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Monday, September 12, 2016

How to go to Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

Surfing in Hikkaduwa

I have this specific list of all the places I wanted to go to but Sri Lanka was never on that list. Unsurprisingly , my wanderlust soul took me to this beautiful country. I'm always fascinated with places I have no interest at all. It actually took me forever to search where to go here and there for our itinerary, but when I had the chance to do so my eyes can't deny the beauty of the southeastern part of India. The tickets were quiet expensive for direct flights to Sri Lanka, instead we took connecting flights to reach Colombo. After work I went straight to the airport, hop in to our plane to KL and slept as we waited for our next flight to Colombo. 

28 Jul 2016 Thu DEPART from Singapore
Singapore to Kuala Lumpur  AirAsia AK722 , 11:00Pm - 12:05Am 
Sleep in the Airport 
29 July Fri ARRIVAL in Colombo - Colombo to Hikkaduwa
Kuala Lumpur to Colombo AirAsia AK43, 8:30Am - 9:30Am 
Visa on Arrival ( Philippine Passport): 65 SGD / 40 SGD
Colombo to Hikkaduwa by Bus

Airport to Colombo Fort Railway to Hikkaduwa:

How to get there: Airport to Colombo Fort Railway (Bus & Train Station) 
Head outside the airport gate. Take the Express bus number 187 alight at the last stop for Colombo Fort Railway.
Travel time: 1-2 hours
Bus Fare: 110 Rupees

Colombo Fort Railway to Hikkaduwa
At Colombo Fort Railway, take Bus Number 2 to Hikkaduwa , get off at the last stop. 
Travel time: 3-4 hours
Bus Fare: 120 Rupees

Hikkaduwa is a small town located in the south coast of the Southern side of Sri Lanka. According to my research it's the best place for beginners or amateur wannabe surfers like me on a off surf season. Surfing is widely in demand in Sri Lanka. The waves are spectacular during the surf months of October till May, there's always a place to surf as what the locals said. If you want to ride the big boys check out Arugam Bay on the East Coast during May till September and Hikkaduwa in November till April of the South Coast.

Just a reminder, most of the locals don't speak English. Make sure to ask the driver before hopping to any bus and train for the destination, don't rely solely on your research. Some may find it irritating, never mind, just make sure you'' get to your desired location. Even if the sign says your destination , its better to ask than be sorry. The bus to Hikkaduwa was pleasing to the eyes, fresh air and blue waters welcomes you to the south side of the island. There are quick pit stops to give passengers time to stretch out. On one of those stops we bought our very first Sri Lankan snack for 40 rupees. It's like a soft prata filled with some vegetable like curry. After more than three hours of sightseeing with the bus we've arrived in a junction nearby the Hikkaduwa bus terminal. The driver said to keep walking straight from the terminal to the beach road then will eventually find our guesthouse. We did as what he said we walked with our sleepy eyes, heavy bags and with the heat of the sun however that took us 30 minutes to get to our guesthouse, if you got some extra rupees wave a tuk-tuk driver. Along the way people kept asking us if we needed a room for the night. That's just hit us if you're bound for Hikkaduwa you don't need to book a guesthouse or a hotel ahead of time. We've discovered that there are plenty of available rooms for a cheap price of 1,000 to 2,000 rupees for a night, just avoid the peak season of course. One more thing they seriously respect the human body and they don't want people to walk around parading their beautiful skin to onlookers. Just keep in mind no swimming attire in the streets. Bikini's are only allowed at the beach. 

Check in International Beach Hotel & Restaurant via (pay on arrival)
2 nights, includes breakfast : 94 SGD/ 13725 Rupees 

Brunch in Moon Shadow Restaurant, located just beside the hotel.  We ordered Sri Lanka's Beer the Lion Lager, Sri Lanka's Traditional Meal which is Home Curry with Vegetables and grilled octopus with rice. What I love about this dish is the five variety of vegetables that comes along with the meal. I also added chicken curry, mixed fruit shake and my all time favorite watermelon shake. Our first meal was a bit pricey paid around 4,000 rupees. 

I've noticed that Sri Lankan men are friendly and kind while the females were shy and demure in the countryside. With that said I've talked to majority of men during the whole trip. It feels like a country living in the past where only men are expected to mingle with strangers. 

