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AbaY Ladies Surf Club

‘When I surf I feel so strong’: Sri Lankan women’s quiet surfing revolution

Women and girls have challenged conservative attitudes in the hallowed surf spot of Arugam Bay

Shamali Sanjaya (centre) with members of the Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club. Photograph: Max

Growing up in a small fishing village along the east coast of Sri Lanka, Shamali Sanjaya would often sit on the beach and look out at the boisterous waves. She would watch in envy as others, including her father and brother, grabbed surfboards, paddled out into the sea and then rode those waves smoothly back to shore. “I longed for it in my heart,” she said.

But as a local woman, surfing was strictly out of bounds for her. In Sri Lanka’s conservative society, the place for women was at the home and it was only the men, or female tourists, who were allowed to ride the hallowed waves in Arugam Bay, considered Sri Lanka’s best surf spot.

Yet now, as a 34-year-old mother of two and with another baby on the way, Sanjaya is at the forefront of a quiet female surfing revolution that has swept not just her village but the whole country. In 2018, she helped set up Sri Lanka’s first all-female surf club in Arugam Bay and in 2020 competed in Sri Lanka’s first women-only category in a national surfing competition. At four months pregnant, she’s still hitting the waves several times a week, and plans to compete again after her baby is born.

Shamali Sanjaya helped set up Sri Lanka’s first all-female surf club in Arugam Bay in 2018. Photograph: Max Gifted

It began in 2011 with a knock from a neighbour. Tiffany Carothers, a surfing enthusiast and mother of two who had just moved in next door from her native California, asked Sanjaya if she wanted to come surfing. It didn’t matter that she’d only tried it once before, Carothers assured her, they’d lend her a board and give her some lessons.

Once she had a taste for the waves, Sanjaya could not be stopped. She proved to be a natural, taking after her father, who had once taught surfing, and her brother, who is a national surf champion.

“When I surf, it is such a happy feeling for me,” she said. “I am filled with this energy, I feel so strong. Life is full of all these headaches and problems, but as soon as I get into the water, I forget about it all.”

Yet she faced fierce disapproval, particularly from her brother. Their parents had died when she was seven and he was protective of his sisters, believing that their place was inside the home.

“My brother told me that it is not our culture for women to be surfing, that I should stay inside and do the cooking and cleaning,” said Sanjaya. Known for being headstrong, she decided to ignore him and would instead co-ordinate secret surf rendezvous, rushing to the beach at lunchtimes when her brother was eating or going out at the crack of dawn.

More local girls started to join the surfers after an event teaching them how to surf in 2015. Photograph: Max Gifted

In 2015, after interest from other women in the village, Carothers decided to set up an event to teach more local girls in Arugam Bay how to surf. She and Sanjaya went house to house, talking to women and their families to persuade them to come along.

Initially many parents were reluctant, fearful about safety and that surfing meant partying, drugs and alcohol, or that, in a society that still subscribes to outdated views of light skin equating to beauty, being out in the sun would darken their daughters’ skin. “We told them we never do anything that disrespects our culture,” said Sanjaya. “We don’t wear bikinis, we don’t drink, it is just about getting into the waves.”

The first event proved so popular that they decided to make it a weekly gathering. But as gossip and local disapproval began to swirl, Carothers was pulled in by the Sri Lanka tourist board. “They accused me of trying to change the culture, that girls in Sri Lanka don’t surf and if I wanted to help their families I should give them sewing machines,” she said. “They threatened to kick my family out of the country if they saw me teaching surf lessons to girls.”

The Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club has about a dozen core members, aged from 13 to 43. Photograph: Max Gifted

The police also began questioning the members, asking whether Carothers was giving them alcohol and drugs, and over half the girls stopped attending. But rather than stopping altogether, the remaining women took their club underground and would meet secretly on the beach and go on clandestine surf trips to other parts of the island.

Finally in 2017, after the Surfing Federation of Sri Lanka was set up, there was a pathway for their own official surf club and in August 2018 Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club was born.Advertisement

They now have about a dozen core members, ranging from ages 13 to 43. Though they have broken through many of the local taboos, many of the women still face a backlash from their families and communities. Nandini Kaneshlingam, a 43-year-old mother of four whose husband killed himself in 2011, said she suffered so much stigma over being a mother and widow in her 40s on a surfboard that she almost quit the club several times.

