After riding a train, hiring a moped, getting a tuk tuk and a taxi, we decided the time for a bus was here and boarded a bus to Trincomalee from Polonnaruwa.
The buses here are, in a single word, crazy. They are usually by far the fastest things on the road, constantly beeping, overtaking everything (even on bends) and everyone moves out of their way. It was terrifying, but we couldn’t help but laugh about it!! How we arrived at our destination unscathed, I’ve no idea…
We arrived in Trinco about 4 hours later and walked a short walk down to Ana Poorna Pure Vegetarian restaurant. I saw it on Happycow and thought we’d give it a try. We got there and I headed to the counter to order. After a long wait I was told there was “no food”. My face must have looked a bit sad, because the lady then said “ok… Sit down” and pointed firmly to a table. After about another 5-10 minutes, 2 big plates of rice and curry were put in front of us – one of the nicest we’ve had. There was no cutlery in the whole restaurant, so we took the plunge and ate with our hands – and we’ve not looked back since! We eat with our hands every meal now!
A short tuk tuk ride took us further north up the east coast to Nilaveli, a quiet fishing town with a stunning beach and not that many tourists. We stayed in a beach bungalow built around 3 coconut trees and it was simply stunning. We loved it here.
We spent the first afternoon chilling on the beach and then headed over to a bar further along the beach for a few drinks.
The next morning we signed up to a snorkelling trip over at Pigeon island – one of my main reasons for visiting here. The boat over to the island took about 20 min and when we arrived we were given fins and a mask. We don’t usually like going on arranged tours, but it seemed like this was the only way to get to the reef, but it turned out to be just Pete and I along with a Hawaiian girl called Steph who was really nice. We saw soooooo many sharks. I wish I had an underwater camera, it was incredible and terrifying in equal measures. At first, I was too scared to get close to the sharks, so at one point the guide grabbed my hand and literally pulled me closed to a 7ft black tipped reef shark!! Amazing!
We also saw a big turtle and lots of fish, but sadly, the reef wasn’t in great shape and a lot was dead and/or bleached.
After our tour around the reef we were then allowed to go ourselves on the opposite side of the island which was just as good for fish and turtles, but without the massive sharks. It was nice to have some freedom, but the reef was also in pretty bad shape 😔
That evening we tried to eat at a highly rated Hindu/Tamil restaurant in the area, next to the golden Hindu temple of Nilaveli, but we were turned away for unknown reasons ☹️
So instead we ate at a pretty tasty rice and curry place in the village, where the owner was very impressed by our hand-eating ability! 😂
Nilaveli was pretty, although the beach had quite a bit of oil staining and the reef was in bad shape, we were told by almost everyone else staying there that it was much nicer than beaches on the South and West coast which are getting more and more overrun by crowds.
In hindsight, it probably would have been better to stay here a little longer, maybe have gone blue whale watching etc, but I get itchy feet too easily and wanted to see the interior of the island and the hill country… So off we went…