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December 2nd 2014
Published: June 26th 2017
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Geo: 6.38321, 80.0112

Monday 1st December: You will be pleased to hear that yesterday was a relatively blog free day. A rare day spent by the pool and also an even rarer walk down to the beach were we spent 30 minutes! It was a sunny and hot stroll passing quaint well appointed bungalows each with a friendly well fed dog who ran up to greet us. Earlier that morning a troop of monkeys peered at us from the roof of our villa and a huge water monitor lizard strutted about the hotel grounds.....an al fresco dinner by the pool watching a massive electrical storm......

The Hotel is grand and lavish and belongs to a "Mr BIG COCONUT" a Sri Lankan...........all very tasteful apart from a totally tacky water feature by the pool comprising a massive concrete square arch structure which at night, is illuminated by naff little lights and sprays water.......situated nearby is a dreadful climbing frame contraption with strange plastic fruit and a purple caterpillar! I can see those "finger clicking" chunky jewellery wearing Bollywood type families from Mumbai using this place.............demanding types with entourage who pile out of about 3 white Toyota Hi Lux 4X4s and take great delight in "balling out" staff for the most minor slip ups in service.

Today Tuesday 2nd December:

Status Report: 0722hrs - coffee made sitting on verandah soaking up the general "goings on". Birds and crickets have started up their usual chorus some 1 hour ago. A relatively incident free night apart from a major coughing fit after inhaling a sesame seed from one of those sticky brown Indian style sweets you buy in small wooden shops on the side of the road. You know the things......you find a pack of them suppurating 3 months later which have been rammed into a small compartment in your suitcase!

Weather update. BBC World still delighting in pointing out that the whole of Asia will be sunny apart from Sri Lanka which will suffer horrendous rain and land slips.......well so far so good and I am looking out at a blue sky with a few wispy white clouds!

In preparation for our drive South to Galle, we have ordered a Sri Lankan breakfast....

CELEBRITY STATUS: When you are the only guests in a hotel like this you become the centre of attention and whilst it is meant well BUT IT IS REALLY IRRITATING!

Let me give you a case study: At Breakfast this morning ...........arrival to much bowing and scraping from 2 junior staff ( each look about 12)........... napkins instantly put over your knees by them with a flourish!........Table pad re-aligned as I had inadvertently pushed it off centre with my hand. "Sir....tea coffee?"..........Senior member of staff who was overseeing from a distance at once appears with tea. Milk poured and then sugar bowl presented with tea spoon ready for action........more realignment of table mats and offers of assistance lifting items such as butter and toast. Now comes the really irritating bit........all three staff then stand about 5 feet away from the table and watch your every move with an intense stare. The slightest sign of an empty plate and its gone. You reach for the salt and it is whisked away and presented to you.........TOO MUCH! The conversation usually goes as follows....."SIR WHERE BE YOU COMING FROM? .........LONDON........AH LONDON SIR?.........VERY COLD?........YES.............FIRST TIME IN SRI LANKA??......YES.......FOOD TOO SPICY?.........NO.......DO YOU HAVE ANY TABASCO PLEASE?..........MORE TOASTS SIR??????.....END

DEPARTURE FOR GALLE 1100hrs, Lala our driver had yesterday off and it is clear he spent much of it polishing his Toyota. It gleams in the morning sun and out he hops in a "natty" pair of white "Travolta" trousers, frog green stripped shirt, brown patent shoes and a rather useful looking mobile phone pouch hand crafted for one of those old Nokia devices from 1998.To top it all off, he is wearing his best kiss me quick green bird watching hat.............We bid Mr Coconut's staff goodbye and head about 1/2 km down the road to an eco turtle sanctury.

Suspicious that we were about to help fund some sort of scam that exports eggs and young turtles to the food pots of China and Hong Kong I quizz Lala and he assures me it is all above board.

We enter a little "turtly" world dedicated to their survival. At one time, fisherman sold the eggs to unscrupulous traders and restaurants and the population was in dire peril. Now these sanctuaries buy the eggs from the fisherman and hatch them out. In one large tank there are at least 100 little ones (only a few days old) the size of a Jaffa cake all jostling for position. These are released to fend for themselves after 2 weeks. Other tanks contain 2/3 year olds who will be released shortly. These are the size of a larger dinner plates and can be picked up and touched! Their skin is similar to a rather leathery chicken. Clearly all is above board and we leave feeling happier for the experience although only 1 in 1000 survive to adulthood.

The coast road to Galle is idilic. Crystal clear blue seas, golden beaches with coconut trees sway in the warm tropical breeze. However, every few yards there are sinister reminders of what happened here on the 26th December 2004. Ruined houses, graves, and the odd memorial are everywhere. Several thousand lost their lives along this stretch of coastline alone (40,000 in Sri Lanka) and in excess of 250,000 across SE Asia when the Tsunami struck in the early morning. It was caused by a massive earthquake in the Indian Ocean near Sumatra. There was no warning apart from the fact that the sea went far out and many of locals went to inspect the exposed seabed only to perish when the 30m high wall of water crashed over them and their little villages. Whole families were killed in an instant.....their crumbled empty properties still stand as testament to the horrors that took place 10 years ago this month.


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