Nandini Kaneshlingam says after her husband died ‘surfing made me feel happy again’. Photograph: Max Gifted

But having persisted at the insistence of the other women, Kaneshlingam said that surfing had given her a new lease of life. “It was my children who came and pushed me on to waves,” she said. “After my husband died I was very sad and things were very difficult, but with surfing, it made me feel happy again.”

Ammu Anadarasa, 14, one of the club’s youngest members, said she had been mercilessly teased at school. “My friends at school used to fight with me about it, they’d say ‘Why are you doing surfing?’ and call me a boy,” she said. But when she showed her friends photos in a local newspaper of her surfing, they were impressed. “Now they know I am a good surfer,” she said. “I just wish more girls would do surfing.”

A cleanup operation on a beach covered in nurdles in May

But having persisted at the insistence of the other women, Kaneshlingam said that surfing had given her a new lease of life. “It was my children who came and pushed me on to waves,” she said. “After my husband died I was very sad and things were very difficult, but with surfing, it made me feel happy again.”

Ammu Anadarasa, 14, one of the club’s youngest members, said she had been mercilessly teased at school. “My friends at school used to fight with me about it, they’d say ‘Why are you doing surfing?’ and call me a boy,” she said. But when she showed her friends photos in a local newspaper of her surfing, they were impressed. “Now they know I am a good surfer,” she said. “I just wish more girls would do surfing.”

Most of the women said they had learned to brush off the criticism, and had seen their husbands, family members and communities won over. Mona Nadya Pulanthiram, 35, a mother of two, had been terrified of the sea after her mother died in the 2004 tsunami that devastated Sri Lanka. But after giving birth to her second child, friends persuaded her to give surfing a try, and she was amazed to feel her fear gradually disappear. Now she’s regularly out chasing the big waves, sometimes with her daughter in tow.

“People are always questioning my husband, asking why I don’t just stay at home and be a quiet, nice mum,” she said. “To those people I say: I am already a mum, surfing does not change that. When I am in the ocean, I don’t think about anything except catching the perfect wave.”

For Sanjaya, her greatest triumph was winning her brother’s approval. At Main Point, where waves are often two metres high, the pair can often be spotted out surfing together.

ost of the women said they had learned to brush off the criticism, and had seen their husbands, family members and communities won over. Mona Nadya Pulanthiram, 35, a mother of two, had been terrified of the sea after her mother died in the 2004 tsunami that devastated Sri Lanka. But after giving birth to her second child, friends persuaded her to give surfing a try, and she was amazed to feel her fear gradually disappear. Now she’s regularly out chasing the big waves, sometimes with her daughter in tow.

“People are always questioning my husband, asking why I don’t just stay at home and be a quiet, nice mum,” she said. “To those people I say: I am already a mum, surfing does not change that. When I am in the ocean, I don’t think about anything except catching the perfect wave.”

For Sanjaya, her greatest triumph was winning her brother’s approval. At Main Point, where waves are often two metres high, the pair can often be spotted out surfing together.


Food and lodging to stranded Ukrainians

By Easwaran Rutnam  

There is an outpouring of support for Ukrainians stranded in Sri Lanka, with free accommodation and food being offered by several Sri Lankans and others. 

Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga told Daily Mirror that the Cabinet will decide today if to offer free visa extensions for the stranded Ukrainians or if they will need to pay a fee.

Ukrainians stranded in Sri Lanka as a result of the invasion of their country by Russian troops, have appealed for lodging until the fighting ends and flights to Ukraine resume.

The Danish Villa in Arugam Bay has also posted a message offering free accommodation to all stranded Ukrainians in Sri Lanka.

Several individuals around the country have also posted messages on Facebook offering food and lodging to Ukrainians stranded in Sri Lanka.

When contacted by Daily Mirror, Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said that the Government has so far not decided on offering accommodation to the stranded Ukrainians.


Power to .. the People

Spare Tourism Zones from power cuts – Progressive Hon. Minister

Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga has appealed to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to spare Tourism Zones across the county from the daily countrywide power outages.

