Friday, February 15, 2013

Great Escape-Part II

Our Transportation while at Bentota.  Di and Saranth
What We Did
We opted to not hire a car and just hired drivers when needed. In addition to needing an international permit and a Sri Lankan permit, we would be learning to drive on the left side of the road in right hand drive car in some of the most wild driving conditions we have ever experienced. Those people could drive in Naples with one eye closed.

I ran into a young man who gave me a ride in his Tuk Tuk (3-wheeled machine) to a Buddhist temple just 2 km from the hotel back in the jungle. It included a trip thru local neighborhoods, then a tour by the monk who kept talking about George Washington, Lyndon Johnson and JFK.  Very nice sculptures and artwork. 

The neighborhood near the Temple
I was allowed in the temple wearing knee length shorts, but some want men in long trousers and women to cover their shoulders. Sri Lankan women dress moderately on the beach as well with skirts and shirts – no bikinis. Di had an uncanny experience on the beach about 1/4 mile from the hotel...a young woman with her boyfriend giggled at her and tried to cover her with her towel. It was surprising because of all the other Europeans in bikinis around. Makes you think...about too many things for a vacation!

Uninformed tourist with a turtle baby
Speaking of thinking, Sri Lanka is home to 5 species of sea turtle – all endangered. We heard about turtle hatcheries that hatch eggs and release the babies into the sea. The eggs are collected at night by local fishermen who spot turtles laying eggs, then they sell them to the hatcheries. We thought it sounded good, but after we visited one of the private businesses, we learned (too late) that they keep the babies around a few days in water tanks instead of releasing them quickly – this is so tourists have something to see, touch, etc.  Sadly, the baby turtles released from these places may have nearly a 0% survival rate. In natural conditions there is a 2% survival rate. We fell into the tourist trap taking a tuk tuk drive in the rain to a hatchery. The "real" conservation groups protect the beach nest sites. More of this should be done. Here is a link for a very good article on the subject. We will save elephants, crocodiles and monkeys for future trips.

The Snorkeling location
We went snorkeling one day an hour south of the hotel in the town of Hikkaduwa. Di had read how the tsunami ruined the coral reefs and they are still recovering. Nice clear warm water with pretty fish. You want to do this in the morning when the water is clearest.  Don't get a ride in an outrigger canoe – they are very difficult to climb into from the water. Pay a little more for a motorboat--unless you are a world-class athlete or young and flexible.

Busy streets
We didn't learn any Sri Lankanese while we were there...Italian is hard enough
It took us awhile to adjust to the Sri Lankan rupee.  I traded in €400 at the hotel and was given over 63,000 rupees!  Things not linked to tourism are very cheap there, but one must pack a wad of money around. 

In front of the local ATM
The monk, his young to-be-student-monk, and the old guy

Fruit bats roosting

We will have many good memories of this place. We saw a couple sea eagles flying overhead. We also saw fruit bats flying at dusk near our room. Those things have a wing-span of nearly 2 feet. Our tuk tuk driver Sanath showed us bats roosting during the day right next to the highway. The sunsets were beautiful but not in the spectacular Calabrian way. We were happy to get back home to Casa del Tramonto where spring is on the way...we hope!


  1. A wonderful re-cap of your trip. It sounds like a perfect return-to location! I'm pleased that you had such a great experience.

  2. Thank you,
    As always, Laura, you are thoughtful!



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