A Travellerspoint blog

The South of Lanka

Galle-Hikkeduwa Trip

Few years back, when I visited Galle for a day trip, I was fully convinced to come back to this place and spend more time in this beautiful city situated in the Southern part of the island. And this time too, it didn't disappoint me. There are two roads which takes you to Galle from Colombo. The old single-lane highway goes along the beach (not exactly like Pacific Coast Highway), and has lots of small towns which offer various activities to do, along with many scenic views of sky, ocean and land.

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But, if you are short of time, take the newly European style expressway on which you can cover 130 kms within 70-80 mins of drive. I would suggest to take this expressway while going to Galle and return by the old highway.

As a town, Galle is a small place with beautiful colonial era buildings built along the sea. The Unawatuna beach just on the suburb of the town hosts most of the exotic resorts and happening places of the town. Remaining, it's just a normal asian town with honking buses, small markets and crowded streets. So, we decided to stay at Unawatuna Beach and opted for Unawantuna Beach Resort. This was an exotic resort with lots of activities offered in house by them. The best part about the complete stretch of this beach is that despite having loads of beachside properties, restaurants and pubs, it is one of the cleanest beaches you can find in south east asia. And I guess, the local people and authorities have taken care of this cleanliness pretty seriously.


So, we decided to spend our day time in the resort itself , relaxing in two beautiful swimming pools and soaking up the sun at the beach. But, as the temperatures lowered in the evening, we ventured out and headed to famous Lighthouse & Fort area and Diver's cliff. The whole area is beautifully maintained and colonial era buildings look beautiful from the top of the Diver's cliff, where young lads dive from a height of around 50 feets into the ocean as professional stuntmen.


You can spend the evening at various cafes on that street looking at sun going down and the whole view looking mesmerizing. The famous cricket ground of Galle is situated just across the road and you can have a good view of the match standing at the top of the Fort. After spending the evening, we headed back to Unawatuna Beach and enjoyed a sumptuous vegetarian dinner at one of the many restaurants/pubs at the beach side.

Next day, we opted to visit places around Galle. The two wheelers are easily available on the rent for a day or two. Just fill in the fuel and head on the old colombo highway along the sea. Travel for 20 kms and you would reach a beautiful town of Hikkeduwa. The place itself was full of beach side properties but was less cleaner than Unawatuna. The only issue with the place is the traffic running on this highway right from the middle of the town. Still, go towards the beach and all noise would just vanish. One of the things Hikkeduwa is particularly famous for is Glass Boat Ride. They have some average looking corals and aquatic fauna just near to the beach. So, they have replaced the bottom of the boats with glass, so that the travelers can enjoy the coral view without going for snorkeling or scuba. The experience was unique but just worth a single visit. They carry bread chunks and you can see more fishes when they throw the bread pieces into the water, than through the glass bottom.

Next, we headed to visit a Turtle Sanctuary on the same highway towards Colombo. It is situated near Matara town and has some amazing collection of turtles. The guide( employee at the sanctuary) boasted of the fact that Sri Lankans don't eat Turtles(and eat everything else) and hence they save these turtles from Chinese etc and hence doing a very noble cause. Nevertheless, the place was nicely maintained with different kinds and ages of turtles being kept there.

The next tourist town on the highway is Bentota, which is again a beautiful small town which stands at the meeting point of a big lake and ocean. Though we didn't visit this town, but just crossing it towards Colombo, we made up our minds to visit it on our next trip to Sri Lanka.
After reaching Colombo in the night, it was hard to come out of those mesmerizing views of the Indian Ocean, and it felt like going back again there, On the Beach, Under the Sun

Posted by indianvoyager 01:03 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged beaches coral galle Comments (0)

The Calmness of Kampot

Kampot by the River

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When I landed in Cambodia, I was confused for the last leg of our trip. Whether it should be in a capital city of Phnom Penh, where I can see few of the hostorical places, or should it be at a calm, composed town like Kampot. And luckily, we opted for the right place.
Kampot lies almost at half way between Phnom Penh & Sihanoukville. Again, the taxis were easily available at $40 to take us from Sihanoukville to Kampot. When we reached Kampot, two things caught our attention - First the BIG river & secondly tourists on two wheelers. It was clear that this town has to be enjoyed on a two wheeler and the river plays an important part in the tourism.
We had booked the room at Villa Vedici, which is a very nicely made hotel on the river banks. With two swimming pools, riverside verandas and all kinds of logistics support, this hotel is perfect for any stranger in the town.

To start with, there are lots of sunset river cruises being run on small boats to large buffet carrying steamers. The pricing starts from $5 per person, but it's worth doing it at this cost. They would take you in the mangroves where the fisherman boats can be seen in action. We opted for a small boat with roof which was provided by our hotel itself. The driver took us to a secluded village, where they have put 3-4 hammocks along the river to enjoy the sunset from there.


The best part of Kampot can be enjoyed in the evening, when the Old market area brings itself out from slumber and lots of european style bars and eateries along the road & river welcome you. The drinks are available at ultra cheap prices (starting from $0.5), along with food. Luckily, they even had two Indian restaurants over there. More than us, those indian restaurant guys were surprised to see indian guests at their place. It tells the story that where exactly Cambodia lies in an indian tourists' radar. We also found some souvenir shops in the market for shopping et al.