The Minister said that power cuts may risk the revival of tourism in Sri Lanka during this peak winter season, just as tourists have begun to return since the pandemic. The Minister has appealed to the President to consider many requests made by stakeholders in the industry to spare all Tourism Zones from the scheduled power cuts.

He said that Solar Power, Wind and Hydro Power Generation Projects Development State Minister Duminda Dissanayake who attended the last Cabinet meeting in the absence of the Power and Energy Minister Gamini Lokuge had agreed to discuss this matter with the Ceylon Electrify Board and to take further actions.

There are sixteen tourism zones including Nilaveli, Madhu river,
Arugam Bay,
Trincomalee, Kalkudah, Pinnawala, Dedduwa, Bentota, Kuchchaveli, Kalpitiya, Unawatuna, Negombo, Beruwala, Mount Lavinia, Yala and Ella in Sri Lanka at present and possibilities are seeking at least to spare theses zone from the daily power cuts,” the Minister added.

Lahugala and bold leopards

Lahugala is just 25km due West of AbaY

BY H A I Katugaha

One morning in the 1950’s we had gone across into Yala Block 2 and our destination was Walaskema in search of the famous crossed tusker, so named because of the crossing of the tusks in front. We had Block 2 all to ourselves. Parking the jeep, we began our walk to Walaskema. There were four of us in the party, namely Uncle Sam, Upali, our tracker and myself.

We saw a leopard sitting under a tree. He got up and started walking towards us. This was most unusual. We shouted at him but he took no notice at all. He growled at us and kept getting closer. Shouting at him we walked backwards and even threw stones at him. One thrown by the tracker hit him on his head, but he kept on coming.

Having reached the jeep, Upali raced the engine and sped towards him. The leopard then ran off into the jungle. Leopards usually run off at the sight of man, and the difficulty is to get close to one. Uncle Sam was of the opinion that this one may well have been used to humans since the Kataragama pilgrims passed this way every year. Maybe he even had a taste of human flesh by eating the corpse of a pilgrim that had died during the walk across Kumbukkan Oya to Menik Ganga. It was a large male animal in the prime of his life.

We reached Walaskema, which was a water-hole, and though we waited till evening the famous tusker did not come to drink water. On our way back we did see a herd of elephants across the Pilinnawa plains.

Years later while camping out at Kosgasmankada in Yala Block 1, one night I noticed some movement under one of the lanterns that we had hung around the camp to keep animals away. Using my torch I discovered that it was a leopard that sat right under the lantern and watched our camp. Soon several torches were focused on it and we had a good look at this fine male leopard. One member of our party then turned the vehicle and put on the headlights. There he was in all his glory watching us with apparent delight.

Next morning we reported this unusual behavior to the park office and were told that this was a bold leopard that had even attacked a labourer attached to the department while walking along at the campsite. The rule is that a leopard will run off at the sight of man unless man has wounded him. It is always best to remember that there are exceptions to every rule.

Land of the gentle giants

At dawn, in the early 1960’s, I lay stretched out on a mat in the verandah of the old Irrigation Department bungalow at Lahugala. A regular swish-swish close by informed me that an elephant, perhaps two, were feeding on the luscious beru grass close to the sluice. It was still very dark. The first vocalists for the morning were a pair of magpies. Their whistling calls were welcome indeed. Next a shama gave vent to his repertoire of vocal renderings. Then the pair of brown fish owls that was always to be found near the sluice finished their serenade with a short burst of hoo hoo.

As darkness gave way to light that misty morning, I watched the dark shape of an elephant slowly moving up to the rock in front of the bungalow. He stood still, probably enjoying the cool breeze that was blowing across the tank. After about 15 minutes he came down and walked towards the well.

Sammy, the Department’s watcher at the bungalow, kindly brought me a hot cup of tea and whispered, “Sir, be careful when you go for a wash, there is an elephant by the well.” I thanked him for his concern.

By the time my friends and I finished our tea, the elephant left the well and moved off into the jungle to our right. We could now see that there were two elephants feeding by the sluice. About 7 am they slowly walked up the bend of the tank and faded away to the left of us.

Across the tank, felled logs of the majestic trees that they once were, stood out in the early morning sun. It happened to be the depot of the State Timber Corporation and quite an eyesore in such a wonderful setting. Birds that were resting by the tank, such as painted storks, pelicans, teal, open-billed storks and a few white-necked storks, took off to look for breakfast. Four adjutant storks began their stately walk in search of food.

