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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

4 January 2020

Gallewards

Breakfast buddy at Spice Lodge

Breakfast buddy at Spice Lodge

23 December 2019

Today we’re off to Galle, and hopefully three nights to relax in a comfy hotel room. We’ve liked the Spice Lodge though, it’s remarkably well thought-out and the family who run it are charming. Oh, and their Sri Lankan breakfast in the morning is the best so far. Lots of fruit, some delicate pancakes wrapped around sweetened coconut paste, and nicely blackened pol roti with fragrant sambol and tasty daal.

Buduruwagala

Buduruwagala

The drive to Galle is another 4-5 hour adventure with winding roads, busy towns and crazy bus drivers. We break the journey only once, for a low-key ancient monument that I rather liked. The rock-carved figures at Buduruwagala appear unexpectedly in a clearing in the jungle, grand and peaceful. The tank that you drive along to get there is also one of the prettiest, with water hyacinth in flower and pelicans perched on a broken tree.

The tanks of Sri Lanka are interesting. They are ancient reservoirs. Sri Lanka from above looks like it has a lot of lakes, but the vast majority are man-made and many almost 2000 years old. The ancients were adept at spotting hollows and then blocking the natural outflow with a bund – an earth embankment – creating an artificial lake. Most of them look completely natural now, of course, it’s only when you spot that the land is lower on the other side of the bund that you realise.

Galle, civilisation (for tourists)

Galle, civilisation (for tourists)

Galle old town is pretty, in a shabby way. It reminds me a bit of Vigan in the Philippines: most of the shops and restaurants are for tourists, many of the heritage buildings are hotels, and it’s all in a compact network of a handful of streets with the more ordinary bustle of the modern town outside.

We settle in, and head out for another disappointing attempt at Sri Lankan food. Our hotel manager seemed knowledgeable, but her recommended local family restaurant served very average rice and curry with no heat in at all. When we asked for it spicy, they just served us a side dish of chopped habanero salsa (called “cobra chilli” here) so hot it gave us a day of digestive anguish to follow.

I’m so happy about our very first stay at Wilpattu Safari Camp. If it hadn’t been for that, I’d be skeptical there was any such thing as good Sri Lankan curry.

Buduruwagala

Buduruwagala


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