what to do with 4kg of rock salt.
After touring temples, tea estates, wild life game reserves and souvenir shops, what about having a real, old fashioned holiday break? That means lying in the sun by the sea at Unawatuna, rated as among the ten best beaches in the world (and the only beach in Sri Lanka oozing fun where you can drink and eat as the surfs laps your feet).
It’s not just the sand, sea and sun that makes it a great beach but also the other activities – including the beach bars that turn out some great fish dishes and where the partying seems to go on all night. No hassles either.
Here’s a photo of sun worshippers outside Lucky Tuna, refreshingly the antidote to a boutique hotel (in spite of what the sign says), with friendly service, cheap meals and a couple of simple beach view rooms above its log cabin bar. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Unwatuna Beach scene (Photo by Neel)
Flying to Mattala
Following my report last week on the new international airport at Mattala, in the deep south of Sri Lanka, I have received many enquiries from readers overseas who don’t want to drive to the airport, but want to fly there from their home countries.
Road sign to airport
At present this is possible by connecting at the main international airport (code CMB) for SriLankan Airline’s (www.srilankan.com) flights to Mattala (code: HRI) on the following days: Monday UL818 CMB1240/HRI1315; Tuesday UL119 1025/1100; Wednesday UL119 0710/0745; Friday UL858 1240/1315; and Sunday UL273 1200/1235.
On Mondays and Fridays, UL114 flies from Male’ at 1130 and arrives Mattala at 1325. There are flights from Bangkok on Tuesday (UL819 BKK 0610/HRI 0755) and Wednesday (UL819 BKK 0915/HRI 1110). There is a flight every Sunday from Riyadh (UL274 RUH 1740/HRI 0150 [Monday]). Bon voyage!
On the way to the new international airport, I spotted this warning of an unexpected road hazard.
Beware. Elephants crossing
Dish of the week
In last week’s newsletter I wrote excitedly about the seafood platter I enjoyed at the Hambantota Resthouse for Rs750. This week I’ve moved upmarket and tried the seafood kebab platter at the Chaaya Traanz 4-star hotel in Hikkaduwa.
Seafood kebabs at Chaaya Tranz
It consisted of three skewers, each with a cube of fish (mullet), calamari and single farmed prawn. Added to this was a simple salad of lettuce, grated carrots and sliced black olive drenched in a dressing that had a hint of mint. There were two sauces: a salsa and another of pineapple and snake gourd cubelets. It was an ample snack for lunch and, even upmarket, cost only Rs650 [£ 3.42; $ 5.20]
Australian writer wanted
Are you Australian and a writer in need of somewhere to concentrate while you write, or do you know of one? If so, click on http://writersvictoria.org.au/services/fellowships/templeberg-residential-writing-fellowship
This is a fellowship for fiction, non-fiction and performing arts writers, poets, journalists and bloggers that includes return economy airfares, accommodation at Templeberg Villa (www.templeberg.com) in Galle, southern Sri Lanka, full board for month and a $1,000 allowance. Applications close on 14 June, so apply quickly!
As a professional writer I know how being in Sri Lanka helps me with my work. Not just because of the 3 S’s (scenery, service and serenity), but also because days can be structured solely around writing, making the most of the inspiring bliss of staying in this gracious plantation cottage.
Templeberg writer’s cottage
I visited Templeberg a few days ago. The Writer’s Cottage is a two bedroom, clay tiled building with a bathroom linking the two bedrooms, at the back of the inner lawn of Templeberg. It looks like the perfect place for a guest, whether a writer or not, who wants to be independent while also enjoying the food and facilities of the main Templeberg bungalow.
Templeberg paddling pool
Guests can cool down in the small rock pool in the garden. It was an abandoned lotus pond that has been converted into a water filled space with boulders left in place as seats for chilling out as the sun sets. Meals are taken in the semi-open parlour with a view of the inner lawn and are prepared using locally grown ingredients where possible.
To get to Templeberg, whether to write or for few days break (at around US$120 per night), leave the Galle exit of the Southern Expressway then turn left at the first set of traffic lights into the Akuressa Road. After driving about 300m, the first lane on the left leads up hill to the plantation gates and the curving drive up to the bungalow. And to creative peace.
For 13 years (1966-1979) I lived exclusively on the island of Dominica and during the 1980s commuted between there and Sri Lanka as I gradually changed islands. To see what Dominica is like today, click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbrIJbUMC5s
Sri Lanka guide
For more on Sri Lanka, my Bradt guide is available through http://www.bradtguides.com/Book/552/Sri-Lanka.html