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THE NEAREST FARAWAY PLACE

The road to Arugam Bay’. A surfer’s paradise. This story ran in Gulf air’s inflight magazine, Gulf Life. The images have also been used by CNN Traveller and by the Metro newspaper. It’s an arduous journey to Arugam Bay. Even after making it to Sri Lanka’s capital Columbo, it’s a further twelve hours along dusty roads.But this is a small price to pay for the amazing scenery and wildlife you’ll see.

PottuVille Point

Famous for its glorious west coast resorts and elephant safaris, Sri Lanka is a firm tourist favourite. But the east coast of Sri Lanka represents uncharted waters for most. Home to pristine beaches and a laidback lifestyle, Arugam Bay is carving out a niche for itself as a surfing paradise. Natacha Butler visits the country’s latest safari hotspot to catch a few waves

Surfers at Arugam Bay

It’s a little after sunrise on Sri Lanka’s east coast and at Arugam Bay the first surfers are out. Tousled-haired local boys and wave-chasing tourists breeze across the golden sand with well-worn surfboards tucked underarm. They head to the end of the long beach, to Main Point, where six-foot waves rise and roll to shore. “I’ve been surfing for 12 years, twice a day, everyday,” says Fawas Lafeer, the 26-year-old head of the Arugam Bay Surf Club. “I love it,
I can’t imagine life not surfing, which is why I’ll always live here; the waves are really good.” The waves are not just good, they are some of the best in the world, which is why surf-lovers have been making the journey to this far-flung sleepy community on Sri Lanka’s east coast for decades. In the 1960s and 1970s they would set-off from the capital Colombo on an arduous nine-hour cross-country car journey on a barely-there road. Most were Australians and Europeans chasing the thrill of an Indian Ocean ride.
Entranced by the breaks and a sweeping curved beach lined with palm trees, several ended up staying, helping to transform a poor fishing village into the nation’s top surf spot. “Back then people came from everywhere,” says Anglo-Dutch civil engineer Fred Netzband-Miller, who arrived at Arugam Bay to surf in 1977, fell in love with the place and decided to call it home. He now runs the local hoteliers’ association. “It was the combination of quality waves and a beautiful beach. Although there’s not much rain it’s a very lush place because of the rivers. I’ve travelled the world, but Arugam Bay is unique. ”The bay became such a hot destination in surf-circles that travellers never abandoned it despite the shock of the devastating 2004 tsunami, which battered the Sri Lankan coast on 26 December claiming more than 30,000 lives, including one in ten people in Arugam Bay. They also defied nearly three decades of deadly civil conflict between Tamil Tiger rebels and the Sri Lankan military. “During the war surfers still came, they did not stop,they were not afraid,” explains Lafeer. “You know surfers only think about surfing,” he laughs. Continue reading ‘THE NEAREST FARAWAY PLACE’

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SAR at Arugam Bay

1/4/2105

SAR at Arugam Bay

Break NewsOne Country – Two Systems

 Innovative MoU signed in  China

 

President Srisena has this week signed a MoU (Memo of Understanding) at the Annual Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) in Boao, Hainan, China. Agreement has been reached for the creation of an experimental Special Administrative Region (SAR)  in the Deep South East of Sri Lanka.
The area around ARUGAM BAY, reaching from PottuVille to Panama has long been regarded by international observers and experts as an ideal location. Arugam Bay rests in a very safe and easy controllable position. Perfect in fact to become a model project.

This is why Arugam Bay has been selected

This is why Arugam Bay has been selected

The plan is to grant AbaY (as it is internationally known)  Sri Lanka’s first ever autonomous Administrative region status and allow special privileges. Some forward thinking members within the new S.L Government seem to have realized that the SAR approach has worked wonders elsewhere, such as HongKong, Singapore, Macao, Dubai etc.
Tourism wise Sri Lanka is well below expected targets. It’s neighbour, directly opposite (Burma / Myanmar) had far less arrivals a few years ago. But with clever politics Burma -also a former British Colony – has now reached out to nearly 5 Million arrivals. This needs to be addressed Government insiders have long argued. Arugam Bay SAR is seen to be the perfect solution.. Even a ferry service between Burma, Thailand and India and AbaY’s beautiful East Coast should be considered.