It was a typical morning at Lahugala. As we walked up to the rock a solitary pied kingfisher hovered momentarily, dived and came up with a fish. He flew to his perch, flicked the fish up and expertly swallowed it head first. The purple herons and the coots were active in the grass, while the beautiful jacanas were flitting over the lotus leaves looking for food.

Lahugala was then only a forest reserve and not a national park. The tank was managed by the Irrigation Department and Sammy was its watcher that looked after the sluice. Later Lahugala became an elephant reserve. Elephants were the chief attraction and they were to be seen throughout the year, but during the dry season from July to September, they congregated in large numbers. During this period, the herds gathered here for water and for the beru grass that they loved so much. There was always a resident population of elephants numbering about twenty. It was not till the 1970’s that it finally became a national park. Though it was only five square miles in extent it was a haven for elephants.

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Best Surf : AbaY!


This is what makes Sri Lanka a perfect exotic tropical paradise

Sri Lanka, with its gorgeous palm-fringed beaches, verdant jungles, towering mountains, ancient temples and several UNESCO World Heritage sites, makes for a perfect tropical paradise. Shaped like a teardrop, this pretty island nation enjoys 8 hours of sunshine almost every day! Those looking for their next beach destination for holidays, Sri Lanka is the best place to be for them!

Let’s checkout the reasons that make Sri Lanka a perfect tropical paradise

Arugam Bay, a surfer’s heaven

This is the best spot for surfing in Sri Lanka. Surfers from across the globe visit Arugam Bay to enjoy and practice surfing. This beautiful and secluded beach is home to some lovely guesthouses, where people can stay and relax. The lush green countryside is packed with national parks and mangroves.

The above is an East Coast related extract from this original article:

20 Year Anniversary
Launched and first published in 2002.
This page has been online ever since.
Happy Anniversary,!

100% Privately funded – without any donations or support.
This page is the very first Tourist Information web site Sri Lanka ever had.
During the past few days we encountered an unforeseen issue and our sites went off line.
Hosting, web space etc. has to be paid abroad – and our few Sri Lankan Rupees are no longer valuable to be changed into Euro it seems.
Therefore we are a bit stuck and ask for the advice or assistance herewith.
Also, the creator of this page is 72+ now.
And we are looking for a new, more dynamic and modern
Web Master /Web Mistress or administrator.
Please respond by email to:
What’s Up:

Kumana Park – Today –

Kumana National Park.
Is also Known as 
Yala East.
It’s just South of AbaY and  totally unspoiled.
Still a true Paradise.

Today dear Mr. HANSA spotted Leopards and took a lot of photos.
Here are just three of them.

Mid November 2022

Through the wilds of Kumana

A visit to the East is not complete without a trip to Kumana. Enter the solitude of the wilderness where the untamed reign, remember that you are only a guest on a brief visit.

Before we left Okanda, we visited the famed Ukanthamalai Murugan Kovil also called Okanda Devalaya, dedicated to God Murugan and Valli Amma, and lying on a massive rock boulder just outside the main entrance of the Kumana National Park, which we featured in the Sunday Observer last week.

Nestled in the South-East coast of the Eastern Province, 12km from Arugam Bay and spanning an area of 18,149 hectares, the Kumana National Park is well known as an important bird nesting and breeding ground in the country.

Our regular trip to Kumana occurs every year not really during the ‘season’. This time, however, the visit was not only to see the animals, but also to venture along untrodden tracks to discover hidden wonders of the ancient civilisation dotted here and there in the jungle. However, last year, we couldn’t visit the park due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Galamuna campsite

In the previous trips, we visited several ancient places, but left out a few sites which were inaccessible due to damaged tracks in the park. This time, we intended to see many of the sites that were left out previously. Every time we went into the jungles, we stayed in the park bungalows. But this time, we decided to put up at a campsite as it was more adventurous and chose the Galamuna campsite to spend the night. During our two-day visit, we planned to see a few archaeological sites and spend a few hours in Kumbukkan Oya.

As usual, we entered the Kumana National Park with our guide. We passed the Yoda Lipa and drove further into the jungle. From the well-trodden road, we turned into a side path. The recent rains had washed away the roads, leaving large dips and dives. The jeep skid and slid as we entered the muddy plain.

