Wenu’s silhoutte on Unawatuna Beach, near UBR. Full Gallery
Just got back from a lovely house in Galle Fort which is, verily, an architectural marvel. Pictured above is Wenu who is also, verily, an architectural marvel. Fort is remarkable because one, the thick walls completely insulated it from the Tsunami and two, it is an enclosed pentagon that looks like something you’d terraform in SimCity. The nationalists also made a fuss about land being sold to foreigners, so it’s now a semi-permanent cultural bubble. The houses and land are incredible, but the place looks almost like a decaying ghost town with Muslim calls to prayer wafting around. The place we were staying opened from the narrow street onto rooms upon rooms, with wings I still haven’t discovered. Galle is just a short hop from Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna, so you can spend the day at the beach, return to Fort to nap, start drinking at 7 and go back out again. This is a pastiche of three days.
The Fort is mainly for sleeping, eating and drinking, shaking sand out of your jeans and playing tap rugger on the lawn. The house has bedrooms like barracks, with room for I-don’t-know-how-many people. In the morning they stream sleepily into the sitting room, eating kiribath in the kitchen. There’s an ancient swinging couch under portraits of the family that built the place. It hung precariously from two hooks until Bertie broke it and, admirably, fixed it into better shape the next day. The day is just too hot and people sit around reading day old papers and talking about acquaintences. There are like 20 people there so I’m unclear as to how decisions get made, but occassionally an impulse to visit the beach or find some food will ripple through and everyone bundles into cars.
Take the fork right out of Fort and you’ll reach Unawatuna, specifically, Unawatuna Beach Resort (UBR). There you can get a table under the awning of a pizza joint, place your Cokes on the incline and watch them slide towards the sand. Every now and then an ambitious wave comes in and sweeps everyone’s flip-flops off to sea. The water is bluer and more delicious than anything I’ve ever seen on the West Coast. Looks like Jello or something, positively edible. April is a murderous month for heat, but the water is cool and you can just bob around for a while. Get out, order some pizza and Coca-Cola, maybe a beer. It’s not an unpleasant place to be. My favorite images from Unawhat are the silhouttes of Wenu.
I think the Peace Pagoda is to the right fork, but regardless, there’s a Pagoda with a private beach underneath. More inteprid souls got up early to go snorkeling, seeing clownfish and other stuff I wouldn’t know because it’s not in Finding Nemo. The beach is private in the sense that no resort owns it and tons of people show up, kids screaming and drinking seawater through tubes and odd things. Some local Johnny and his buxom bird show up with rice packets and a bottle of arrack. The water is darker and more fresh looking in this bay. I pick up a few pieces of coral with my feet. There’s an abandoned foundation for an improbable building, struts jutting out into the water. Mendis goes and stands on one of them, looks down below.
Mendis Pondering His Fate
Return to Fort, shower, sleep, leave a pile of sand in the bathroom. People cool off in the garden under the hose, a bunch of beached brown whales in swimming trunks. Someone inevitably gets depantsed and I’ve seen my first penis of the New Year. The day is too hot for sustained consciousness though – just try to nod out until drinking time. People get up slowly and trickle into the common room, slowly uniting in purpose around hunger and inebriation. There’s Gin and Tonic and ever-melting supplies of ice. Arrack, maybe a bottle of Scotch. Someone gets the idea to go to Hicks, which is shape shape. Boycy plays the new Iraj song in the car.
Wenu blur at Roti joint
Get some eat at a roadside Roti cafe, run by a rotund bellied Johnson and improbable sudha woman. Coordinating an order takes time, but I get my tomato-onion-cheese roti with spicy hodi and it slices quite fine. Drink lukewarm cokes, which are somewhat unsatisfying, albeit pictureseque. The food arrives in waves, serving a few more people each time. The last aftershock is four or five cuttlefish-cheese rotis which no one really has the appetite for. Thinking about it now, I do. Desert is chocolate banana roti, and then it’s off to Why Not for a beach party.