Everyone agrees that the new SAR project will boost investments, tourism, personal freedom, integration and promote many innovative developments.
The region decided upon in this – old fashioned convention breaking –  MoU  includes the already existing, but controversial huge ‘Buckingham Palace’ cum ‘International Convention Centre’ (depending on which report you believe) build by the previous Government just a few miles South of the main Bay at ‘Peanut Farm’. Proposed is a full Duty free status and unrestricted imports, lower interest rates, relaxed immigration and excise rules and an innovative visa on arrival facility. Other proposals include relaxed night club, party and recreation facilities. However, a decision to allow Packer style casinos and similar activities has not been reached.

Google Maps - Google Chrome 3282015 14907 PM

During his visit President Srisena held talks with China’s leadership, seeking to smooth ruffled feathers after scuttling Chinese-funded projects and seeking stronger ties with regional rival India.
Sirisena has unnerved China by suspending a $1.4 billion “port city” project in Colombo that India considered a security risk, and ordering a review of other Beijing-financed projects and loans amid allegations of corruption. China has warned of consequences for future investments and relations have looked to worsen. Yet for China, Sri Lanka has never been more important. With its man in Colombo out of the picture, Beijing is under pressure to move quickly to find new ways to engage a country where its strategic interests remain just as vital, yet its diplomatic clout is on the slide at a time when competing powers are circling.
Political analysts and Government insiders suggest that the AbaY SAR project has been decided upon to please all sides and the three Nations involved.
The remote Arugam region never presented any strategic importance. Not even the LTTE or the GOSL forces found any reason to fight or protect indigenous fishing folk, a few foreign surfers or the odd pot-smoking drop-out.

 

During his state visit to Sri Lanka, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Mogli pledged US$380 million under an Indian Line of Credit for the development of the railway sector in Sri Lanka. Both India and China have invested in railway projects in Sri Lanka.
India in turn has agreed to connect the AbaY SAR with the North of the Island, proposed a ferry Service from Tamil Nadu to Olluville’s existing but not used  deep sea harbour and extend rail links from Jaffna to Matara via Batticaloa. The old British Colonial plan of PottuVille Central Railway station has also been considered.

China seems to have agreed to fund the extension of the Southern Highway to link up with the proposed Eastern Motorway. Which would run from Matara to connect Mattala Airport and continue  past Siyamalanduwa to connect with Batticaloa.

AbaY bridge is the only access point to SAR. An immigration point will be established at this strategic point of entry

AbaY bridge is the only access point to SAR. An immigration point will be established at this strategic point of entry

The AbaY SAR agreement is seen as a compromise, pleasing both India and China. If SAR is successful, the controversial and now shelved Colombo Port project will also be shifted to the East Coast.
Existing environmentalist studies indicate that there are no objections. A future connection with Hambantot deep sea Harbour as well as Mad-Mattala International Airport would bring huge benefits to this remote and very underdeveloped area.
This is seen to be an olive branch towards the former Rajapack Governement, who invested Chinese fortunes into fairly hopeless and now dormant projects. Rajapack-Matatla International Airport would become a Charter only as well as a Low Cost Airline hub under the existing plans.

Location and Community relations
Arugam Bay occupies  a unique, but also very remote location. Amazing statistics show, that they enjoy  333 days sunshine/ each year. A perfect resort in every aspect.  Combining Sports, Surf, Wild Life, amazing Historical places (some 5,000 years old!) with totally non-commercial, unspoiled, untouched village life. AbaY basically has everything the entire island has to offer: But this is just in a tiny, condensed corner of the Nation.

The only access is through thick jungles and National Parks. Via one single road. Crossing one single bridge. Continue reading ‘SAR at Arugam Bay’

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Dreams of Ceylon

PM makes revelations about a “mansion” in Arugam Bay

…….“Sri lanka’s best beach is in Arugam Bay” ……
Addressing a public meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe revealed facts about a mansion that was being built in Arugam Bay.

Google Earth View of the Peanut Farm Hotel project, Panama - AbaY

Google Earth View of the Peanut Farm Hotel project, Panama – AbaY

The meeting was held in the Uluwitige area in Galle.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe speaking at the meeting expressed these views,

”Recently I located a palace. It is bigger than the Buckingham palace. This was found in Arugam Bay. This palace also has a name. It is called the International Coordinating Headquarters. What we have found here are chalets, in other words holiday bungalows. There were 57 chalets. They were VIP chalets with pools. There are three pools. This is in the sea and it is 100 feet long. Sri lanka’s best beach is in Arugam Bay. There are pools here. What is the purpose of this. Can international coordination be done from Arugam Bay? For whom are these built? Now we have put a halt to it. They have already built 15. Only walls have been put up and we have stopped further work. The Parliament has not given approval for this. Money from the Presidential Secretariat has been given for this. All financial regulations have been violated. Who paid for these? When these expenses were stopped, we could lower the fuel prices.”

