Sri Lanka 6: Pigeon Island

I’m still alive.  Only, I’m very badly burned.

Not entirely related to the trip today, but an accurate fact.  My chest and shoulders are red.  Red, red, RED!  However, it was worth if for the snorkeling.

First, a word on the Coconut Beach Lodge curry from last night – FANTASTIC!  However, Daina and I have come to a conclusion that, in Trincomalee at least, the people in the Sri Lankan service industry have a hard time multitasking.

For instance, when we got to the beach for our curry, we were asked by five different servers if we were there for curry, and asked to confirm our previous order three times, and had our drink order taken twice.  It was worth it for some of the most amazing curry I’ve ever had, and the beach ambiance, but wow…. multitasking.

Now, that carried into today as well.  About three different people asking me if I had a lifejacket, me saying no before they figured out I needed one for the boat ride over to Pigeon Island.  Then, once we got there, a flurry of activity between the guides as they tried to figure out who was going where, who needed to keep bags where, where your sandals should go and who should and shouldn’t wear them…  Bit of a mess.

HOWEVER, just like the curry, it all paid off in the end.

Pigeon Island is a marine national park 1km off the coast of Nilaveli, about a half-hour boat ride from the beach at Uppuveli.  It’s known for its coral, and it’s also, unfortunately, known for having a lot of that corral being stomped on by tourists who aren’t told ahead of time to watch out for the corral and not stomp on it.  Daina was one of those tourists today.  I guess in the rush to get everybody doing something with somebody somewhere, basic nature safety was left out.

Still, the underwater beauty was amazing!  We saw about five black-tipped reef sharks, a sea turtle, parrotfish, angelfish, boxfish, a baby moray eel, a barracuda and schools of all types of fish.  Plus, right at the end, a clownfish and a sea anemone.  Really amazing snorkeling.

If you’re going to do it, though, be warned – it’s a pretty long swim (felt like an hour) and it’s a bit tough to find an “extraction point” at times.  That, plus the “don’t walk all over the corral” stuff isn’t really communicated by anybody, so I’m doing the job for you.  You’re welcome.

We made it back to Uppuveli around 1 pm, where we went to Fernando’s for all-day breakfast and drinks.  Daina “made friends” with a Japanese tourist who drunkenly approached him and said “You are cool!” before getting selfie that only slightly invaded D’s personal space.  I’m giving it two weeks before he’s big in Japan.

After eating, we wandered up the beach to check out a small Hindu temple we saw from the water.

Pretty magical walk, as we had to wade across a small channel, going past what looked like an old naval bunker and walking up a hill with small shrines placed alongside it.  The temple itself looks like it’s lived at the beach a while – lots of faded paint and colours – but it was neat to see the different carvings, and to watch a couple of (I’m assuming) sacred cows wandering around the temple, nibbling on the grass they could find.

We had planned on going back into the water after we were done at the temple, but at that point, the sun was hitting me real hard and I needed to get someplace with air-con and a fan.  Crashed at about 3:30 and, after various stages of being awake and asleep, woke up at 8:30 to go to dinner.  We hit the Silver Beach restaurant and had some seafood, some o.k. calamari and some delicious-but-hard-to-eat crab.  The shell crackers you use at home haven’t made it here yet, so it was a lot of prying with knives and forks, using fingers, and sucking meat out of shells.  Tasty, though.

Not so tasty (for us, anyway) was coming back to the guest house and finding a cockroach french-kissing Daina’s toothbrush.  So, adding to the list for tomorrow, we’re going in to Trincomalee to see a temple, a fort, shop a bit, hit an ATM, and find a new toothbrush.

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