Mind over Matara

You have to choose your swimming, or even paddling, spot carefully near the Ibis as the waves are strong, there’s quite an undertow and the area abounds with submerged rocks. Two rocky breakwaters have been built to create a partly-enclosed calmer area, though even so the tide knocks one about quite a bit. But the water is warm and the experience is very pleasant, if rather rough for actual swimming or even getting out of one’s depth.

ibis-1 ibis-2 ibis-balcony ibis-room ibis-beach-1

I opted for rice and curry for my evening meal: it comprised sweet potato (curried); brinjal – aubergine / eggplant / garden egg depending on your provenance – (curried); dhal; pol sambol (mild coconut curry sort of a thing); curried chicken; spicy onion; and rice. I may have forgotten one. Having been disappointed with my pud course yesterday – and also being full – I stopped after the main course.

I regret to say the above meant I didn’t sleep all that well – I blame the dhal – and once again I was on the go at an ungodly hour – about 4:30am – though I dozed a bit in between pages of a Peter May book.

The Ibis does a Western Breakfast and a Small Western Breakfast, the latter being the tea and “toast” which I had again this morning. This will sound a bit arrogant as I’m in Ceylon, but I do wish they’d learn how to make tea: the drink, as universally dished out here, is weak and watery. Many places – not the Ibis – serve it pre-sweetened and the UHT milk doesn’t help much. However, mustn’t grumble, and I easily polished off the contents of the teapot.

I walked back to Tangalle bus station – about 25 minutes – and counted somewhere between 40 and 50 hotels, restaurants, guest houses and the like on my way. That makes it sound like a concrete jungle, but most of these are little more than one-man-and-a-dog enterprises based in small shacks or a cluster of bungalows: it’s very low key development. I passed a ramshackle greengrocer’s place calling itself a “Fruit Stole” and various other Sringlish establishments.

As ever, it was just a case of hopping on a bus and we were off, back up the road to Matara. Up until now, I’ve always just viewed Matara as a local variation on Halbeath Junction with palm trees, but decided to have a look round this time. I’d been intrigued by a small off shore island attached to the mainland by a pedestrian suspension bridge, so that was my first port of call. I had imagined it being an up-market hotel, but for LKR100 (53p) and the temporary removal of my sandals I was allowed entrance to a Buddhist shrine. Whilst the location was attractive, other aspects of the visit were rather underwhelming, though I got a few photos.



Presumably the monks are saving up for flashing lights round Buddha’s head.




I don’t know the purpose of the cloths: vaguely reminiscent of the Clootie Well on the Black Isle.


Next I wandered along to Matara’s Fort – another Dutch / British colonial imposition. My ancient guidebook refers to “various states of dilapidation” and that seems fair. I had a cup of coffee in a trendy little area called Dutchman’s Street, all (modern) cobbles, artefacts and hanging umbrellas, then wandered round the dusty and quiet streets.The Fort area – like the one in Galle – seems to house the local courts and there are dozens of houses – in various states of collapse – apparently owned by lawyers.


I think this place has just opened. I can’t imagine those umbrellas lasting long in a downpour.


It’s a shame to see these buildings derelict and collapsing.


Once the home of an Attorney-at-Law, now just a ruin…

I would have stayed a bit longer, but big fat lazy raindrops started to fall, possibly presaging something more dramatic, so I returned to the bus station. The second leg of the journey went smoothly, although the bus was packed for much of the time.

Back now at Sera’s, I intend having a quiet time until beddie-byes.


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