I had mixed feelings about Trincomalee or “Trinco” when I first arrived, but by the end of our three days there I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave.
Our first afternoon saw us check in to our wonderful guesthouse. Now Anita and I seriously aren’t fussy. We’ll sleep anywhere really. We’ve stayed in many not-so-flash hostels and guesthouses during our travels so I’m certainly not complaining here but I just thought this place deserved an honourable mention.
No internet between 8am-12am, one power socket between us and no mirror in the communal bathroom was just the start. We had regular power outages, no air-con (which is standard in budget Sri Lankan accomodation) but no flyscreens or mosquito net either so your options were to cook or act as a pin cushion for malaria-carrying mosquitos. There was no door handle and the door was only lockable with a small, padlocked latch from the outside. The bed was a metal frame with flattened cardboard boxes under the paper thin matress to stop it falling through; it was like sleeping on a sponge covered ladder. The grimey ant-infested shared bathroom had a shower pipe (i.e. no head) and no hot water but the water was always warm, so no refreshingly cool showers either. In all fairness though, they did give us a complimentary coathanger on the screw sticking out of the wall and I didn’t see any rats, so that must earn them at least half a star, right? Despite all of the above, our hosts were incredibly kind and caring and after only one or two nights, it started to feel like home.
Following check-in, we took a short walk through some alleyways to Dutch Bay, or Trincomalee Beach as it’s known by the locals. Despite the rubbish, a sad reality of a lot of the beaches we’ve visited, this place was beautiful. Clear, calm water, colourful fishing boats lining the sand bank, and just enough rocks for some snorkelling. It was so peaceful there. We spent most of our time at a nice secluded area down the south side and after a dip or two, ventured into town to explore.
Like most towns we’ve visited in Sri Lanka there was an abundance of stray dogs. Most of these dogs look disease-ridden but we were told that putting them down is against many Sri Lankan’s religion so they’re left to just roam the streets. It’s sad really. There are also quite a few wild deer roaming the streets which seemed very odd at first but they were apparently brought over by the Europeans. After walking street after street of pastel buildings, second-hand jewellers and vegetarian restaurants, we grabbed a quick bite and headed back to our room.
The next morning we walked to Fort Frederick, an old Portugese-built fort completed in 1624. It still has a strong military presence but the public are free to roam the grounds. It’s actually quite nice there; plenty of trees, white picket fencing and thankfully rubbish-free. Following the road all the way to the tip of the peninsula takes you to a Hindu temple which looks out across the ocean. We ventured off the path for a sneak preview of the view before reaching the temple but a soldier with a large gun signaled for us to turn around. We complied.
Once we finally reached the temple, Anita, as usual, was asked to cover up, but this time bottom and top. She looked like a monk! It’s funny, I walked through in shorts and a singlet but Anita was the only one who was asked to cover up.
Following Fort Fredrick, we foolishly decided to walk the 4km in sweltering heat to Uppuveli Beach, one of Trinco’s most famous beaches. When we finally arrived we were actually quite let down. The beach was covered in rubbish and the water didn’t look very clean, so after a half hour we took off. We learnt later that we weren’t in the popular, more tourist-friendly section of the beach, but that’s not neccesarily what we were after anyway.
On our last day, we decided to head further north to another of Trinco’s famous beaches, Nilaveli. After the 45 minute bus ride we finally arrived, walked the long dirt road to.. another less than impressive beach. It was nice, but I think we just had higher expectations. There were speed boats coming and going, using the beach as a ramp to Pigeon Island, a popular snorkelling spot. It just didn’t have the best vibe. We stayed for a short while before again heading back to Dutch Bay for the afternoon.
On our last night we stumbled on an ice creamery called Oriyoe, and boy were we glad we did. Fresh juices, milkshakes and my favourite, sundaes, with nothing over 2AUD! No wonder it was packed with locals. Anita ordered a modest sundae while I ordered the “mega sundae”, right before drifting off into ecstasy.
When we arrived back at our guesthouse, Annie and Poida, some friends of ours from Australia were on the doorstep! We had organised to meet them in Trinco as they were travelling through Sri Lanka at the same time. We had a quick catch up, then organised to meet them at the beach the following morning for one last swim before taking off.
We really liked Trinco. Sure, their most popular beaches weren’t really what we expected, but we had enough relax time at Dutch Bay for it not to bother us. Oh, and if ever you visit, make sure to drop by Oriyoe for the “mega sundae”. Next stop, Batticaloa!