We did not spot many animals except a couple of hawk eagles on the dried up trees, may be because it was late morning. We had travelled for nearly one hour when our jeep stopped and our guide got down. We had apparently arrival at Kiripokunahela, the first site on our itinerary.

We kept our food parcels under the seats of the jeep and closed the doors, as we had been warned that food left outside would be a happy feast for the monkeys.

There was a footpath leading to a rocky outcrop across the muddy plain, with a massive rock boulder looming over us.

We climbed over the boulder and stepped into the cave. The floor was smooth, perhaps due to sloth bears or leopards seeking refuge in the caves.

The face of the rock massif had grooves etched round it to prevent rain water from flowing into the cave. Under the rock massif, a line of Brahmi inscription carved out of the rock was visible on the rock surface.

Drip-ledged cave

After an hour’s drive across the plains, lagoons and mangrove swamps, we arrived at Bambaragastalawa, a massive rocky boulder with drip-ledged cave.

There was a footpath leading up to the small hillock. Overgrown with green shrubs and with rocks as footholds, we climbed up and passing a thick brick wall, entered a large open cave where we found a resplendent reclining Buddha statue.

From Bambaragastalawa, we set off to our campsite, Galamuna along the Kumbukkan Oya. As we drove along the banks of the Kumbukkan Oya, we came across massive mud holes on the road and survived due to our 4×4 drive. We camped one night on the banks of the Kumbukkan Oya, sleeping under the stars after a hearty meal cooked by our friends.

At Galamuna, one can see a set of huge stones laid across the Kumbukkan Oya. It is said, in ancient times, the villagers of Kumana diverted the waters of the Kumbukkan Oya to irrigate their paddy fields.

The stone dam across the Oya is still visible in Galamuna where the Wildlife Department has set up a campsite for visitors to the park.

On the way to Galamuna, we observed the Kumana village through the Kumana Villu which was dried up due to drought. Nothing much remained of the village except for coconut trees.

The second day we dedicated to see the animals. We first visited the most revered Kuda Kebilitta Devala, lying on the banks of the Kumbukkan Oya.

A small shrine had been built for God Kataragama. The shrine lay without the Kapurala (custodian). We worshipped for blessings and a safe journey. Most visitors to Kumana spend a little time here to get divine blessings from God Kataragama while they tour Kumana.

Wildlife and migratory birds

Kumana is also well known for its wildlife and migratory birds. As we returned to the road it seemed as if the jungle had finally awoken on our second day.

Herds of wild buffaloes dipped in the lagoons, deer seemed to be everywhere, and lonely elephant sprayed water in the water holes. Suddenly, we spotted a crocodile basking in the sun, which retreated quickly into the water on our approach.

We were fortunate to see a rare Black Necked Stork and Painted Storks, Whistling Ducks, Egrets, Godwits, Pelicans, Ibis and many more in their great numbers, creating a picturesque setting.

The Green Bee Eaters were flying everywhere, while Malabar pie hornbills sang rhythmically as they moved from branch to branch on dead branches of the tree tops.

Our attention was suddenly drawn to a massive tusker, which one of our members had spotted and shouted to us to halt. Although we have visited National Parks several times before, it is the first time that we spotted such a big tasker. Though Kumana bears and leopards evaded us, we were happy that we had been able to see many animals during our journey.

As dusk began to fall, we reached the gates, barely making it before the closing time of six along with some fellow nature lovers to bid adieu for yet another exciting adventure.

Sunday Observer 2

Buried glory on the East Coast

Having passed the overgrown lush greenery along Siyabalanduwa to Lahugala on the A4 (Colombo-Batticaloa) Road, we suddenly glimpsed a strange landscape when we passed Sengamuwa. About 10 kilometres beyond Pottuvil, on the A4 Road, we saw a stretch of barren paddy field dotted with small houses and ubiquitous herds of goats and cattle lazily grazing. Most villagers plied the road on bicycle, a popular and cost-effective mode of transport, where fishing and farming are the mainstay.

