Hikkaduwa is a small tourist city but the surrounding areas are categorized as “Hikkaduwa” for the sake of this post. I went everywhere and the cities are so close and all sound similar – it made remembering each place difficult.
This is part six in a series of posts about my trip to Sri Lanka.
My punctual friend Sampath waited for me in the lobby to embark on our adventurous day. I didn’t feel like I was being driven around by a personal driver. I honestly felt like I was spending the day adventuring Sri Lanka with a friend. We bonded immediately and had great conversation.
Quick background on Sampath: He is 33 years old and about 7 inches shorter than I am. He was born and raised in Hikkaduwa and loves his job as a tuktuk driver. He lives at home with his father. He has one brother but lost him to a horrible accident. Same with his mother, but different accidents. He is very passionate about showing Hikkaduwa to tourists because he knows the area better than anyone. Which I can confirm. Not only does he know the area well, everyone knows him! Anywhere we went people were waving to him, saying hello, or offering him some kind of fruit. I should’ve been driving this celebrity! He was waiting in his normal spot for the day when the first wave in the 2004 tsunami hit. He immediately drove home which was further inland to see his father. I asked if he knew it was a tsunami and he said he didn’t even know what a tsunami was. My heart broke for him and the rest of Sri Lanka when he continued to tell me about the day. There wasn’t any kind of warning and more Sri Lankan’s had never heard of such a disaster. He is thankful for his life every day and is the most positive person I’ve ever met to have gone through so much at such a young age.
Our first stop was the huge statue that was donated by Japan after the tsunami. It’s beautiful and such an important part of the culture and life in Hikkaduwa.
Next stop was The Moonstone Mine. I had never heard about moonstones but after the tour, I had to leave with my very own moonstone ring. There is only one place in the entire world where you can find moonstones and it happens to be in the Hikkaduwa area on a small plot of land. They dig deep deep holes and men climb down and pull out all kinds of gems. It was fascinating! Sampath did the entire tour with me and then sat patiently while I did some shopping.
The Moonstone Mine was on the way to the “Blue Lagoon” tour. The Blue Lagoon tour was about 2 hours long. This lagoon is definitely not blue and it’s questionable how fish survive here, but it had it’s own kind of beauty. We had our own private tour boat (because Sampath is the man!) and I sat on the bow the entire time. Don’t worry, sunscreen was onboard.
We stopped to see a man do tricks with a crab he caught, I held an alligator, oh…and… I had a foot massage. Not any kind of foot massage, though! I had a fish foot massage. These are very popular in Southeast Asia, but these fish didn’t suck on your feet, they bit them. There were different sizes of fish ranging from 1inch, 4 inches, to 2 feet. I’m not kidding. I laughed, screamed, cried, and was done. Mooooooving on!
We stopped at an island temple and Sampath taught me all about the different parts of the temple. I wasn’t dressed appropriately for the occasion so I wore sheets over my clothes. I received a blessing from the monk and made a donation to keep the temple running properly.
There is an additional stop at a cinnamon field where you can practice grinding cinnamon but I am a firm believer that I’m allergic to cinnamon (unless it’s in a cinnamon roll). I always get horrible headaches when I smell cinnamon. Debilitating headaches where I can’t open my eyes. I opted out of this stop.
After the “Blue Lagoon” we went to the other sea turtle hatchery. It was a little bit bigger than the first one, but same exact thing. If you want to see an albino turtle, this is the place to go! Out of 2 million eggs hatched here, this is the only albino turtle.
Next, we went to a local fruit stand and had amazing pineapple. He let me pick out the pineapple I wanted and then bought it for me. Small gestures go a long way.
Lastly, we stopped at the Tsunami Picture Memorial. I can barely write this without tearing up. The stories of loved ones missing and being found, or the families who are still searching for their children were so powerful. This makeshift museum is right on the beach and across the street from the memorial. Every year on December 26th, there’s a memorial service and remembrance ceremony for the people who lost their lives. I do not have any pictures of the museum because I could barely focus my eyes through the tears. Sampath is a survivor of the tsunami and was comforting me while we were reading different articles and personal stories. His strength is very admirable. I donated A LOT to this museum. I want it to grow and have a proper facility. I want the people of Sri Lanka to have the proper education about natural disasters like a tsunami. They are such beautiful people and their safety and physical/mental/emotional health from such a tragedy were all I thought about the rest of my time and even to this day.
It was now 4pm and the clouds were rolling in. Sampath planned for us to see the famous fort in Galle, just south of Hikkaduwa, but didn’t want to be caught in a storm. So I went back to my hotel, put on my bathing suit, and swam in the rain. Swimming in the rain brings back amazing memories from my time living in Washington. My mom and I used to go to the community pool and swim when it started to drizzle and then eventually a downpour. We were the only ones in the pool and the lifeguards were less than enthused. I floated for about 45 minutes counting my blessings. Life is fragile and anything can happen. I am very fortunate to live the life I do. I’m able to travel the world with the unconditional love and support from my family and boyfriend. I’ll never go a day without telling them how much they mean to me because even the most normal day can turn into something you least expect.
I ate dinner in my hotel’s restaurant and went to bed listening to the rain and thunder. My last day in Sri Lanka was the next day. Sampath and I were planning the Galle fort and the jungle beach before I would make my way to the airport for another red-eye flight.