We have been a little disappointed with some of the beaches in Sri Lanka. They’re highly polluted and Kallady Beach in Batticaloa was no exception. Even though we were walking distance from it, one visit was more than enough. It really made me appreciate and miss the amazing beaches we have back home; so clean and well looked after.
Another thing I’ve missed dearly is fresh fruit and vegetables! Sri Lankan cuisine is delicious but mainly consists of curry and rice, rotti, kothu rotti or string hoppers (rotti or noodle stir-fry) and deep-fried rotti or samosas. You can eat western food however it’s pretty expensive and nine times out of ten, the quality and portion size just isn’t worth the money. In Batticaloa I’d reached my breaking point. I couldn’t eat another curry or fried veggie roll. I had to find something fresh.
Now Batticaloa’s local sights aren’t that exciting. There’s the old clock tower, bridge and bus station, but we found that there was also a local fruit and veg market a short walk from where we were staying. Funnily enough, we managed to walk past all of the aforementioned sights on the way there.
I had never been so excited to see fresh fruit and vegetables. I picked up 250g of green beans and a bunch of bananas for less than a dollar – bargain!
Our next stop was the beach. There are two main beaches in Batticaloa – Passikudah and Kalkudah. For some reason, everyone flocks to Passikudah. The beach is surrounded by fancy resorts, deserted buildings (from the 2004 tsunami) and street vendors selling food and tacky souvenirs. The water is also very shallow which appeals to both tourists and locals.
What many people don’t know is that the neighbouring beach is the complete opposite. White, unpolluted sand, crystal clear water and virtually no one on the beach. Kalkudah Bay is Sri Lanka’s best kept secret and my favourite beach since arriving on the east coast. We also enjoyed watching a film shoot taking place at the only small luxury hotel on the beach.
We were told that there were no afternoon buses back to Batticaloa so for some reason we we decided to walk 2kms to the train station during the hottest part of the afternoon. It was so hot I could feel my thongs melting under my feet. Dripping in sweat and relieved that we finally made it, we walked up to the isolated train station and asked a man when the next train to Batticaloa was. He did not speak a word of English, so through charades we were able to work out that there were no more trains for the rest of the afternoon. Great! We were actually stuck in the middle of nowhere and desperately thinking of what we could do.
Suddenly, a man driving a classy mini-van pulled over and asked if we needed help. We explained our situation and he kindly offered to drop us to Batticaloa as he was on his way to Arugam Bay. Being tourists, we know that nothing is free in Sri Lanka. We were able to negotiate a very reasonable price and off we went. I guess this kind of counts as our first hitch-hiking experience? Let me tell you, it was one of the best transfers we’ve experienced since being in Sri Lanka. There was air conditioning and we didn’t have to stop every two minutes to pick up more passengers – amazing!
By the time we got back to our homestay we were exhausted and spent the rest of the day relaxing and planning which beach town to go to next. Tough life, right?!