I didn’t mention it before, but Hellabeem is located close to Weligama and Ahangama. While I was there I went to Weligama a few times. Once was on a bicycle, to do some shopping, go to an internet cafe for some fast internet, and just to get a feel for the area. I went on to Mirissa, hoping to find a hostel where I could rent a locker to put my bag, and take a dive in the ocean there. No such luck, so I just took a picture. Not a big deal, I had done plenty of swimming in Kosgoda, and also in jungle beach, Unawatuna. I went back from Mirissa, but after Weligama I got a flat tire and I had to walk. I ran into some locals with a bicycle shop who fixed my tire for free, which was cool. That’s not something I’m used to in Sri Lanka. Often people will offer you something, or explain things to you about something you don’t really care about and (try) to charge you for it afterwards.
Unfortunately 500 meters further down the road I had another flat tire, so I resorted to walking again. I got lost, met some person walking down the same direction as I was going, and as it turned out, he had been a sailor and traveled to a lot of countries and cities, some of which I knew about, which was cool. It also turned out he was a martial artist, with his main styles being shotokan and kyokushin karate. He knew a lot about bodhi darma and the history of various martial art styles, like some of the footwork from kung fu, and some of the history of the 5 main karate styles. I had planned to go see him and train with him for a few days, but unfortunately, the tea-nursery came first, and I needed to put the remaining time I had at Hellabeem in that. Anyway, after a long walk and getting lost a little more (the addresses around here are more “regions” instead of actual addresses) We both took a tuk tuk, loaded the bicycle and after the tuk tuk driver asked some people down the road, we found Hellabeem again.
The next weekend I went to Tissamaharame, to go and see Yala national park. I had booked an overpriced guest house, but met some people on the bus who also knew a place to stay. That place didn’t turn out to be what it was, so I left with the intention to go to my original place. But a few houses down the road there was another guest house with some friendly people, nicer rooms, and better prices, for both the room and the tour through Yala national park.
The mihisara guest house.
A word of warning though: In Sri Lanka you always spend more, there are dozens of hidden costs that keep adding up. And in the end they also add a service charge. If they ask if you want something like tea, or give you a bottled water, they will probably (over)charge you for it. The room was 700 rupees, which was quite fair. The breakfast and dinner was about 800 rupees. The tour was 4000 rupees, which is what I’ve been told at Weligama is a fair price, but on top of that you also have to get a ticket at Yala’s entrance, which is something like 1756 rupees, plus 987 rupees service charge, plus 2 different kind of taxes and you end up with another 3310 rupees. These kind of things happen a LOT. A weekend of sightseeing and staying in a hostel will easily cost you about 10.000 rupees. Not exactly cheap.
Aside from the surprise about the cost, the hostel was quite nice. Friendly people, nice room, and I had a nice tour. I was very lucky here. I took the short (cheap) tour, and saw a lot of wild animals, including a leopard and a tusked elephant. What’s the big deal? Yala (actually, Ruhunu) is quite big, there are only 35 leopards in it, and of the 200 elephants, only 10 have tusks. So yeah, I was lucky. I wouldn’t have the same amount of luck later in Hatton.
I also took a look in Kataragama, spend a few more days in Weligama to weld the skeleton for the tea nursery, and I left for Nuwara Eliya. More on that in the next post. For now, photos: