Sri Lanka 2014 – Day 4 (Scuba Diving by Hikkaduwa)

Tue, Apr 22, 2014

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Diving Sri Lanka

Scotch Diving in Sri Lanka


The thunderstorm the night before was soothing to sleep through but of course with my luck had to occur right before my scuba diving day. Storms usually means decreased visibility underwater due to the bottom sand being stirred up from the rough surf.

From our hotel in Balapitiya, it was a 30-minute drive to the dive shop in Hikkaduwa. The drive along the coast was beautiful but my thoughts were often drawn back to the images of devastation from the 2004 tsunami that I saw through the news and through the relief agency I worked with at the time.

Our driver would point out to us the tsunami memorials along the way. On the tip of my tongue many times, but I was too timid to ask for fear that it would elicit further sadness, was the question of if my driver had lost any loved ones in the disaster.

The country seems to have recovered as the main roads were rebuilt, trains were running, new vegetation has taken over the landscape. And time has proven that Sri Lankans are resilient. But there will always be an underlying sadness to the beauty of the land and strength of the people.

Sri Lanka - Barracuda Diving Center

Dive Center in Hikkaduwa

April marks the end of the diving season on East coast of Sri Lanka. Diving has started to move over to the West coast.

The dive operator we dove with, Barracuda Diving Center, was getting ready to move their operations to Trincomalee.

school of triggerfish

School of (Indian?) Triggerfish

Scotch and I did two dives each with Barracuda (the cost per dive per person was $30).

Our first dive was called Kirala Gala which had large schools of fish but not much coral. There was one other diver on the boat plus our dive master making it four of us in the group.


School of Surgeonfish

The water temperature was a nice and warm 82°F (28°) and I felt comfortable in my 3 mil full wetsuit.

Visibility on this first dive was about 25 feet. What made this dive was the large schools of fish all around us: surgeonfish, triggerfish, fusiliers (gold-band), and others I couldn’t identify.

We also saw a few large trevally (probably the blue trevally).

pufferfish sri lanka


After our first dive, we went back to shore and the dive center for the surface interval and to pick up a few more divers.

Our second dive was at a site called Cave. Scotch and I buddied up again with our dive master from the first dive.

There was a short swim-through on this dive and not much else. Visibility had dropped to about 20 feet and there was a lot of particulate matter in the water which not only made for poor viz but also poor photos. We briefly lost sight of our dive master when engrossed in photographing a free-swimming scorpion fish.

Not much fish nor coral life combined with a strong current and other issues (my mask was too tight which gave me a pounding headache) made this a rather unpleasant and boring dive. Shame.

"Dory" Surgeonfish

“Dory” Surgeonfish

For dinner that night, we ventured out to a restaurant at a nearby sister property of our hotel because we needed a change of menu options. The property was located inland by a lake and the restaurant was al fresco.

We didn’t stay very long before asking for our check. I’m sure the view of the lake and surrounding areas during daylight hours would have been stunning but it was pitch black for us and full of mosquitoes out for blood. And the peace and quiet of the night was broken by the sound of Little Ginger crying herself to sleep. Totally unrelaxing.

For Sri Lanka – Day 6 – we head south to Galle for a day trip. Hoping that will be a more pleasant experience.

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Sri Lanka 2014 – Day 3 (Pool Day)

Tue, Apr 8, 2014

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Sri Lanka beach Today we woke up to yet another picture perfect morning.

Scotch and I had originally planned on heading out to Old Galle for a day trip and check out the fort which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Sri Lanka beach

But Wee Scorch threw one tantrum after another practically from the moment he woke up so we decided to just chill at the hotel beach and the pool to preserve what was left of our patience and sanity.

Sri Lanka beach

The hotel pool is outdoors but mostly covered which was ideal for the kids and me because I didn’t have to worry about us being slathered in sun cream.

Sri Lanka beach

My son could spend all day in the pool if allowed. His swimming improved a great deal this week since we spent practically every day in the pool. He started to tread water, attempted underwater somersaults (forwards and backwards), and is much better now at lifting his head up for air.

Sri Lanka pool

He insisted on using my snorkel and got the hang if using it really quickly.

Sri Lanka pool

My snorkel mask was too big for him so we attached the snorkel to his little goggles.

