Off to Mirissa
04.10.2017 - 04.10.2017 91 °F
10 April 2017
It's time to leave our little resort...but we'll be back. We'll be spending our last night in Sri Lanka here on the 28th.
Our train doesn't leave until 235pm so we don't have to rush off. We savor our last waffle and ice cream breakfast treat and finish packing. Down to one backpack and one day pack. Traveling by train that will definitely make things easier.
As far as transportation, it's a repeat of our trip to Colombo. Tuk Tuk to bus station, bus to Colombo. We're dropped off at a different bus station - no, I don't know why - so it's a tuk tuk to the train station. The monitor on the bus told us to pay "no more than 100Rp" - which is exactly what we paid. Arriving at the train station - we're early. Its a holiday- Poya - which is the Buddhist Full Moon Holiday (this occurs every month on the full moon) - so the traffic was very light. We grabbed some water and snacks, buy our tickets (230Rp per person) and head into the station to see if we can find a place to sit. We're leaving from platform 5, the seats in that area are full but those people are waiting for the train that will arrive shortly. It's a good time for people watching.
The 1pm train comes and goes leaving plenty of seats. We settle in, watch the different trains, all which seem to be about 50 years old and an assortment of people, young and old with a smattering of western tourists.
A weathered gentleman sits next to Brenda and they start up a conversation. His name is Iman and he is working for the Chinese company building the new Chinatown project. We come to find out that Iman's wife teaches English so his skills are fairly good. Each day, coming from Hikkaduwa, he rides the Express Bus for 2 hours into Colombo in the morning and takes the train home (3 1/2 hours) each evening. Brenda and Iman share family stories and pictures. We find out that today he had received a termination notice from the company. Come May 1st, the whole project shuts down due to monsoon season. It will reopen in the September but Iman doesn't know if he'll have a job.
A few minutes before our train was due to arrive, Iman makes sure that we are in the right place on the platform to get on and get towards an open door way. There won't be a place to sit for at least an hour - maybe two. At least, we'll have a breeze. The train jerks and sputters and we're on our way. Along the way, Jim notices a young chinese couple and thinks they look like one of our students from HUST which begins a long conversation with them. (Unfortunately, I didn't get their names but they have one of our business cards - maybe we'll hear from them). They are early 30's and traveling to experience the world. She had just finished seven years working on Germany. Amazingly, we come to find out - Iman speaks German. I think there is more to Iman than meets the eye.
One can get a little jaded when traveling and sometimes people will help you and then ask for money. Iman did not - he actually wanted us to come to his home for a meal. As his stop approached, he wished us well, never asking for anything other than good wishes. Brenda did make sure that she extended a small token of our thanks. Not requested but from his smile she could tell it was appreciated.
The route this train takes is right along the coast of Sri Lanka that was struck by the tsunami in 2004. Along the southern and eastern coasts more than 30K people lost their lives. Sri Lankans have been rebuilding over the past 13 years. It has been difficult but they have incredible resilience. It is a bit eerie to know that we are traveling the same tracks that were decimated and so many lives lost. (more info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effect of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake on Sri Lanka
The train terminated in Matara which was our stop. By the time we got there the train was virtually empty. We knew that we would need to get a tuk tuk and Sujani (from Mirissa Harbour View - our guesthouse in Mirissa) had emailed me and let me know that we should pay no more than 500Rp. We were approached by a driver who asked for 800 and we settled on 500Rp but we added a little holiday tip when he dropped us off. FYI- this is Sinhalese New Years Week Holiday.
Our driver had to stop and ask a couple other tuk tuk drivers for directions to our guest house. FInally arriving,Sujani, her Mom and two daughters were at the gate to meet us with huge, warm smiles. After being shown to our rooms and after not eating other than crackers since the morning - we were hungry. Sunjani drove us up the road to the Surf View - very cute restaurant right on the beach. Just what we needed after a long day. The dinner special was Seafood Platter - one whole fish, one crab, grilled shrimp, grilled squid, french fries and salad - all for 2000Rp (about $13) - Brenda and I shared one and it was plenty - Jim, or course, had his own.
The walk back took about 15 minutes, enough to stretch, digest our wonderful dinner ...now we were ready for bed.