Minister of Mass media and Parliamentary affairs Gayantha Karunathilake too expressed views at the meeting.

”They filled their pockets with commissions from road construction. This government will initiate a new beginning where everything will be done in a transparent way. All this would be done within the one hundred day programme.”

http://newsfirst.lk/english/2015/02/pm-makes-revelations-mansion-arugam-bay/78216

Adopt an AbaY dog

Originally published 10/01/2010 (5 years ago)
But this issue is now even more urgent.

At remote Arugam Bay, a few hundred homeless dogs are waiting to be adopted by caring animal lovers. Please help to save them.

Adopt an Arugam Bay dog !

A sponsor has already been found to provided a suitable, safe  vehicle.
To take them to Colombo or elsewhere on the island.
All animals will be collected, fed, treated and transported with the outmost care & respect
All the Community needs is an address to deliver them to.
Please, animal Lovers:
Please do come forward and let us know where to send them to.
Before even more are run over by speeding and careless drivers on our new fast roads!
The Social Networks are buzzing.
With appeals and online petitions to stop a rumored animal cull.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/stop-the-sri-lankan-government-from-killing-millions-of-stray-dogs/
We support this initiative!
But. What to do?
At Arugam Bay four costly  sterilization programs have been carried out, since the 2004 Tsunami.
In our  remote Bay residents and visitors are unsure if any success can be reported.
Many people are simply too scared to walk on the beach or indeed the road, specially at night. Due to large packs of hungry dogs around.
Below is a copy of one of the stories we covered 5 years ago.
The writer of this article has personally observed that one  particular, disabled bitch alone has had a litter every year since and produced 60 or so pups, most of which appear to be unwell or/and  mentally unstable …..
Something has to be done – This situation is out of control.

The article below was first published 6th Marc, 2007:
The Tsunami Animal People Alliance (TAPA) has, in the true sense of the word: emBarked on a dog sterilization program at Arugam Bay.
Operation Theater
Vets at work @ SVH
In total 300 – 400 dogs are being treated locally.
Arugam.info is informed that about 10,000 have been spayed island wide already.
It is said to be the best and most humane method of controlling stray and infected animals.
The visiting, all Sri Lankan team consists of 4 qualified vets and 7 assistants, a van, and a mobile clinic.
Arugam.info is informed that a budget of 18$/dog has been secured by foreign donors, most of which (10$) will be used for quality drugs and medicines.
Take a look at the work in the attached photo album. Continue reading ‘Adopt an AbaY dog’

Lessons Learned?

Arugam Bay.
Pushed from pillar to post
And largely left on it’s own.
10 years ago.

All beach front dwellings were destroyed. Waves up to 17 meter high

All beach front dwellings were destroyed. Waves up to 17 meter high

Sri Lanka, the tsunami and the evolution of disaster response

COLOMBO, 24 December 2014 (IRIN) – On the morning of 26 December 2004, Mohideen Ajeemal, a fish distributor from Sainathimaruthu, a village on Sri Lanka’s eastern coast, hurriedly climbed a coconut tree to escape rapidly rising seawater. As he did so he saw his young daughter and son struggling to save themselves. “I found both bodies later that afternoon. My son’s body was swept away about a mile, my daughter’s had got stuck in a fence,” he said.

A decade later, the 45-year-old said he finally feels safer next to the sea.

“Now I check the weather regularly, I have SMS alerts on my phone that warn me of possible dangers,” he said. On 15 November 2014 when a 7.3 magnitude earthquake was reported 150km northeast of the Indonesian island of Maluku, an SMS alerted Ajeemal that there was no danger to Sri Lanka. Continue reading ‘Lessons Learned?’

Healing waters

BeitragVerfasst am: 06.08.2005 08:23    Titel:

Surfen in Arugam
Antworten mit Zitat

‘Healing watersCarolyn Fry finds that surfing is helping one Sri Lankan resort to get back on its feet after the tsunami

Tuesday August 2, 2005

Alan Stokes takes on the surf at Arugam Bay. Photograph: Carolyn Fry

On a sweeping stretch of cinnamon sand, a crowd turned its eyes to the rolling ocean surf. Local families, holiday-makers and a throng of photographers, film-makers and journalists were gathering to see the 2005 Champion of Champions surf contest in Arugam Bay, south-east Sri Lanka.
As a new day’s sun burned the sand through the fronds of coconut palms, surfers launched themselves into the water to ride the swell in a ballet of curving turns, speeding glides and twists of spray. The Boxing Day tsunami ripped through this sleepy beachside village, but the Indian Ocean’s barrelling waves are helping the community get back on its feet.

