06 Dec - 31 Dec 2010 Madiha

Socialist Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka
Clean and spacious double room (no. 6) in prime beach location (only 10 m from the high-water mark), with private sea-view balcony and reliable internet access for LKR 1,500.- or US$ 13.70 per night.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Beach Inns Holiday Resort in Madiha, which we would highly recommend, and for directions:

Relaxing on the Beach Inns' secluded private beach, watching from our balcony (i) bales of endangered green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas), loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) and olive ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivaceafrolicking in the surf, (ii) white-throated kingfishers (Halcyon smyrnensis) perching on the palm trees and (iii) the resident white-bellied sea eagle family (Haliaeetus leucogaster) soaring over the beach, catching up on travel blog and editing on-line photo albums, exploring the rambling beachside village/suburb of Polhena and having a very good time with our British and Seffrican friends Janet (Sir Arthur C. Clarke's last groupie) and Maurice (SY “Cobble”'s last captain).

"I'm sure the universe is full of intelligent life.
It's just been too intelligent to come here."

Exploring the coastal town of Matara (from Mahatara, or “Great Harbour”) with (i) the diminutive Star Fort, a quaint little hexagonal structure built by the Dutch in 1763 CE to protect the river crossing to the main fort area, (ii) the old Dutch colonial district (with the Dutch Reformed Church, one of the earliest Dutch churches on the island), whose eastern side is bounded by a long line of stumpy ramparts and whose northern side is protected by (iii) the Nilwala Ganga, a fine swathe of water full of hungry crocodiles, edged by thick stands of palm trees.

Climbing up the winding staircase to the top of the 50-m (above sea level) high tower of the slender, 1889 CE Dondra Head Lighthouse (with the help of a voluntary donation of LKR 500.- or US$ 4.50 to the lighthouse keeper for the entry, including a short demonstration of the lights: Fl.W15s50m28M) which is the tallest lighthouse in Sri Lanka and marks the island’s southernmost point; thus (i) enjoying sweeping views up and down the coast, (ii) monitoring on the lighthouse keeper’s powerful Furuno AIS radar screen the dense ongoing traffic on the shipping lanes off the coast (with about 200 vessels per day) and (iii) deceiving ourselves with the false hope of spotting Antarctica (over ten thousand nautical miles away) on the southern horizon.
"Were I a Roman Catholic, perhaps I should on this occasion vow to build a chapel to some saint, but as I am not, if I were to vow at all, it should be to build a light-house."

Touring a traditional home-industry manufactory in Polhena where coconut husk is used for the manufacture of brown coir, which subsequently is used in the production of rope, as well as household products like door mats and sacks.

Becoming regulars at the Cathu Madhu Restaurant, a rugged neighbourhood shebeen in Madiha/Polhena, where we enjoyed A.B. Chamly’s excellent and home-cooked Sri Lankan fare for next to nothing: (i) fried rice with pol sambol (a chilli and coconut condiment) for LKR 100.- or US$ -.90, (ii) steamed rice with fish-and-vegetable curry for LKR 100.- and (iii) delicious crisp hoppers (bowl-shaped pancakes that are skilfully fried over a high flame, aka appam) for LKR 10.- each.

Matt: Celebrating the Buddhist (full-moon) Unduvap Poya (the arrival of the Bo Tree sapling in Anuradhapura, brought by Ashoka’s daughter Sangamitta) at Kottagoda where the locals made offerings at their gaudy temple and launched a colourful perahera, or parade, which tasted like a heady brew from three conflicting ingredients: (i) a sombre Sri Lankan religious procession, (ii) a riotous Seffrican high-school competition and (iii) a cut-rate version of a Brazilian samba parade.

Meeting a couple of friendly locals, Ramya & Ajith, and their grown-up children Samadhi and Buddhima in their brand-new house (built with a “tsunami room” for each family on top of it, c. 10 m above the ground) at Polhena, listening to their sad stories about the 2004 CE Indian Ocean Tsunami when each house/family in the village had lost at least one person, and being invited to a sumptuous Sri Lankan Rice‘n Curry together with our friends Mandy & Maurice; many thanks, dear Ramya & Samadhi for your hospitality and such a delicious dinner.

Enjoying (i) a lovely Christmahannukwanzadan cruise on board of MV “Jacob” +94777343433 on 25th of December aka Christmas Day, about 5 nm off the Sri Lankan coast, together with a pod of dolphins and with our friends Janet, Berry, Maurice, Xylia, Derik and Paul, (ii) an excellent Christmahannukwanzadan lunch on 26th of December aka Boxing Day (closely watched by Maurice’s pack of dogs with their hard-nosed philosophy: “If you can’t eat it or screw it, piss on it and move away!”) with Mandy & Maurice and (iii) genuine fish ‘n chips at Janet’s place on New Year’s Eve; many thanks to Janet, Mandy and Maurice, and a Happy New Year to y’all!

Visit the Konni & Matt online albums and order high res travel photos

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