Crazy Journeys Arugam Bay (AbaY)a?? Mutur – Trincomalee (Trinco)- Niliveli

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Arugam Bay (AbaY)a?? Mutur – Trincomalee (Trinco)- Niliveli
14/06/09 a?? 17/06/09

A15, a very scenic route on what now must be the worst a??Aa?? Road on the Island, the A4, Arugam Bay a?? Monaragala was the previous holder, infrastructure investment is changing the face of the roads here very quickly, the road from Monaragala to Arugam has been terrible for years but now the 80kms 3hr drive is down by half to 1.5hrs on new wide flat tarmac.

We joined the scenic A15 at Batticaloa (Batti) heading to Mutur, however we were not to complete the journey as planned, we had to double back from Mutur and Toppur to take the long round route to Trinco. We were taking a friend of ours from here in Pottuvil to Trinco where he was to take up a government post, it was a form of celebration and support as he had been waiting 6 years for the position & it took a court case to win on discrimination! The law here does work just takes time.

The problems at Mutur were two-fold, on the way up we had to cross a river on a very old a??cable ferrya??, this is a floating flat pontoon hull that people, bikes & vehicles are carried on, a cable (wire or rope) is strung from one river bank to the opposite river bank, the cable is a??threadeda?? through the a??ferrya?? and pulled across the river by the men on the ferry, like you were pulling yourself over on a crate only this is bigger. A tried and tested method around the world.

Well the Mutur ferry + 3 further ones that complete the last 25kms of the 300kms A15 route, finish running at 6pm, it was 6pm-ish! We could have waited till the morning, leaving early to get our friend to his new office by 9am, no problem to find someone to give us shelter for the night, Sri Lankans can be extremely generous in these situations, however a further problem was the landing areas of the ferry were due to be concreted that night meaning no vehicular ferries would be running until the concrete has set, 2-3 days!

Such is the way of things, the A15 had turned the van into a rattling, clunking, wreak, even changed its colour to a??desert reda?? with all the dust, now we had to turn around, backtracking the last 2 hours drive to get us onto the A6 and a flat clear run into Trinco. I can hear the Harry Enfield character of the 90a??s flat cap, driving gloves, sheepskin driving coat a??You dona??t wanna being doing that route, you want to be goinga??) Yeah we knowa??Now!

A15 has the interesting sights of an a??LTTEa?? graveyard?! Areas off of the road lined with red coloured skull & crossbones flags, signifying the possibility of landmines, all of them together in straight lines all very close together, how did they get put there without setting off the mines?? (No toilet stops on the side of the road here!) Landmine a??flayinga?? machine. Perhaps the a??Enfielda?? character was right a??You dona??t wanna being doing that?a??

We took the an alternative route back to Arugam Bay A6 a??A11-A4; Total time 10 hours, 7hr driving, 1hr for lunch & 2hrs for all the checkpoints enroute, necessary for ongoing security and always courteous but extremely tedious for tourists. Would not want to do it by local bus either, train from Colombo, yes; bus, no. Every checkpoint and there are many, whole bus has to disembark walk through the checkpoint, bus is completely searched, you then board the bus onwards to the next checkpoint where the same happens again, must add 5-6hrs to the same journey we took. Far less checkpoints & buses on the A15, scenic, remember?
5 years past since I was last in Niliveli the beach resort north of Trinco, 4 hotels open all empty or only a few guests, apart from Niliveli Beach Resort with Russian tourists, package tourists from Russia are the new phenomenon for Sri Lanka, hope a few independent ones will find their way down to Arugam Bay soon!?

Last time I was in Niliveli the A15 route and Mutur were closed due to fighting between LTTE & government troops, today there is a Hindu festival with water being sprayed on passers-by, refreshments given out and a lot of smiling faces. Local fishermen had reason to celebrate as night fishing was again allowed, this being stopped after Tsunami. Today there are many happier people but I fear many a lot worse off with as many as 250,00 reported IDPa??s a??Internally Displaced Personsa?? We can only hope that the Island comes together as one to support all that need help and help build a community for all who have lost theirs over the years of conflict and trauma.

Niliveli beach was as I remembered it, slow lapping waves, wide white sand beach, fishermen going about their business hauling in the nets, teams of 20 or more working together for a meager return by what I saw in the nets. Pigeon Island on the horizon, (sadly no Scuba diving allowed as yet), gentle sloping beach that you can wade our quite a way before the water gets higher that your shoulders. It lacks the a??dramaa?? of AbaY with its crashing surf breaks and the surrounding jungles, forest and hills. It has a relaxed gentle feel.

Optimism is high for the future of tourism here in Sri Lanka, whatever words you choose to use, civil conflict, war, terrorism, it is declared over a??one nation under a groovea?? sort of thing. As usual I will stress this is not a platform for politics but review on how things are here in AbaY, Arugam Bay.

Niliveli, Mutur, A15 are all great extension to the Island, helping to build the local & foreign travelers itinerary of Sri Lanka, the opening up of the East will help in getting an element of normality back to everyday life that most locals I spoke to felt was missing a??normal living, normal lifea??

SURF COMPETITION IS ON 1st July a?? 5th July UK Pro Surf tour returns to Arugam Bay after 4yrs. Fantastic, warmly welcome, they were here after Tsunami and now back after a??conflicta?? ends.

Footnote crazy journey. I would love to know how this example is calculated; I fly back to the UK mid July, Colombo a?? London return direct with Sri Lanka Air is A?450Best I found on Expedia.india is Chennai (Madras) London return is A?280. A whopping A?170 saving; flying with Sri Lanka Air!? And oh yes it stops & you change planes in Colombo for the direct flight to London. Go figure and Colombo a?? Chennai return is A?65.

source: Purchase aristocort r

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