What the bible doesn’t tell you is that Monday morning God woke up with a mission – that was to give humans an idea of just what heaven would be like. He worked tirelessly for the following week and when he had finished he unveiled an island, just off the South Coast of India; Filled with stunning scenery, mountains, vast plains, huge cliffs, waterfalls, spectacular flora and wildlife, stunning beaches and the perfect climate; A place that would draw people from every corner of the globe keen to experience such a magical place. And a place that would remain in the hearts of those that tasted that heaven for the rest of their lives.
He named this place Sri Lanka.
Most people that head to Sri Lanka are looking for a slice of paradise, those that would rather have paradise with a cherry on the top come to Unawatuna.
Perched on the South coast a few kilometres South of Galle, Unawatuna has firmly established itself as the islands main beach destination for backpackers. It has the backpacker vibe, laundry shops, craft shops, clothes shops, the smell of weed in the air and the sonic pleasures of Bob Marley. Wrap all this into a single tracked road, throw in a few coconut trees, banana trees, a perfect golden arc of sand, some turquoise waters, a sprinkle of tranquillity and a spoon full of serenity and you have the small, yet visually stunning beach town of Unawatuna.
There are many places to stay and we found ourselves a nice little boutique style place just away from the beach. The usual rules apply, the farther from the beach you are, the cheaper you can expect your room to be.
There isn’t really a great deal to do in this part of the island, but that is the whole point.
We did head into Galle which is about 15 minutes on the bus, we visited the fort and generally got a taste for the Southern life whilst admiring the views.
Then we headed to a turtle hatchery. Turtles are gravely endangered and already certain species have become extinct with many other species are earmarked for almost certain extinction. Sri Lanka is one of the places where there are turtles and one of the prime breeding grounds. They are prevalent all along the South coast. Still, man has to get involved and so there were a few turtles swimming about, species they were trying to breed and then some eggs hatching. Once hatched the turtles are let go into the sea. Entrance was a ‘donation’ of 400 Rupees. Whilst the guy was explaining about this particular species I heard this high pitched scream. Instantly I knew it was Charlie, I looked and he was holding his hand, blood was seeping through his fingers and he was crying. He had decided to see whether turtles bit by sticking his finger in one of their mouths – They do.
Then it was beach time. We spent the whole afternoon doing nothing. We got wiped out by the waves, swam in the warm sea, played in the sand, got sunburned and it was almost Charlie’s last day on earth.
We decided to walk down to the Peace Pagoda at one end of the small bay. Between us and there was a bunch of rocks, the sea looked tame and so we set off. Walking along the water’s edge we knew life was good. It felt good, looked amazing an it was difficult to think we were anywhere other than paradise. I held Abi’s hand and waited for the tide to retreat, once it had we set off around the rocks. It came much quicker than I had anticipated and we were smashed against the rocks by a huge wave. I kept hold of Abi and looked frantically for Charlie. I couldn’t see him and so threw Abi onto the rocks above the sea line and spun around to find Charlie. I saw him being carried by a wave toward me but I couldn’t grab him and so he smashed against the rocks like a rag doll, completely unable to control himself. I managed to grab him and pull him from the wave. We managed to get out of the water and onto the road. Charlie was crying and holding his face. When the water had caught him, it had smashed his face against the rocks. He has a cut along the bottom and the top of his eye. The cuts aren’t deep but it has bruised his face.
Once we got ourselves together and admitted the absolute epic fail we had just encountered we continued our journey to the Peace Pagoda. The following conversation ensued:
Charlie “What can I say to my mates”
Me “what you on about”
“Well, I can’t say a wave smashed me against some rocks can I”
“Eh? Why not”
“Because its gay”
“Don’t be daft Charlie”
“Can I say I escaped a shark attack” – I looked at him wondering what the heck he was talking about.
“Will I have a scar dad” he retorted.
“No Charlie, probably not” I answered.
“awww, gutted” he said
“what are you talking about Charlie”
“Scar’s make you look hard dad”
…I blame the schools.
Once at the Peace Pagoda a guy was stood there and tried charging me 100rupees. I simply said no and carried on walking. It was a blatant scam. It was actually not as impressive as the one we had seen in Nepal, but subtly beautiful all the same.
By now it was evening and we ended at an Italian guys house for a ‘bruschetta party’ Basically it was a load of people all sat around a huge table eating Italian cuisine and drinking white wine – How I have missed white wine!
Eventually we all started drinking something out of a fresh coconut and the remainder is a blur.
Generally Thailand is the best place to head for beaches. Some of my favourite beaches in the world are in Thailand and really few countries can contend. Unawatuna is a contender, the perfect turquoise seas, the soft golden sand, the coconut trees. I tried to convince myself not to turn my back on some of the stunning beaches in Thailand I had fallen in love with, and there are many. But I had to admit defeat, then I considered the beaches in la Isla Majures in Mexico and wondered if it was that good. I thought of the best Florida and the Keys have to offer, I thought of Vietnam and Bali and realised something – Unawatuna might just be the most perfect, beautiful beach in the world.
And so it was that on the 8th day the Lord started work on heaven on earth, a place so amazing people would flock from every corner of the world to experience the perfection, tranquilly and serenity it offered. When he finished he rubbed his hands in satisfaction, sat back and smiled.
Sri Lanka was born.