Sri Lanka

Arriving at the gateway to Yala – paradise found

From Rekawa, it was a relatively short hop (about an hour) on the bus to our next destination- Hambantota, the perfect place to visit the Yala or Budalla national parks from.

We waved goodbye to Mama Daisy and Janaka, and caught the next bus from Netolpitiya Junction heading towards Tissa. With a little help from the friendly ticket man -and the rest of the bus too it seemed!- they all made sure we got off safely at the Unamalala Junction by the Statue of Anderey, around 3km east of Hambantota, which is the salt capital of Sri Lanka and has a beautiful little protected harbour.

The 45km journey to Unamalala in total cost us only 130SLR on the bus (that’s 60p!). Travel is so cheap and cheerful to do here if you are happy to use the public buses and trains, and I can’t see much reason why you wouldn’t. Everyone is so polite and eager to help, too. They helped us with our bags and moved over so we could sit together. One elderly man even made a point of coming over just to say to us, ‘You are most welcome here,’ on his way off the bus.

  
Through the window, the land became more sparse and arid, as we left the green lushness of the lagoon behind. Monkeys perched on road signs that warned drivers to watch out for elephants crossing.

For the next two nights we will be staying at River Island, Yala. Having stayed with Nelun’s family in Colombo, she invited us to use her holiday home out here as a base for seeing Yala’s famous national park too. When we first arrived back in Colombo, Nelun looked over our travel plans and gave us all of the information she could to help us on our way. She has even organised us a full day safari with people she knows while we are staying here in Yala for 10500SLR -much cheaper than we would have been able to get on our own- covering the cost of the jeep, the driver, and a guide. To get into the park itself we will also have to pay a tourist entrance fee of 15 US dollars each.

River Island is a little slice of leafy paradise nestled between the dusty scrub land found in this part of Sri Lanka. Elegant trees spread over the river that lazily winds behind the house where we sit on a wide, shadey terrace. It is the perfect place for basking in the heat of the afternoon while watching the wildlife move around us. We sip on creamy mugs of tea and coffee. We have the place to ourselve. Samantika, Nelun’s smiling house keeper, looks after us. Apart from the fan whizzing above our heads, the peace is complete.

  

   

Neluns taste in home design is, as we found in Colombo, exquisite. Inside it is simple and charming, with our mattresses rolled out on the bare platform, the sheets clean and white. Luxshmann’s photographs proudly line the walls. Round the side there is an open air shower that looks gorgeous, and there is even a little balcony tower above the bathroom- the perfect platform for me to practise my yoga on.

   
  
Ah, life! It is perhaps fair to say that we feel like we have found heaven here.

  

I just opened my bag to discover a little froggie friend inside!- he must have hopped in for the ride all the way from Rekawa! Maybe he’s a bit dazed from the journey (it’s hard to tell), but he seemed happy enough, I took him down towards the river and he gently waddled off my palm onto a nice damp reed- sorry little buddy, I never intended to become a frognapper.

Also, I just found out that I can spy on Rich and torment him from above with a camera when he’s enjoying his open air shower. Heh heh heh…

  
I do hope you’re all very well.

Much love, and stay breezey 🍍

Roo xx

— Photos coming in about three weeks time when we’re back home, the wifi isn’t strong enough out here to upload many, so you’ll have to wait until then! —

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