The legendary ‘right-handers’ of Arugam Bay have long attracted travelling wave-riders. During the country’s 20-year civil war, a dedicated group of Australian surfers regularly risked being bombed, or shot in cross-fire during violent battles between Tamil Tigers and the army. With the end of the conflict in 2002, more adventurers started to make the 10-hour journey along narrow, pitted roads to the famed beach.

Last year, when the British Professional Surfing Association (BPSA) held the first ever Champions surfing competition in the area it seemed things were finally looking up for this dusty, laid-back cluster of low-rise hotels, palm-roofed cabanas and fishermen’s shacks.

A message posted on the Siam View Hotel’s website at Christmas said: “The 2004 season has been the best the bay has ever seen. Nothing – not even another civil war – can stop the bay’s progress now.”

Hours later, the first of eight waves struck, sucking a metre of sand from the base of palms on Arugam Point, plucking cabanas and their inhabitants from the sand and smashing a thickening cargo of debris through the windows of the buses on the main street.

Simon, owner of the unfortunately named Tsunami Hotel, was managing the Siam View that night. He awoke to find himself underwater with his leg trapped. After breaking his ankle to free himself he was swept through several dwellings by the murky, diesel-tainted current before managing to grasp hold of some building blocks. This stopped Simon being swept out to sea as the water receded back to the horizon. Today, his faded superman tattoo has been supplemented by a fresh turquoise inking of a tsunami, along with the date he survived against all odds.

Following the tsunami, the organisers of the surfing contest were in two minds as to whether it should go ahead this year. A third of Arugam Bay’s 3,000 inhabitants had been killed in the disaster, money pledged by charities was slow in reaching the village and the bridge carrying the main road into Arugam Bay had been breached by the waves, cutting the community off for a short period.

However, when the bridge reopened in April the organisers decided the competition should take place. They felt that bringing 100 people into the village would serve as an impetus to get hotels rebuilt as soon as possible as well as injecting much-needed cash into the local economy.

“Everyone worked very, very hard to put it in place,” said Ralph Pereira, managing director of Travel and Tours Anywhere, which developed the contest in conjunction with Sri Lankan Airlines and the BPSA. “We didn’t know for sure that it would go ahead or whether there would be sufficient hotel rooms until six weeks beforehand.”

Guesthouse owners had certainly been hurrying to rebuild and reopen rooms damaged by the tsunami. At Hideaway Guesthouse, where I was staying, the front part of the garden was still a building site. But the main building, with its colonial tea plantation feel was homely and clean, with plump pink and orange cushions brightening rattan chairs.

Before the tsunami, surfing had been a mainstay of the tourism economy right around Sri Lanka’s southern coastline. The island’s south-west has the best waves from November to April, the south-east from May to September.

When Arugam Bay’s right-handers tailed off with the onset of the monsoon, surfers simply headed west to Hikkaduwa, where plentiful hotels and beach villas stood among lush gardens of banana and bourganvillia.

Recreating this surfers’ paradise in the wake of the tsunami has not been easy; with compensation payments from the government yet to materialise, most tourism enterprises have had to rely on their own funds to rebuild their businesses.

“We lost all our watersports equipment,” explained Thilak Weerasinghe, managing director of Lanka Sportreizen. “I didn’t get a cent, but luckily we had built up the business and can afford to rebuild.”

The Travel Foundation and Association of Independent Tour Operators (Aito) are working with the Sri Lankan government, local communities and environmental groups to help people affected by the tsunami regain their livelihoods by developing responsible tourism initiatives.

A number of projects have been earmarked for assistance, including a plan to create a sustainable fishing village. Visitors will see fish being brought to shore and sold, enabling fishermen to benefit from tourism while maintaining their traditional role in society.

Another scheme aims to revegetate land affected by the tsunami, using native plant species. This will include research into using mangroves for coastal protection. Funding for the projects will come from money already pledged by Aito members and donations from customers.

Back in Arugam Bay, there are plans to use money raised by the UK surfing fraternity to build a community surf foundation. Tsunami Surf Relief UK (TSRUK) has so far raised £30,000 through charity auctions and events and has allocated a third of this to building a new surf centre. As well as being a focal point where local surfers can meet, the foundation will help generate cash by offering board hire and surfing lessons to visiting tourists.