Wee Scotch made new friends (also from Dubai) and they each took turns taking photos with my underwater camera. Very talented budding photographers:

Sri Lanka pool

We fell asleep that night to the soothing sounds (for me at least) of heavy rain and thunder.


Sri Lanka – Day 2 (Turtle Hatchery and Spice Garden)

Mon, Apr 7, 2014

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Today we woke up to an idyllic, clear and blue Sri Lankan sky. The stuff of postcards. A total surprise because the weather forecast was supposed to be 60% chance of rain all week.

We started the day with breakfast at our hotel which was satisfying and delicious – it was an “English breakfast” (eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, grilled tomato) – but disappointing as I wanted the Sri Lankan breakfast of red string hoppers and curry but that option was not available.

Could it be because we are the only guests in the hotel? Very odd that there are no other guests since I had a hard time booking a hotel room because all of the nicer hotels on the South West coast were full.

After breakfast, we were picked up by our driver in a van to transport us to the Turtle Hatchery. We took Little Ginger’s stroller with us onto the van but never ended up using it because the gravelly paths at the turtle hatchery and spice garden weren’t conducive to a stroller so she ended up in her baby carrier.

Sri Lanka Turtle Hatchery

The hatchery pays 20 Sri Lankan rupees to fishermen for each turtle egg that is brought to them. They then bury them in the sand and when the eggs hatch, the male turtles are released into the sea after 3 days.

Sri Lanka Turtle Hatchery

Because only 2% of turtles that are born are female, they keep the females for 5 years before releasing them to increase their rate of survival in the wild.

Sri Lanka Turtle Hatchery

Wee Scotch had a fantastic time at the hatchery. He enjoyed being able to hold and pet the baby turtles. He wanted to do it over and over and over again.

And he couldn’t understand why we couldn’t help the albino turtle by “painting” it green:

Sri Lanka Turtle Hatchery

Little Ginger slept through the whole experience in her baby carrier:

Sri Lanka Turtle Hatchery

Next we went to a Spice Garden where it was interesting to see the plant origins of many common spices like vanilla, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper. They weren’t too pushy about selling products made from their spice garden and Scotch ended up buying a small bottle of cinnamon oil.

Sri Lanka Spice Garden

We had lunch at Aida – a jeweler, guesthouse, and restaurant overlooking a beautiful lake. We picked out 2 fresh fish and 2 large crabs that were obtained this morning – not sure if that meant they were caught this morning or that they were purchased from the market this morning.

Sri Lanka - Lunch at Aida

The fish were made into a grilled dish and a coconut fish curry which were both okay (too boney) but the chilli crab dish was just amazingly flavorful.

Sri Lanka - Lunch at Aida

Sri Lanka - Lunch at Aida

Unfortunately, when I left the table to take Wee Scotch to the bathroom, the waiter cleared away my unfinished chilli crab platter probably thinking I had finished.

Sri Lanka - Lunch at Aida

Even though all that was left was the sauce, I was looking forward to spooning all that garlicky spicy red goodness onto my plate of white rice to further enjoy its flavors.

We had dinner back at our hotel. The food tonight was unfortunately underwhelming but the waiter did promise that red string hoppers would be available for breakfast the next morning. Yay!


Sri Lanka – Day 1

Sun, Apr 6, 2014

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Sri Lanka sunset We have just arrived in beautiful Sri Lanka today* for a week’s holiday during Wee Scotch’s school break.

In our 6+ years traveling from Dubai, I have never seen such long lines at the Dubai airport. The passport control lines were just heaving with people. Upon arrival at Colombo, we disembarked via stairs down to the tarmac then bus to the terminal. Challenging with carrying an infant, her car seat, and carryon bags plus a drowsy Wee Scotch who wouldn’t walk and wanted to be carried too. After battling more queues at Colombo immigration, we finally embarked on the two-hour drive to our resort in the town of Balapitiya, which we will call home-base for the next 5 days.

We are so looking forward to exploring the island and enjoying the local food.


*I am going to try an experiment. I am going to blog on the fly while on vacation instead of waiting until I get home. Because by the time I get home, I never seem to find the time nor motivation (I still haven’t finished my China posts from last May/June nor written up my India trip from 2011 – shame).

And because I didn’t bring my laptop on this trip, photos will be published with minimal post-processing via my iPhone.


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