As we entered the crowded Pottuvil town, mostly populated by Muslims, it reminded me of the swarming dens of Colombo’s slum dwellers. However, the haven of windsurfers, world famous Arugam Bay, lies on the Eastern boundary of Pottuvil. The white sand dunes stood out like immaculate rocks scattered along the sandy coast. For thousands of years, these mighty dunes have protected the land from progressive sea encroachment. Beneath these white sands, lies buried, the glorious past of our heritage.

Our destination is Muhudu Maha Vihara in Arugam Bay at Pottuvil. Continue reading ‘Buried glory on the East Coast’

AbaY is on What’s Up !

Times have changed!
Since this web site was established – the first ever Tourist related one on our island.
About 20 years ago.
Static Web Pages.
And also semi outdated Facebook Pages (like our own “Arugam Surf”) were hugely popular earlier. But  are less exciting and less relevant these days

Because they are not updated regularly.

As a result, Arugam Bay has moved on.
And is now very well presented on
Below is a mini Directory almost daily updated Groups.
We invite you to Join us!
Just use the links provided, if any (or all) are of interest to you!

AbaY Tourist Self Help Group

AbaY Restaurants / Delivery

AbaY Chat & Humor

AbaY Amazing Offers

AbaY NOW-Live Events only

AbaY Debtor List

AbaY Events, Parties etc.

AbaY Surf & Sports News

Other Groups and pages will be added.
Some of the above are moderated.
Others are FREE for everyone to post & Publish – anything



SCOTT & LILA – S. L. Music Video

Everyone in the remote Bay of Arugam
Remembers fondly this amazing Duo!
They performend nearly every night in various AbaY Establishments.
And delighted audiences specially in the 
Old Siam View Music Pub. 

Here is their new music release.
Thank you so much for your help!

Hi everyone, we would like to share a new song and music video of our duo SCOTT & LILA
“Told You Once” Music Video in Sri Lanka
Simple Link:
Follow those two awesome, talented Musicians Here:
Hope you enjoy, and thank you all for the support

Sponsor a Beach Clean Up!

Sponsor a beach Clean Up

Waste Less AbaY

May Day!

Relocate to sunny Arugam Bay NOW!

The main Surf and holiday season has just begun.
And as there are indications of travel restrictions:
We strongly advise anyone to travel across NOW.
Otherwise you might remain stuck in the South, West or North.

Arugam Bay has been VERY lucky and most fortunate that not even One single C-19 case was ever confirmed.
And also our shops and restaurants remained open throughout.

Let’s keep AbaY safe & Secure – but also enjoy the unparalleled freedom this remote Enclave offers.

Seriously Now: S.L. is open for Visitors !

We are Happy to report and confirm that the progressive Government has relaxed rules for Tourists and Visitors with immediate effect.
The graph below essentially says it all.

This is for Real and an ideal summer time to visit and surf in glorious Arugam Bay!

“ASQ” in AbaY ! – From 1st. April

2021 High Season, Arugam Bay!

Hello Yellow Again!
“Safe & Secure”

In order to revive the badly damaged tourist industry wise authorities have announced sweeping plans to assist all Tourist Board approved  enterprises.

Just in time for the East Coast Main Season, as from the 1st. April the entire Arugam Bay area has been declared to be a designated Tourist Quarantine Bubble. Also known as ASQ.

Below is a summary of the main innovations and concessions:

  1. Tourists must land at designated Mattala Rajapaksa Airport
    It’s just just 2 hours from AbaY
  2. No stops allowed on route to AbaY
    It’s just just 2 hours from AbaY
  3. The Military will re-establish the Old Bridge Control Point
    a. Between the Muslim town of PottuVille and AbaY
    b. The only way in or out of our remote resort = Safe & Secure!
  4. All passengers will be tested and checked in at this point
    a. PHI – Public Health inspectors from PottuVille will attend
    b. PHI – PS| They done an outstanding, excellent job in this area. Not one single C-19 case here!
    c. If negative: FREE entry to the AbaY region will be granted
  5. Tourists are then welcome to stay in ANY establishment in the Bay
  6. Tourists and surfers can freely move around and socialize at any time
  7. No Masks or Muzzles requirement will be enforced
    = As this realistically can not be monitored in a Surf, Fishing and Farming  Community anyhow
  8. To boost Tourism even further
    a. Liquor Licenses will be issued automatically. Free of charge
    b. Duty free shops will be opened in the Bay itself. Unlimited purchases for foreigners!
    c. Parties and events will be allowed at all times. No permits required
    d. Visas are offered to all suitable and interested  surfers and Visitors until end 2021
    e. Special Seasonal East Coast Beer will be supplied. At discount prices.
    f. To create worldwide attention and act as FREE a global promotion:
    g. The Old CORONA is Out – Caruna Extra  is Inn !
    see link below