“We felt the community would benefit from having a centre offering surf-board hire and perhaps swimming lessons and life-guarding,” explained Phil Williams, national director of Christian Surfers UK and a trustee of TSRUK. “The break at Arugam Point is world famous for its waves and surfers from around the world go specifically to that area. In the three or four years after the ceasefire and before the tsunami, more and more surfers were coming to A-Bay; it was a much more prosperous place than before they came.”

As the surfing contest hotted up there was something of a party atmosphere on the beach. Dozens of coloured flags rippled in the tropical wind along the path to Arugam Point where glassy turquoise waves curled invitingly around the reef.

Judges assessed surfers on their turns, style and risk-taking, while waiting competitors nervously flexed their muscles, waxed their boards and contemplated their chances of winning the £2,000 prize money.

For the Sri Lankan surfers, many of whom lost friends and family in the tsunami, preparing for the contest helped them overcome their fear of the ocean. As each entered the water, the 100 or so villagers seated beneath the palm trees lining the shore cheered and whistled their support.

“The contest has been hugely important for morale after the tsunami,” said Phil Williams. “It’s sent out the message that, while Arugam Bay isn’t quite yet open for business as usual, it’s back on the tourist trail.”

Way to go

Getting there: Sri Lankan Airlines (020-8538 2001

), offers 11 flights a week from Heathrow to Colombo. Fares start at £450 return plus taxesWhere to stay: Travel and Tours Anywhere Ltd (0208 8136622) offers surfing holidays to Arugam Bay and Hikkaduwa. A 15-day holiday to Arugam Bay including flights, transfers and B&B accommodation in a guest house costs from £699pp. 14 days in Hikkaduwa costs from £599pp. Hire of boards and surfing lessons can be arranged

When to go: The waves at Arugam Bay are best between May and September during the dry season. During the off-season, Sri Lanka’s main surf spot on the south-west coast, Hikkaduwa, has good waves

Further information: Sri Lanka Tourist Board (020-7930 2627), arugambay.com’

http://travel.guardian.co.uk/c…..60,00.html

Continue reading ‘Healing waters’

Always in Season: Arugam Bay

Unless you are a surfer:
NOW is the BEST time to visit sunny Arugam Bay!
Brilliant weather
Mild & Sunny
Calm, Clear sea
Great Wild Life
Amazing Historical Places
Plenty of vacant rooms
Who says: It’s ‘Low’Season in the Bay of Arugam ?

The Island

Arugam Bay. And the progress.

"The Island" article

Environmentalists, nature lovers and some holidaymakers are up in arms against the rapid haphazard development taking place in Arugam Bay which is one of the most sought after and un-spoilt tourist resorts in Sri Lanka.

Michelle Mitchel of Sydney, Australia, born to Sri Lankan parents, expressed her displeasure at the adhoc and rapid development taking place in the area and added if the government allowed the trend to continue, very soon the country would see that the steady flow of tourists to the resort would reduce drastically.

Michelle Mitchel of Sydney

Mitchelle in an interview with “The Traveller” after holidaying in Arugam Bay said that the tourism authorities and other stakeholders should make every effort to protect the area and ensure that there was no overdevelopment in the resort.

Arugam Bay with its pristine and un-spoilt beaches, the laid back and rustic atmosphere had attracted thousands of holidaymakers to the country. Another reason why it has become popular all over the world as a destination among tourists is because Pottuvil Point is one of the best surfing areas in the world. Pottuvil Point has attracted large number of surfers from different parts of the world and it is a gold mine for Sri Lanka’s tourism industry which should be protected at any cost,” she said.

Building of high-rises and similar construction , overdevelopment and overcrowding would definitely ruin  the  character of the area  and it would become just another tourist resort  with a concrete jungle  which would eventually result in holidaymakers who loved the ‘paradise’ turning to other exotic destinations in the region or elsewhere and this could be a dangerous precedent, Mitchelle said. Continue reading ‘The Island’

Tourism Day

Saturday, 27th September, 2014

There will be a Celebration at the Pacific Hotel, Arugam Bay

27/09/2014

27/09/2014

Nostalgia at AbaY

Nostalgia at AbaY

Coming from the re-vamped modern City of Colombo to Arugam Bay is like a trip into the past.
Escape the progress!

Millions spent on uplifts

Millions spent on uplifts

However. Once you reach the poor East Coast and the Bay of Arugam. You will find:
Daily. And often All Weekend Powercuts.

