Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mud house

Why are you going to Anamaduwa? That's a poor and dry area of Sri Lanka and nothing to do and there's no hotels! Quite a few people kept asking the same question. I explained to them I wanted to see something different, close to nature and that it was the place where you can live without technology and electricity.

Anyway, after 3 and a half hours in a tuk tuk with a great old driver who told us different stories about his life in Sri Lanka. We stopped in between to get some coconut and boiled corn. It was very nice of him to negotiate the price for us and certainly they were really cheap. The coconut was amazingly sweet and good. Finally, after reaching the township of Anamaduwa, we transferred to a van to take us a little further to The Mud House . We were greeted by the very smiley manager and staff which I needed after the long drive. Beni showed us about the place and the facilities. For a city boy like me, this is really different and I think this is probably the perfect chance to experience something unique. Lunch will be served in 30 minutes, Beni told us.
I lay down on the mud bed with soft mattress and fell asleep. After a while Beni said hello near the bed and I apologised for keeping him waiting and I rushed into the natural bathroom covered by trees and probably wild animals could see me. It was great having a shower to make me feel so fresh and clean. We walked about 2 minutes and Beni introduced us to the restaurant staff who provided a very nice lunch made from the organic produce from their garden. I love that idea so much. We didn't need to worry about the menu and what we were going to eat at night. Surprises are always great.
There were lots of activities to participate in during our 4 days here. We started with Beni walking us around the place to their garden, kitchen and also the different mud houses. It's great to sit down to read a book and drink a gin and tonic that we brought ourselves from Kandy which was incredibly expensive ($45).
The next day, we rode our bicycles to the pagoda with Beni riding his Honda Cub. It was fun and we walked up to the hill to see amazing views of the surrounding area. Then Beni took us inside the temple and explained about the history. We enjoyed the morning very much which included some exercise and culture. We headed back to the Mudhouse just before lunch after which we had a cooking class with Mr Guna and Mrs Ukuamma. We made two curries with long beans and gourd. Very tasty!!! The great thing that Sri Lankan cuisine is that don't cook all of their curries with oil and that makes their food quite healthy.
We decided take it easy the last day after our morning of birdwatching. A big rainstorm occurred in the afternoon that make me really excited. The thunder seemed louder in the middle of nowhere and we run into the rain for a quick shower and it was so fun. It brought back so many memories from my childhood when we showered in the rain naked and ran up and down the streets with our friends. Great feeling!!!! This is the last stop on our Sri Lanka trip and it has been a truly memorable place to be!!!

Monday, October 07, 2013

Tangalle, Ella And Kandy

Tangalle is a very small beach town about a 1 hour drive from Mirissa. We decided to spend another 3 lazy days on the beach before heading to the mountain town of Ella . The town itself has a small market and few shops along the main street but the beaches are the main attraction for travellers.
We stayed at the Eden hotel which is located on the main road outside the city and close to the small beach coves around. This is a little hotel with great service, breakfast and delicious food for lunch and dinner. Apart from the time we were out on the beach, we spent most of time reading and having our own gin and tonics in the garden. The owner didn't mind giving us lime and ice as we bought tonic from the restaurant.
The small beaches nearby the hotel were beautiful though we needed to watch where we swam as there were a few rocks underneath. One morning, we took a tuk tuk down to the city to visit the market and take some photos. The sellers in the market were so friendly to us, always smiling and greeting us. I don't think they are very used to foreigners visiting their stalls. We took away some freshly ground spices to make curries back in Hanoi.
After our time in Tangalle, the hotel owner offered to drive us to Ella, a 4 hour trip. He's a very careful driver and also pointed out things of interest along the way. It is great to learn by getting insight from the local people rather than from guidebooks.
We arrived in Ella, famous for waterfalls and trekking and as a gateway to Sri Lanka's tea plantations. Ella is another small town with one road about a km long unless you walk along the rail way to see the local farms. We stayed in a small hotel which was highly recommended by travelers from agoda. After refreshing a bit, we walked out to check out the town and found a small restaurant next to the hotel and the boy served us beer in a tea pot as they don't have a permit to serve alcohol. It was hilarious when he first came out with the pot and explained there was beer with ice in there. They cooked fresh curry to order even though we had to wait a bit but they were so tasty. I don't mind waiting for great food.
I wasn't so fond of Ella compared to the places we'd visited earlier. There was not as much choice for food and sight-seeing here. Anyhow, we left for Kandy - which is quite a big city in the middle of Sri Lanka - for one more night before going on to our last special place. In hindsight, I wish I could have stayed 2 nights as we stumbled across a great small hotel with a fabulous view over the lake, which reminded a bit of Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi.. We went out for a wander and liked the atmosphere very much. People in Kandy was also very friendly. We bought tea at a traditional tea shop as well as some spicy snacks to eat with beer. The traffic was a bit crazier compared to other places but they all stop for pedestrian crossings, unlike Hanoi. We rushed ourselves back to the hotel as a big thunderstorm approached. It was great having dinner, looking at the city view with lightning and thunder. I love this kind of ambience.