Next morning, we decided to rent a scooter and go for the ride to nearby Bokor National Park. It is situated on a hill with superbly maintained road leading upto the top of the national park. The ride was pretty good with lots of greenery and cool environment. At the top, there are contrasting structures standing. First one is Las Vegas style Casino resort made by Chinese people, which according to most of the tourists, looks really ugly. Second is an old french church, which was destroyed during the civil war. As it is on a hill, it was a strategically important location for rebels. Just a small trek of 100 m from church, and you can enjoy a majestic view of green fields leading to vast ocean. Also, if the weather is clear, the islands of Vietnam are pretty much visible.

On the way up, there is a huge Buddha statue carved out on a hill. The area around the statue is pretty peaceful.

Places we missed - Kampot is famous worldwide for it's pepper plantation. They grow pepper in 3-4 different colors like black, red, white etc and is exported to other countries. There are designated farms where they take you on a tour and demonstrates the whole processes.

The mystic calmness of this small town Kampot, be it on the lazy river in the day or at the old market in the evening,it definitely brought our chaotic minds to a sense of tranquility.

Posted by indianvoyager 11:15 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

The White Sand Island

Koh Rong Island. Cambodia

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I have been dreaming about those white sands and turquoise waters which google shows every time you type KOH RONG. Leave the blog and just type it once. I bet you would be mesmerized by image itself. Just imagine how the actual place would be.
Though the journey from my home to KOh Rong was looong and involved 5 breaks in journey and 4 change of vehicles, all these pains were worth taking. We landed at Phnom Penh airport, and within 5 minutes, I was proud of my decision of not staying there and moving directly to Sihanoukville . The city was full of traffic, chaos and dust. We had pre-booked the taxi ( comforts of traveling with your wife and kid), and the guy was standing at airport with my name card in his hand. The buses would be much cheaper but takes much longer time. Straight away we boarded the taxi ($65) from Phnom Penh airport to Sihanoukville.
The journey from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville was on a narrow two lane highway, full of all kinds of motorized vehicles. The journey was of around 4 hours and the countryside was pretty normal( if you are from India). The driver helped us in reaching to our hotel in Sihanoukville. Our stay was at a calm and quiet homestay kind of place called as Patchouly Chill House. It is being run by a French couple and is very beautifully maintained and run by them. The price was also decent ($50), but it didn't include the breakfast, though they run the breakfast till 2:30 in the afternoon.
As we move out to the hot and happening Serendipity Beach area of Sihanoukville for dinner and drinks, one thing we soon realised that the local currency is not RIELS, but USD. Even the ATMs were dispensing the USDs (they charge USD5 per transaction). The booze and food is very cheap but also lacked choices for vegetarians. USD 10 is enough for a person for heavy dinner with light drinks.

Next morning, we were ready for our speed boat ride to Koh Rong. Just to give you an idea about the island, the eastern Koh Tuch side is much more populated and party oriented, but dirty; and the western Sok San Long Beach side is much more cleaned and secluded. The transportation between two sides is not much available after evening. You can also trek through the forest from one side to another.
We had decided to stay at the western side and our resort Sok San Beach Resort had their own private speed boat service to the resort, but at the double price of what other companies offer. But once you go through the to & fro journey to the islands, the only thing which come in my mind is SAFETY above money or any other parameter. The sea gets rough quite a lot and it's always better to use a reputed boat service.

So, we reached the boarding place in Sihanoukville for our resort in Koh Rong. The boarding was pretty hassle free but pretty far from centre of the town.

The boats were modern, fitted with all the safety mechanisms. And the journey from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong itself was very beautiful and serene. After about an hour, as our boat approached the shores at Sok san Beach Resort, the view was already oozing calmness and looked exactly like the google images which I had been seeing from past one year.


The resort was pretty big, maybe biggest on island, with loong list of in house activities available at a premium prices. If you are going with a family, better to book a Loft Room, which is like 1BHK Flat.Again, the food had very little options for vegetarians, but their chef was pretty supportive and made few dishes for us as per our recipes.
But, the complete picture of white sands, blue waters, clean beaches was a delight for our eyes. And that's why, we spend our three days right there on the beach, soaking our eyes with this majestic view. The activities included, Snorkeling, Scuba, Kayaking etc. We did snorkeling, but didn't feel the coral reefs and fishes to be that attractive as they should have been for the first timers. Maybe the location wasn't really perfect for such activities.

And if you feel that you are not going to spend more for food and drinks in the resort, you can walk down the beach for 5 mins and reach the Sok San Village, which has 5-6 beach side eating joints, serving all kinds of food (non-veg) and drinks at much cheaper price. And few of them are actually run by Europeans and Australians.

Sitting on the white sand beach looking at turquoise water, drinking cold coconut water or chilled beer, eating margarita pizza and feeling that nice breeze on your face, this beach destination was definitely better than most of the beaches across the globe.


Posted by indianvoyager 10:12 Tagged beaches Comments (0)

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