    Traditional East Coast Beer

    New Non Lion Beer launched just for Arugam Bay (2010)

A small technical irritation needs to be resolved.
That is what to do when visitors eventually – if or when after a year or so – they decide to leave glorious Arugam Bay?
Departing back to their homeland, once tested negative (for C-19..;-) presents no issues.
But what to do if they wish to remain in Sri Lanka, or are Nationals of this amazing Nation:
A quarantine period of 14 days in …Colombia might be unavoidable 😉

Paul. Topps it. In AbaY

Russian karaoke singer, a book launch, wine tasting and the tattooed man: The Whinging Pome at the Arugam Bay

Jezzabel and I set off at 8 AM from Colombo and expect a six-hour journey to get to Arugam Bay on the east coast of Sri Lanka but with non-stop driving. I know it won’t be six hours even though Jezzabel has packed enough egg sandwiches for a full day family bus trip.
Our Muslim driver Neaz is not a “speedy Gonzales” but we must thank god it’s not a Friday with prayer stops. We get on the expressway, heading south till it finishes, then take a short dual carriageway, then a fast empty road to our destination, The scenery is changing from arid areas to a green lush landscape with lakes, lagoons, and stunning views. With these changes come the herds of goats, then buffaloes walking in the water, back to herds of thin white cattle that remind me of cows I’ve seen in parts of India. In the middle of nowhere, the road is so straight and the trees are planted at uniform spaces, creating a guard of honour for the passing traveller. It reminds me of France with plantain trees which were said to give assistance to Napoleon’s troops moving in difficult weather conditions. These trees today are thought to be responsible in some way for one in eight road accidents in France.

We are finally in the village of Pottuvil, taking sharp rights and lefts through shanty houses in a strong Muslim area, then to Jetwing Surf, which is ten minutes from the more famous Aragum Bay. You can’t surf in front of this hotel as it’s too rocky and rough, and I ask the manager “so where do I surf?” Looking me up and down with some doubt about my surfing profile he says “a few minutes away.”

Whenever anyone uses the phrase “a few minutes away”, I’m always sceptical. In India, this can mean an hour.

“Is this running, walking or driving?“ I retort.

We don’t get to the recommended beach but in fact, some people rank this area as one of the best surfing locations in Asia during May to September, along with other locations of some fame such as Whiskey Point, Crocodile Rock and Elephant rock.

This is a very modern beach hotel with a funky reception area, a collection of circular chalets, and an open dining area overlooking a curved pool and the sea. The chalets are large and extremely well designed with lots of space, a big bed and a chilled outdoor bathroom.

The criticism we had heard of the hotel prior was that there is no air conditioning. As I pass the back office of the reception I see a mobile aircon unit and it’s not long before it’s in our chalet, with three fixed fans on full blast. My princess, Jezzabel likes a room ice cold when she gets to bed. I generally have to extensively cover myself as its too cold for a white boy from Africa. It’s good that we are all different but our different requirements for bedroom temperature generally results in me having less sleep and constant phlegm. Too much detail you may say, but bedroom temperature disputes amongst couples are more common than you think.

It’s a long weekend in Arugam Bay and likely the last of the season. Those who are here are from Colombo to enjoy the beach and party, or others who have just forgotten to go home. Some belong in the “unwashed” category. The last time I was here was two weeks before the Tsunami in December 2004. I recall staying at the Stardust hotel and canoeing along the river. Sadly the hotel and the town were hit quite hard by the Tsunami, both losing lives. The town is now a thriving tourist location, though given it’s post-COVID, it’s hard to spot many foreign tourists. Those that are here have likely exceeded their visa period and have no desire to go back to their home countries, which are still being hit hard by the COVID phase two.

