After enjoying the tea hills of Sri Lanka, Nick, Dan and I headed south towards the coast. We spent a few days enjoying the prestigious beaches in Mirissa. Although touristed, the sun, sand and breeze were magnificent. The ocean was especially lovely in the morning when there were less people. I found myself hypnotized watching the clear turquoise waves form as tan sand overtook the blue color, then curling and eventually crashing into white froth.
We spent a day exploring nearby, Galle, pronounced, ‘Gawl’. This was a historic fort built by the Dutch in 1663 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The colonial buildings gave it a similar feel to Hoi An, Vietnam, however less developed and still had a thriving local community. The 36 hectare fort was surrounded by ocean on 3 sides. We walked along the colonial bastion observing old light houses, churches, and mosques. On our way back to Mirissa, we passed a cricket stadium and watched fishermen floating above the waves on wooden stilts.
On our last full day, we went whale watching. We joined 20 other foreigners on a double decker boat. As we watched the dark horizon, we saw white towers of water shoot up from the surface (up to 30 feet tall). Finally we spotted our first whale which glided to the surface 50 feet from our boat. In total, we saw about 4-5 blue whales over a dozen of times. We watched as they shot water, slowly moved their bodies, then flip up their tale and dove 1,000 feet, eating krill and shrimp. On average, blue whales are 109 ft long, weigh 180 tonnes, and live 80-90 years. They are the largest living mammals in the world and larger than any historic dinosaur. Did you know that when whaling ended in the 1970s only 5,000 whales or 1% of the population just 200 years before were left? There’s a LonelyPlanet guidebook fact for you!
Before heading back to India, we spent some time exploring the capital, Colombo. Our favorite activity was wondering around the Pettah Markets. The people were friendly and the colorful fruits and vegetables filled the market.