Hawaii meets India is how I best can describe Sri Lanka. It literally has all the best of both countries and possibly some of the finest food in the world. Hikkaduwa is a touristy little town about 2 hours drive South of Colombo with white sandy beaches, thousands of palm trees and a range of accommodation right on the beach.
We booked a little cottage about 3 km’s from the centre of town, as we wanted a place for the kids to play. The house was perfect, right on the beach, uninterrupted views, a braai area and a big fridge for the cold Corona’s.
Although Thailand got a lot of press during the Tsunami, Sri Lanka was the 2nd worst country to get hit, with close to 50 000 people dying. Hikkaduwa and Galle, right next door to each other, were two towns devastated by the Tsunami.
The Sri Lanka people are some of the most friendly and positive I’ve ever met and although many people lost family members in the civil war and the Tsunami, they have such a positive outlook on life. We spent quite a few days, exploring the local market, the Turtle hatchery and the very emotional Tsunami Museum.
The hatchery was run by a local family before the Tsunami hit, but as it was directly in front of the 10 meter wave, it was completely destroyed and the whole family, except the son, were killed. The son has taken the reigns and now buys the turtle eggs from the locals, as they believe that eating them will make them strong. He then hatches the eggs and releases the turtles back into the ocean.
One of the more moving experiences on a trip so far, was a visit to the Tsunami Museum, run by a lady whose house was destroyed in the disaster. I’m sure there are a lot of museums around the world depicting death, but this one seemed so real, as it’s a ladies house with hundreds of pictures of people, who lives were changed forever in a few hours.
The Tsunami came in two waves, the first being quite small then drawing the sea back about a kilometer, with locals walking out to see what was going on. The second wave was 10 meters high and was travelling at 150 km’s an hour. One thousand seven hundred people died in a matter of minutes, many whom had found shelter at the train station in stationary trains.
Part of our travels is to spend time in places and get to know people, let the kids go to the local school and generally enjoy daily life. We really thought that we would do this in India, but Hikkaduwa really changed our minds and we’ve hired a small place on the beach and will be staying here for another six weeks or so.