Jezzabel is off to the “Hideaway”, one of the few larger hotels in the town. She is meeting girlfriends and to listen to their local heart-throb. Actually, Jerome is a Sri Lankan Aussie as is my wife. I’m off to Siam View, an institution here in the town and well known across the island to all who have visited A-Bay, as some call it. Fred, the owner has been in Sri Lanka for over 35 years, gives me a warm greeting. I’ve known him for twenty years. Fred has had a colourful life with a Maltese/ German background but always comes over as a carefree Englishman, with ten or more kids, I’m not sure he knows the exact number. His Thai wife is a really lovely lady who always has a beaming smile and a friendly greeting. His property was hit by the tsunami but Fred bounced back into business very quickly. It is the go-to place, everyone meets there and there is never a dull moment with music, musicians, karaoke etc.

At Fred’s place, I encounter a rather opinionated and overweight Ex British navy chap who says he is a secret squirrel working for the British Government, tracking undesirable Sri Lankan’s who are trying to get into the UK illegally. Exiting from the conversation as quickly as I could without being extremely rude I meet up with some friends.

Amazingly I find a wine I’ve never seen before, a Malbec blended with Pinotage, a great wine for the price. When I get the bill for the wine there is some mix-up, and the barman/waiter seems to have over-charged me. He is so laid back, he is nearly horizontal, and a few sharp words follow. We will meet again tomorrow.

Night two and its the launch of my book on the east side of Sri Lanka, “The Whinging Pome – To The Point.” The venue is Fred’s place, Siam house.
I check if all my wines are here where I left them the night before, in the fridge. They are all there and I explain to the barman how the night will flow and what his role will be. It is 7.30 PM and my guests are meant to all be here. I ask Fred for the list of attendees, and he gives me some 36 names. I ask how many have confirmed, and he tells me none, which he says is typical of the folk in A-Bay. At eight my first attendee arrives. She is a Russian karaoke singer in a short white dress who tells me she sings every night at the place. My second attendee, or so I thought, is a partially clothed white man who tells me his body is tatted from head to toe. Turns out he works part-time at Fred’s place.
Its 8.30 PM and as Fred had promised a crowd has arrived. A bigger issue for me then became the fact that the barman had gone AWOL, turns out he didn’t like my comments from the night before had walked off the job. At 8.30 PM I’m sharing the podium with the Russian whose dress only just covers her boobs, the tatted man whom I think believes he is a rockstar, my book display and a set of drums.

It’s my first book launch/wine tasting where I’m pouring the wine, serving it, and talk at the same time.

The Whinging Pome’s Random Rule No 185: Learn how to multitask. Prove the ladies wrong, men can do it!

Despite the chaos, I sell about 15 books, 5 to the local MP’s son. Not sure if he was sober. If he was then no doubt he would want them for free. A bunch of airline pilots who have just had their employment contract cancelled are hitting the wine. We have now over fifteen nationalities at the event. In between all of this I need to get the next wine out.

The Russian lady in white is bashing out a Russian song. By ten-thirty the numbers have swelled to beyond sixty people. I’ve got a deaf, out of tempo chap on the drums and the Russian lady giving it her all whilst trying to keep everything in her dress. The night continues with more book signings and characters now believing they are at a full Karaoke event grabbing the mike, whilst random people think they are Ginger Baker, the drummer of the bands Cream, Blind Faith, Hawkwind and more.

This I think is a new book launch concept; Books, Ballards, Booze, Boobs.

The next day we have the opportunity to visit the Kumana National Park but I’m keener to enjoy the beach and visit a few temples than visiting a bird sanctuary. It’s also about thirty kilometres from the hotel and my beach is in front of me and my first temple which is dated at 2nd BC is 4 kilometres away. The location is on a very wide beach, and its hist is linked to Princess Devi being washed up at the location and some monastery being built. This is the third location in Sri Lanka where this same story is set.

Wifey finds some friends who are staying close by in another hotel and they take a Jeep and head to the park. Jokingly on their return, I make a jibe about “how were the birds?”. I’m bombarded with how great their safari was. This included sightings of two different leopards, an elephant charging their Jeep, and lots of other non-bird species.

So it’s another day, another road, and we are heading to Batticaloa. I don’t think this town is ready for The Whinging Pome but actually, after the Arugam Bay experience, anything and everything is possible.