Travels with V

Sri Lanka

Finally – lazy days on the beach

Unawatuna and Galle

THE HOLY GALLERY LIGHTS UP EVERYTIME THE BUS DRIVER BREAKS

From Matara – yes, you’ve guessed it – we take the bus further west along the south coast of Sri Lanka, to Unawatuna. This is one of the island’s best beaches, a half-moon shaped bay with a broad stretch of soft sand, and a reef that smooths out the ocean waves. And some great beach bars and restaurants, of which one, called Kingfisher, becomes our absolute dinner favourite. They lay their tables on the sand and make delicious fish meals that melt in the mouth.

This is where we spend our last days in Sri Lanka. But one day we explore Galle, the nearby town with its old Fort, with narrow streets and hip bars. Suddenly there’s a marching band leading a row of Christian worshippers into Fort, and the band actually has a whole melodica section.

Galle used to have a huge and famous market by the seafront, but it was all swept away by the tsunami. Many fishermen also lived there, near their boats, and they too lost their homes. They were relocated to areas inland, far away from the harbour and their means of living. We meet a tuk-tuk driver who takes us on a trip around town and to tell us what happened, and there’s obviously a general dissatisfaction with how the city handled the consequences of the disaster.

AFTER THE TSUNAMI (PIC BY UKFG)
TODAY

The market stands were slowly returning to the sea front when we were there, but the main part of the old market, that on December 27, 2004 looked like a giant pile of rubble, is now a large green where kids play football. Green grass has covered the surface where bamboo, wood planks, cloth and bodies of drowned people once lay. And new life cover old wounds.

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