Dance Floor at Why Not
Beach parties are something new to Colombo, but they’re de rigeur at Hikkaduwa. The place has its own thriving infrastructure of Beach Boys, bars, eateries, and drug dealers – suckling at the literal teat that is tourism. The Beach Boys are easily identified in their colored shorts, no shirts and flowing black hair. They’re blackened by the sun into walking pectorals with eyes and teeth, there to service the tourist birds in their own little monopoly. I’ve heard that anyone trying to pull a foreign bird will get their ass beat, and at this point I believe the stories. There are some absolutely stunning Germans and Brits in bikinis and what, but I try not to even look. Order a bottle of Gin, some cokes and lean on the railing. Run into Asvajit, looking like a Burgher Beach Boy. He tells me I just missed Electra the day before.
Someone passes some, shall we say, Avurudu brownies in tupperwear, the gin kicks in and the music is incredible. Think they played Leftfield, some technoesque stuff. The dance floor is packed with shirtless men at this point, but its a girl (.friend) who drags me out there. I actually like the music (for once), until they inexplicably play ‘Summer of 69’. Why God, why. Get back in the car feeling freaking great.
Next morning I hear an incredible story. Apparently one otherwise Respectable Young Man in our party offered a fit tourist bird a ride back to her resthouse. Somewhere along the way he got head and when he dropped her off the girl folded a thousand rupee note into his hand. Apparently Mem Sahib had mistaken our RYM for a Beach Boy and paid for the pleasure. For that 15 minutes his friends will give him no end of shit. He is not pictured anywhere, FYI.
Shernal Drinking Thamili With Arrack
I think Avurudu occured somewhere here, there were some cakes at one point. Spend another day at the beach, getting shit service at this Cormorant place and walking out after the Thamili. Arrack and King Coconut is an A-OK drink, regardless. Head back to UBR, positively ravenous, standing over the cook as he makes pizzas. I’ve reshuffled the nights and days, but lets say that night stayed in Unawhat for this mediocre party, which I personally made worse by drinking too much and wigging out on a girl I have an annoying, neurotic and one-time sweaty history with. I seem to involuntarily destroy that relationship on a regular basis, probably for my self-preservation. Like a Mildred, Somerset Maughamesque. And that is all about that. The Hikkaduwa party was much better, though the second portrait of Wenu below is, IMHO, worth it.
Wenu Out Of Focus, Boycy Holding Razr
Too much inertia to leave the Fort on Saturday. Spend the day beached, the afternoon sleeping. Running out of booze, but the bottom of the Smirnoff is there; dribbles of arrack and shards of ice. The plan is to stay in but there’s a foraging party heading out to Hiks for eats. Unfortunate for the ones left in the house, we decide to sit down at Refresh. I’m not very hungry and my Kankun and Beef arrives very late, sans rice. I pick at it and eat some ice cream. Around midnight the fuming house-bodies get their roti delivery, though they’re entertaining some girls and don’t seem to overmind. There was one girl that everyone raved about, but I suspect that she’s engaged. Another one asked about my accent and I told her it was Cockney. She believed me.
Later that evening Boycy called a Board Meeting and everyone proceeded to tell the most riotious and embarrasing stories I have ever heard around a game of ‘I Have Never’. I had to drink when Mendoza said ‘I have never slept in a girls room without her knowing’, which sounds much more sketchy than it was. She knew I was there at one point, then we both fell asleep under the agreement that I would leave. I woke up at 5, bumped into her mother and ran away. Just to clarify. Other stories are much worse, however, and people have taken bogs in places that I never thought possible.
All in all, an amazing Avurudu. Great places for one, but more than anything lovely and hospitable people. I have a debilitating case of lazy that prevents most travel, but this I truly enjoyed. Oh and please note that despite the fawning portraits of Wenu she’s just an beautiful person to photograph and that’s all.