No scheduled plans for the rest of the day. The remaining hours before sunset was spent strolling in the beach, running like kids, digging our toes in the sand and playing with the water. An old man approached us while we hang out in the beach. He has a kind face with only two prominent front tooth yet gave us a smile all the way to his ears. In his hands were two aloe vera stems, he uses this for his massage services. He offered us to try it out, we declined politely. Instead of wandering off he sat down and explained his methods, a sales strategy or just a friendly medicine man. I listened intensively to everything he said, strangers gives us the most interesting bizarre stories of all time. He told me his life story as a traditional therapist, his foreign customers and the secrets of healing. There are certain points in our body that causes and releases pain. In Sri Lankan massage what they do to cure muscle strain is through pressing certain points in your body. I was tasked by the medicine man to remember this certain points, surprisingly the information is embedded in my mind. Just a press here and there and everything will be ok, If only life was that simple. When I was almost convinced to try his foot massage he got up and bid goodbye. I just love strangers! 

Dinner time we walked around Hikkaduwa and found this small restaurant by the street called Sunil's Roti Stop. The staff were friendly and accommodating. One stuffed roti and fried pineapple prata cost less that 100 rupees. 

The next day we've booked a surfing session with Thusitha Tours.  There are only a few travel tours open, they only come alive during the surf season. We meet Jhween, our surfing instructor, I'm not really sure If he's affiliated with this tour agency. He's usually booked for private session with Russian students, yes he speaks Russian, isn't that just cool? Sometimes he even picks them up all the way from Russia to Sri Lanka for the surf lessons. Our timing was perfect he was available, I mean with my close-up perfect smile how could he say no? just kidding! Ahahaa

30 July Sat  Hikkaduwa
Half day Surfing lesson for 8,500 Rupees (2 pax) 
Seafood Meal at Moonlight Seafood Restaurant: 4,000 Rupees
Sri Lanka Massage for 7,000 Rupees (2 pax)
Pizza: 1,000 Rupees

Jhween picked us up with his tuk-tuk ride around 8 in the morning which gave us enough time to have our breakfast. Morning meal was served with toasted bread, eggs, jam, butter, coffee and a banana shake. Eggs and Banana are my running crew which reminds me to go for my running routine early in the morning. It makes me wonder why I've never done any running in all my trips, I'm just slacking off and eating my heart out. Maybe for my next trip I'll do some 5 kilometers run for a change. It was a 30 minutes ride to Galle fort and off to the beach side. The guys in the shop welcomed us with warm tea and cute smiles. As what I said guys are super friendly in Sri Lanka that it might somehow be mistaken as flirting for some reason but I don't think of it that way. It feels like I've worked too long in Singapore that I forgot how it feels like to be surrounded with gentlemen. The surfer dudes were genuinely happy with their line of work. It makes me wonder if I'm doing my life right, if I'm tying myself with the right job and if I still want my life in the big city. This is what traveling does to people, it opens up questions that you're afraid to ask yourself and answers you knew all along.

The sun was shinning bright and the waves were joyfully at play. I was nervous. Waves reminded me of my bad experiences back when I was in college. As what they say sooner or later the tides will change, you will need to face the same battle again. The only way for me to survive is to forget what happened, I did that but the feeling remained the same. I'm great with isolating and organizing my thoughts, hiding the least memorable moments is easy still depending on the extent of the damage. This past experience really affected me big time. I told myself to Focus. I trusted my surfing instructor, gulped for every passing stride and just ride the waves. Basic hand and body postures was instructed. I learned that the back leg for support must always be strong while the front one maneuvers the rides. Sounds easy. It was piece of cake but it was a very huge kind of birthday cake where in two people can fit inside it. Even thou it was pretty tough the surfing activity was the highlight of our trip. Being able to stand on the board was the best thing ever! 

To reward such an enormous achievement we went for a seafood platter meal to celebrate, even had pizza for dinner. We went back to the hotel with a happy tummy and a satisfied heart. Late the night we allowed ourselves to be pampered with a Sri Lanka massage. I realized an authentic Sri Lanka Massage really just focus on pressing certain body points like acupressure massage but in a gentle way. Getting used to Balinese and Thai Massage made it feel like someone was just gently tapping and pressing my back, but at least we get to experience a different kind of massage. Done with the beach and off we go to the mountain side, our next destination is the beautiful town of Ella from the central highlands of Sri Lanka.

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