An Ocean Stirred by the Hand of Monsoon
“The Indian Ocean had been stirred into a magnificent fury by the violent hand of monsoon, but its relentless advances were halted each time by the steadfast rock front, which spat the remains of white foam ten metres into the air. I wondered if I would be the first person to perish should a tsunami revisit, but in truth a silent ocean is cause for greater fear.”
Green Pathways to the Beach
Take a stroll down quiet pathways surrounded by greenery, and local houses where the fluid chatter of Sinhalese can be heard streaming out. The air is always sticky with the alluring promise of a beach close by.
Perfect Blue Skies and Plenty of Sunshine
There were many days with perfect blue skies and plenty of sunshine, despite the arrival of the monsoon season and the gloom it is associated with.
Practising the Beach Bum Lifestyle
Friendly packs of mongrel dogs laze around the beach all day with eyes half closed, rising only to shake off the lapping tide from their fur.
Bright yellow signs have been printed in English and Sinhalese to warn people of the slippery rock structure. The ocean crashes constantly behind it for added emphasis.
Local Families Having Fun in the Sea
It was the eve of Vesak, an important festival in Sri Lanka, and local families had come to Unawatuna Bay to create happy memories together.
“The sea was dotted with generations of Sri Lankans, who broke into wide smiles revealing white teeth whenever the passing wave swayed them into a merry dance.”
Restaurants Along Unawatuna Bay
Many casual restaurants fringe the beach at Unawatuna, serving standard local and western fare. There are quieter options further down the beach with tables planted right in the sand, where I was happy to sit and read or write all day, with occasional dips in the ocean just a few steps away.
Restaurants Shut for the Season
Many restaurants a little further inland were shut during the off-peak season, although this sushi bar didn’t look like something I was eager to try regardless.
Many of the people here possess a relaxed vibe, and spend their days during the quiet season enjoying the company of friends.
Playing on the Village Streets
Young boys while their days away in fun and games, using whatever props and tools they can find on the village streets to entertain themselves.
“Local Food at Local Price”
All the Sri Lankans I met could speak decent English. A local man on his bicycle takes pause, as he considers the menu at Nanda Rotti Shop.
Quiet Business at Queens’ Art Café
Aruni prepares a customer’s bill at the front counter, while Mubarak stands by in assistance.
Kitchen Access at Queens’ Art Café
Aruni took me to the kitchen one day to teach me how to cook my own curry. “Doses of fish sauce and pinches of grounded spices from unlabelled jars, spills of coconut milk and chunks of chicken, fish or prawns – typical ingredients of a beautiful Sri Lankan curry.”
Aruni Preparing Dinner at Queens’ Art Café
Aruni cooking a simple but deliciously nutritious pot of dhal (lentils).
My Little Family in Unawatuna
Here are the people I spent the most time with at Queens Art Café. From the left: Mubarak – the gentle, ambling bear; Aruni Shazna – the kind, enigmatic beauty; KK – the sun whom conversations revolved around; and Mother Ari – the lovely old lady with a laughter polished by adversity.
The Lovely Pool at Thaproban Pavilion
The faux patch of beach at Thaproban Pavilion, not quite meant for swimming or gazing out to sea. The pool was sparkling clean however, and provided a calmer alternative to the rough sea.
The Room with the Best Sea View
Blue evening light pours through the large windows of my room at Thaproban Pavilion. The floors and balcony chairs are all coated with a layer of ocean stickiness, and the crashing of the waves can be heard all day and night. The spacious room costed about $100 off season, and came with a rain shower, balcony, queen-sized bed, sitting area, tv with international channels and most importantly, excellent service all round.
Woke up at 1am to the crashing of the ocean, and was treated to the sight of a comparably calmer sea gloriously touched by the silver light of the moon.
Dreamy Clouds and a Bright, Moonlit Sea
A choppy stream of silver, surrounded by ominous dark waves. The surf was crashing as usual, but was considerably calmer than the rain-incited anger of the night before.