Daily Power Cuts

Daily Power Cuts

So What?
It’s a perfect setting. For a romantic candle lit dinner by the beach. Under the clear star-studded sky.

A trip back to last century

A trip back to last century

Water supply cut off every day?

USAIDS Water supply

USAIDS Water supply

No problem!
Cool down and have an inviting ‘sea bath’ in the clear, blue ocean in front.

Plenty of clear water available

Plenty of clear water available

No street lights

No street lights

No Street lights? Even on the brand new USAID 14 Mill. $$$ bridge?
Mind your way – avoid the open drains

All drains are open

All drains are open

Internet disruptions?

Unstable Internet at AbaY

Unstable Internet at AbaY

A perfect opportunity to talk to fellow travelers!

Most places have Free Wifi in the Bay. But often the connections are poor

Most places have Free Wifi in the Bay. But often the connections are poor

Luxury Bus Service not coming?

Usually 20:30 departs

Usually 20:30 departs

Ideal! To remain in the dark ages.
At Arugam Bay. After all, this is our island’s most promising, Government declared, tourist Resort!

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A Royal Visit

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A Royal Visit

The Royal Enfield Club of Sri Lanka
Had a brief stop – over at Arugam Bay
This Sunday lunchtime.
On their way back to Colombo from Batticaloa.

Two British Icons

Two British Icons

SAM_2646

SAM_2648

SAM_2649

SAM_2652

SAM_2653

SAM_2655

SAM_2656

SAM_2661

SAM_2663

SAM_2665

SAM_2668

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HOME AWAY FROM HOME

As with most Asian countries, it’s not necessary to book accommodation, or anything else, in advance when visiting Sri Lanka. However, I knew that I’d be arriving into Arugam Bay in the middle of peak season aka surf season and so I emailed a couple of places to see whether they had any room. Most replied saying that they were full, with the exception of the Siam view hotel, whose reply was, well, intriguing:

No problem, dear Tom-Tom.
Just make your way.
(“But “Don’t mention the War” 😉
Drop in.
And all will fall into it’s place.

No worries.

Arugam bay, and this hostel both sounded like my kind of places, and they haven’t disappointed. The town itself is a small, relaxed, hippy surf town, pretty much a Sri Lankan Byron bay. Except that it’s much cheaper – a coconut costs less than 50 cents – is less busy, has pumping waves and there aren’t the stupidly strict drinking rules that exist in my usual hippy paradise. So far so good, then I got to the hostel.

AbaY Beach in front of the YMCA

AbaY Beach in front of the YMCA

The YMCA is right in the centre of town, and it is the first hostel I’ve come across in Sri Lanka, the first time that I’ve had air-conditioning, and the cheapest accommodation I’ve found. I wandered into the only dorm room, and I wandered into a new family. The floor was covered in sand (sorry Fred), a mouse ate through my iPhone case and 500 rupees, the power is intermittent, and I used a towel as a bedsheet for a week, but the YMCA is everything a hostel should be.

YMCArugam's Road front

YMCArugam’s Road front

It’s full of fascinating and fun people, inspiring quotes cover the walls, and the relaxed approach of the owners makes for an incredibly welcoming atmosphere. The guys running it didn’t even know that I was staying for the first 4 days, and I’ve now been here 7 days and I still haven’t paid for one yet, a perfect environment for someone that hasn’t had a house key for over a year.

YMCA Philosophy

YMCA Philosophy

Little Derek (great name for a baby!) runs around the hostel naked, there’s a brightly painted VW camper can parked in the garden, and the locals chat to you while you’re using the outdoor showers, with butterflies swooping overhead.

The owners, of various hippy and traveller backgrounds, even offer the rooms for free on couchsurfing.com if they’re not occupied by paying guests. When I asked one of the owners why they’re so relaxed, the response was a fairly obvious one: when you’ve lived through a tsunami, nothing else seems worth worrying about.

Sadly. They left

Sadly. They left

If I ever do own my own hostel, I want the atmosphere to be based on this one. I won’t make any money, like the guys here don’t, but I’ll have a great time with great people and that’s what really matters to me. Unfortunately, however, all good things must come to an end, and most of our family have gone their separate ways, despite staying for far longer than planned, and I will leave tomorrow too. Fortunately, that’s because I have to catch my flight to the Maldives for some more sun, sea and surf, life is tough right now!

Message Wall

Message Wall

source / original post:
http://travellivedream.com/2014/08/11/home-away-from-home-away-from-home/