Our final stop on the grand tour of Sri Lanka was Galle, a historic coastal fort.
Divided into the old town and the new, we spent several hours exploring the old walled fort with its new boutique hotels, cafes and many jewellery shops.
The old Dutch hospital had been developed into shops and restaurants and at the southern point, the original lighthouse stood.
The old fort has been developed for the up market tourist industry and while lovely, doesn’t feel very Sri Lankan.
We sat and watched a group of locals play cricket with dubious curved bats and bowling which looked a lot like throwing as the sun started to go down.
Then we sat high on the walls overlooking the Indian Ocean to watch the sun set.
Heading back out of the main gates, we were back into the real flavour of Sri Lanka; the tuktuks, the buses, the horns blaring, the noise and smells which were missing from the old fort.
Saturday night in Galle was not a place to find food. We assumed most Sri Lankans would eat at home with their families as there was very little food around and so we headed back to our hotel for dinner.
There is breed of dog seemingly unique to Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Hopping Dog.
Everywhere we’ve been we’ve seen dozens of this breed hopping along on three legs usually with a back leg resting as tuktuks, buses and dogs share the hectic roads.
The Hopping Dog doesn’t wear a jaunty tweed bow tie like the Little Welsh Terrier, instead they live on the streets surviving on their wits.
And while we’ve seen lots of dogs resting on the road, we haven’t seen any roadkill, not a single dead animal in Sri Lanka, not even a lizard.
The Buddhist philosophy is strong in Sri Lanka and respect is shown to all living things including the Hopping Dogs.
For two weeks we’ve eaten only Sri Lankan cooking and we’ve loved it.
The main dish is rice and curry and I must have sampled at least thirty varieties of Dahl along the way. How lucky then that it’s one of my favourite foods!
We have been completely alcohol-free for the last two weeks and what a difference it has made. The eyes have cleared and the body detoxed.
We’ve enjoyed buffalo curd and trickle (a light sugar cane treacle). How can you not love something called Trickle?!
We’ve drunk endless cups of fragrant Ceylon tea.
And we haven’t lost a single pound.
Quite the opposite in fact as it seems that the Sri Lankan diet is not exactly slimming but it’s all been extremely delicious so worth it.
Now the challenge will be where to find Sri Lankan cooking in London.
Somehow not the same I suspect.
It was time to have an Ayurvedic massage, a type of holistic medicine popular in Sri Lanka, and so off we went to a nearby beach hotel with a spa hut.
It was fairly basic. Sand floors, rattan walls and not a white towel in sight.
I was assigned to a lady whilst Big T had a man. Off we went for a sixty minute relaxation massage.
It turned out to be a very naked massage. Upon entering the hut my lady gestured that I was to remove all my clothes, not a moment for modesty or a modesty towel in sight.
The massage itself was nice, not deep enough for my liking but relaxing. I drifted into that state of semi consciousness where random thoughts passed through my head.
It was time to turn over and this is where it became the really naked massage.
As I heard later, it was better for me than Big T as he was fully exposed and his privates were inadvertently included in the upper leg massage.
I got off lightly as the only thing I had was the full chest massage, a bit gritty with sand but otherwise a bit like kneading loaves of bread. Not very sexy luckily.
We met up afterwards to discover we had both misheard the price as it was a thousand rupees more each.
In our befuddled states of relaxation we felt we’d been had, luckily in a non sexual way.
We spent four nights along the southern coast of Sri Lanka staying in two different locations.
The first, the Talalla Retreat was a lovely resort comprising individual bungalows with palm roofs, some two storey ocean view rooms, a large pool, secluded beach where local fisherman dragged their nets up at sunrise and sunset and a central pavilion where buffets were served at each meal. Yoga was on offer, food was organic and mostly vegetarian.
The second hotel was in Tangalle, a little more remote, the Serein Beach Hotel was true relaxation.
This time an even more deserted beach where the biggest decision of the day was whether to have a coconut before or after a massage. What a dilemma!
We ate in beachfront restaurants made of palm fronds and driftwood, enjoying the cooling breezes and then swam in the warm green water.
One has to be made of fairly stern stuff to face the Sri Lankan ladies toilets.
The majority of toilets are the stand and squat variety. Often confused with a shower (hold on a second, where’s the loo?) there’s a ceramic foot plate on the ground and a drain of sorts.
Simply stand on the foot plate and squat. Try not to look down and under no circumstances breathe through the nose. Do not touch anything, always roll up one’s trousers and try to avoid wearing good shoes. Easy!
Of course if one isn’t flexible it’s going to be more challenging.
Accompanying the foot plate is a hand held shower head. It seems that toilet paper is not widely used by Sri Lankan ladies, the preferred method being to have a rinse with the shower hence the large puddles of water one has to wade through in the cubicle.
This all goes along with the idea of right hand good, left hand bad when eating which adds to the challenge for a left hander but is good to remember.
And there you have it, Sri Lankan toilet tips for ladies.
Standing on a deserted beach, phone in hand, looking at the myriad of stars above identifying constellations.
Perhaps one of the best pieces of technology the star app or perhaps it was the location.
Either way, star gazing on a tropical beach wasn’t a bad way to spend the evening.