Archive for July, 2015

Ferry well

Saturday, July 25th, 2015

Ferry well

ROYSTON REPORTS, Number 265

Sunday 26 July 2015

Welcome to this week’s news from Sri Lanka.

Ferry Good

Last week I drove down the east coast of the island from Trincomalee to Passikudah. There might not seem anything remarkable in that statement but it’s only recently been possible to drive on a road (the A15) for the entire distance. That’s because all the rivers and lagoons that had to be crossed by ferry have at last been bridged.

Of course, the introduction of bridges means a loss of livelihood for the ferry boys, and perhaps that’s ferry good.

Ferry Boy (1938)

Ferry Boy (1938)

 

Eastern Promise

The name of Passikudah has been bandied around in Sri Lanka since the 1970s when it was seen as the beach destination of the future. Both natural and war disasters delayed that prophecy coming true but now hotels are gradually opening up there. It may well be the “Destination of the Future” but not of “Right Now.” I stayed at the Marina Passikudah, a pleasant economical option (double room with breakfast available through on line agencies at US$78++) among a clutch of fancy-priced properties.

Fishing boats at Passikudah beach

Fishing boats at Passikudah beach

The hotel is in the middle of the beach strip, opposite an agricultural station where dragon fruits are being cultivated at the road side. New hotels are being built on either side of it and the huge beach seems to stretch for miles, both along the coast and out into the ocean where the sea is gentle and shallow. To the northern end fishing boats are drawn up on the shore, while at the southern end there is a public beach section with a swimming area cordoned off and a police lifeguard to restrain over-enthusiastic revellers.

Public beach at Passikudah

Public beach at Passikudah

At Marina Passikudah (http://www.LSRhotels.com), the emphasis is on diving and water sports, but that’s not compulsory. It’s possible to do nothing at all but laze poolside by the beach while a steward in natty black brings drinks.

Prompt bar service, Marina Passikudah

Prompt bar service, Marina Passikudah

My room, 104, on the first floor, opened onto a shared balcony that spanned the length of a three-storey block of rooms leading to the beach. Bougainvillaea bedecked the balcony rails overlooking the hotel’s carefully maintained lawn.

There is an air of exclusivity about Passikudah, perhaps because there are no beach vendors hassling guests. There aren’t any independent bars or restaurants either, in fact no “after-beach” life at all. Yet. Perhaps that’s its attraction?

Marina Passikudah for water sports

Marina Passikudah for water sports

Flaky

Kumara, my house manager, has warned me not to buy on impulse items I know nothing about when I spot them on supermarket shelves. But that’s exactly why I buy, to find out what they are.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have bothered with my latest purchase. It’s called Rice Flackes [sic] and 200g cost Rs70 [35p; $ 0.53c] and it’s just flakes of rice. To confound me even more there was no recipe just some brief instructions in Sinhala, which Kumara translated as: ‘soak in water, squeeze out water, add coconut.’

 

Rice cereal

Rice cereal

So guessing this is some kind of breakfast cereal, I soaked the flakes in hot water, discarded it, and then added milk and sugar. It wasn’t very pleasant. Flaky actually.

 

Match box puzzle

I have heard from Vinodh Wickremeratne, the dedicated expert on Sri Lankan Railways, in response to my puzzlement about the steam locomotive shown on this match box label.

Mystery train match box

Mystery train match box

As I surmised, No. 501 it is not a locomotive from Ceylon. Vinodh writes:
It is a British built export series. Same loco is in Thailand. I have seen two there. The overall silhouette is as a smaller scaled version of the Flying Scotsman.”

 

Stories at Sunset

Next Saturday, 1 August, Sri Lanka’s indefatigable author, man-about-town and jolly good friend, Ashok Ferrey, is hosting another interview session at the Closenberg Hotel, Galle. It’s a free event that starts at 5.30pm with a complimentary glass of wine before a 6pm interview with Chhimi Tenduf-La.

Sunset story star, Chhimi Tenduf-La

Sunset story star, Chhimi Tenduf-La

Half English, half Tibetan, Chhimi Tenduf-La grew up in Hong Kong, London, Delhi and Colombo, where he now lives with his wife, Samantha, and daughter, Tara. The Amazing Racist is his first novel. His second novel, Panther, will be released by HarperCollins India in July 2015.  This is a chance not only to learn more about the author and his books but also to tuck into sushi (not free) at the bar on the Luna terrace (by the ‘floating’ swimming pool).

Card Slot

Number 18. FROM FACTORY TO PORT

(From 50 years ago. Issued by British grocers Seymour Mead & Co Ltd)

“Each Ceylon tea estate has its own factory. When the tea leaves have been through the various processes they are stored in bins until there is sufficient of each grade to be sent off to the tea markets of the world. Then the tea is packed into the familiar plywood chests, lined with tin-foil and paper to keep it dry and untainted. A chest holds anything from 100 to 120lb of tea. These chest are sent to the ports of Trincomalee, Colombo and Galle, from where they travel all over the world, marked with the grade, the name of the estate and the quantity stencilled on the outside.”

 

Blogging

I know “blog” is a horrible word but it has created a new profession: bloggers, an equally off-putting title by which I prefer not to be known. However, I do “blog,” to coin a phrase. As well as this newsletter, for which I receive no sponsorship as I prefer to feature only the things that interest me – and my thousands of readers – I write “blogs” for travel companies.

You can see my weekly contribution here: http://www.srilankatailormade.com/blog/ 

and a monthly one on: http://www.thesrilankatravelblog.com

Beat regards

Royston