Day four: Visit the beautiful shallow beach of Passikudh
After breakfast you will take a short drive along the eastern coast towards Pasikuda. Upon arrival to your hotel you will be given a towel to relax on the beach, sunbathe or grab a cocktail under the shade of the restaurant. This is the perfect way to chill out and enjoy the Sri Lankan coast. The white sand, the clear blue water and the stillness of the sea are captivating and exceptional. The soft sandy beach and the shallow water create a perfect place for sunbathing. The activities you can enjoy here are waterskiing, snorkelling and many more.
As the sun rises at about 6am, I’m on the balcony watching the sky turn from black to orange to yellow, then a watery blue. There are plenty of people either fishing from boats on the water or walking along the shoreline. We don’t have time to walk along the beach today because we’ve got to visit the places we didn’t get to yesterday. We are still getting used to the driver, who hasn’t improved one little bit. I cannot work out who this company is representing – it doesn’t seem to be the client. However, it is what it is, and we'll have to make the best of this situation and direct the driver to the places we want to see ourselves. We are, after all, a long way from home.
One of Sri Lanka’s five historical Hindu temples dedicated to Shiva is at the summit of a rocky outcrop in Trincomalee. The temple had been established as a talisman to protect the island from natural disaster. Although it’s an ancient site of worship, the current temple was built in 1952. We walk up to the summit, removing our shoes about halfway up the hill. At the summit, I can see why the Hindu people venerate this site because the view is extraordinary. I do wonder why small wooden crates are tied to the trees around the temple. I must ask someone what they represent; perhaps our driver would know. I walk down a few steps, where there is another small shrine. Across the bay, I can see fishermen in their boats, busily reaping the rewards of the sea.
The crowds are building and this popular temple is exposed to the sun. I notice that the wild spotted deer are worshipped, one is even on the hand of the huge Shiva statue at the entrance of the temple. After yesterday’s fiasco at Mihintale, I feel a completely different vibe. It’s a happy, welcoming place and since we are the only white people up here at the moment, we seem to attract the stares of young children. I love the children as they openly stare at us as their parents try to distract them. We smile and say 'Hello' to them, most of whom shyly wave or return the greeting.
The day is starting to heat up and we decide to sit in a small coconut stall to look at the view over the top of the cliff. While sipping coconut water through a straw, we enjoy the view outside, whilst at the same time, trying not to think about whether the bamboo supports will keep the rickety store upright. It does for now.
We cannot put off our return to the car any longer, and we reluctantly remove ourselves from out of our chairs and walk down to meet our driver.
Our next stop is Fort Frederick, the fortress originally built by the Portuguese in 1623, then rebuilt by the Dutch. The British took over the site in 1782. This is still a fully working Sri Lankan military base, and it’s open for visitors.
Lonely Planet describes Trincomalee as sitting on one of the world's finest natural harbours. Perhaps I had been thinking of Sydney Harbour and its accessibility when I ask the driver to take us to where we can see the ships coming and going. He drives to an isolated road, and pulls up at a sentry box, speaks to the guard, then turns to us and tells us we that this is a secure site and that we can't go there. Umm, that is not exactly what we had intended. Trincomalee's superb deep-water port has made it the target for all manner of attacks over the centuries: by the British takeover in 1795, the city had changed colonial hands seven times.
I'm glad I took some time to enjoy the seascape whilst we were at the temple. Time to move on. Since we are really not gaining much insight of Sri Lanka from our guide, I have to rely on what I read in the Lonely Planet, my daily Google research from the copious lists of questions I write in my notebook as we travel, and our tuk-tuk expeditions when it is possible to escape from the prisons... the resorts in which we are staying. Yesterday, we had taken some trips on a number of tuk-tuks. First to get a data dongle, which hopefully will give us some reliable internet access, then to another town to buy fruit from the many dilapidated stalls along the side of the road. I love to support these sellers, after all, they are trying to eke out a living, whilst competing with the other similar stalls along the road.
We continue along the coast, passing many rice paddies. There has been a lot of rain recently, so there is a lot of water in the fields on both sides of the road. Some vendor structures are inundated, whilst trees, which normally would be in the middle of fields, are now little islands. After yesterday's near drowning at the hot springs, I'm pleased to see that the sun is shining today.
By mid-afternoon, we arrive at our hotel, the Sunrise by Jetwing. This is a beautiful hotel with an open reception overlooking the swimming pool. Although our rooms to date have been good, Tom decides to inspect the room, ensuring we secure one with a balcony. It's a pity we are here for one night only. Our driver takes us into the local village, telling us it's far too dangerous for us to go alone. It's not. The villagers perhaps don't see a lot of white visitors, but we find them all very respectful and friendly.
We arrive back at our hotel just as the velvety darkness of the early Sri Lankan evening descends. The hotel's Christmas lights are spectacular against the dark night sky. Because Sri Lanka is surrounded by the Indian Ocean, our location on the island at any one time will determine whether we see a spectacular sunrise or sunset. Being on the eastern side, our sunrises are beautiful whilst our sunsets are somewhat ordinary.
I'm very conscious that we've not achieved any of the activities outlined in today's itinerary. We simply have not had the time, since we've tried to catch up on one or two sights from that we particularly wanted to see from yesterday's activities. I think that this is going to be an ongoing issue. Also, the 'short' drive described in the itinerary is 109 kilometres on a congested, narrow road, and at an average speed of 60 kms per hour. It takes over three hours to complete the journey from Trincomalee.
In other words, the planned relaxing day by the beach has evaporated...
TOUR: Across the Best Sites of Sri Lanka - Capital Lanka Tours
DISTANCE TRAVELLED: 109 kms.
ACCOMMODATION: Sunrise by Jetwing, Passikudah, 30410 (wonderful hotel, wonderful, wonderful, did I say it is wonderful?)