Hikkadura, Sri Lanka: scuba diving, beaches and motorbikes

img_20161218_110954With my alarm screaming, I rose from my bed, had a shower and headed out of the hostel with my bags on my back. I took a tuk tuk to the train station and purchased a ticket to Hikkadura. The station was huge. I waited for my train, which I nearly missed as a train had arrived at the my platform.  I thought it was the previous train but then it didn’t leave. There were no signs on the platform to say the train schedule. In the end, I asked someone and found out it was the train I needed to get on. I hopped on just as it was about to leave. img_20161216_092458As I was one of the last to get on the train, there were no seats so I sat on the floor by the open doors. The view was beautiful of the sea as I rode down the coast. The train just got more and more packed the further the train went. The journey was about two and a half hours.

At Hikkadura station, I disembarked and walked to the hostel with my large backpack in the scorching heat.  I checked in with lovely ladies who own the place and then went out for a wander. One of the reason I chose to come to Hikkadura was because it’s meant to be a popular town for Scuba Diving. My first port of call was to find a Scuba Diving Centre to book a trip for the following day.img_20161216_124234

I walked along the main strip, where I found several shop. I asked about the dive sites, price and gear at each one and decided to go for the first one as the reviews online were extremely positive.

After I found a café to purchase some food as I was hungry. I ordered an iced coffee, which tasted awful, and an omelette. Then I strolled along the beautiful, admiring the view with golden sand filing through my toes. I sat and sunbathed for a couple of hours whilst intermittingly swimming in the cool ocean. The sun was blazing with heights of over 30 degrees Celsius.DCIM119GOPRO

Late afternoon, I carried on mooching along the beach until the end, where there was a turtle swimming the sea, extremely close to the shore. There were crowds of people surrounding it but I managed to get a glance of it. A Sri Lanka guy started talking to me, finding a little bit about me and trying to convince me to eat at his beach restaurant. He showed me where it was and I had a look at the menu but declined. I found the supermarket, where I bought some snack and an ice cream.img_20161216_161045

As I was window shopping, I came across several massage sign that caught my eye. That’s exactly what I felt like especially as I haven’t had one since The Philippines. I was just going to go for a half hour but in the end as it wasn’t much more, I decided to have an hour full body massage. A lady did the massage, covering my body in oil. It was super good but she spent a lot of time on my legs, arms and head and no so much on my neck, back and shoulders. At times the pressure wasn’t firm enough for my liking. I think I’m always going to compare any massage with massages in Thailand.img_20161216_124505

After the hour of relaxation, I headed back to the hostel. I chilled outside, where, slowly, the area got filled up with other travelled. We chatted and listened to music until it was time to eat some food. The hostel made homemade Sri Lankan food for a small price which consisted of jackfruit curry, lentils, other vegetables, fish curry and rice. It was delicious.

The Uzbekistan guy turned up at my hostel in the afternoon for me to help him with his English. It was a little weird but there were other backpackers around so I felt safe.DCIM120GOPRO

Some of us went up to the shop up the road to buy some beers. We stayed at the hostel for a while, debating whether to go out of not. In the end, some of the group left early to go to the club whilst I stayed put for a bit longer.

When we were ready, we got a tuk tuk to the club. The club was huge with a dance floor, pool tables, outside area and a pool. Somehow, the others arrived later than us. It was dead at first but it soon filled up. There were also men with scary masks on dancing around, which I later found out was for a parade and celebration happening the next day.DCIM121GOPRO

For most of the night, we just danced. I did drink much as I was diving the next day. On the dance floor, a guy kept chatting up my friend and I even after telling him we were interested. It was hilarious. Also, the owner of the partner hostel was dancing with us, which was a lot of fun.

At the early hours of the morning, we got a ride back to the hostel before collapsing into my bed. It was such a great night.

The next morning, I had to get up around 7 to ensure I was all ready for the day’s activities. I had a shower and got dressed before waiting for the complimentary breakfast. I had fried eggs and salad toasted sandwich, fruit and tea.DCIM119GOPRO

Once I arrived at the Scuba Diving shop, I filled in the standard forms and gathered my gear with the help of the staff. Even though I had only been diving 3 months previously, I forgot how to set up the equipment but with the guidance of one diver, I managed it. I sat, waiting for the briefing meeting. We were told the itinerary for the day, our diving partner and which dive site we were going to. I was so excited as I was going to be doing a wreck dive, which as a new diver I shouldn’t do but I’ve done quite few things while diving that technically I’m not trained to do. I was partner with a French girl, who had done a similar number to dives as me. My aim for these dives was to improve my buoyancy.

We carried our gear onto the boat then set off, out into the deep ocean. The sun was out and I was topping up my tan as we were driven to our first dive spot. There was eight of us diving plus the dive masters; two from Iran, one from Denmark, one Germany, one from Australia, one from Sri Lanka, the French girl plus myself.img_20161217_091040

In no time, we arrived at S. S. Conch, where we chucked on our equipment and did our buddy checks. With my googles  and BCD on, I stepped in to the water and swam to the front of the boat. When the four of us were ready to go with our dive master, we expelled the air and gradually started sinking, holding on to the rope.

We dived for about 50 minutes, roaming around at 20 metres near the wreak. There was some coral but most of it had been damaged in the Tsunami, which happened a few years back. We explored the wreck, swimming under and through holes, where there were schools of large fish. Throughout the dive, I saw angel fish, a tiny octopus, snappers, sweetleaves, nudibranch and nemos.  It was just so cool.DCIM121GOPRO

When some of us were close to consuming our air, we floated to the top, stopping at the 5 metre mark for a 3 minute safety stop. We climbed back on to the boat, where everyone else was waiting for us. I was feeling a little cold at first but soon warmed up in the sun. We swam in the ocean for a bit before driving to our next dive site not too far away.

When we had enough time above water, we geared up again and hopped into the water. Like the previous procedure, we were soon under the water about 14 metres. This was another wreck but on sand so there was no coral to see but loads of sea creatures including porcupine fish, nemos, angel fish and barracudas.img_20161218_114143

It was amazing bobbing along the water with quite a strong current but this time we just swam around the sunken boat. I just love diving and my buoyancy is definitely improve. Not perfect but I will get there.

The time under the water went quickly and we had to resurface the water, again, having a safety stop. When I mounted the boat, I was bursting for the toilet and there’s rarely a toilet on board. I’m not like other people who can literally just go in the sea. I did jump in twice to try but no I couldn’t. We had to wait for two other to come back up, which ended up being about 15 minutes but felt like a lifetime.

We rode back to shore, taking about 30 minutes. I was pacing the boat, clenching my bladder. As soon as the ladder hit the ground, I ran off to the toilet. It was the longest wee in history.DCIM120GOPRO

Feeling a billion times better, I went to help get my equipment off the boat but got told that the guys would do it. After four of us, sat chatting with a cup of tea provided by the dive shop.

As it was mid-afternoon, I was feeling peckish so I found a café not too far from my hostel and ate a cheese crepe. I chilled at my hostel for the rest of the afternoon, talking to those who were around.

Again I had the dinner that was served at the hostel then just drank beers on the patio with some other traveller. One guy decided to buy fireworks, which at first he set off in the garden. However, they the direction they were fired was unpredictable so hit the wall and tree several times. Then he went out in the road to set them off. A security guy tried to light one from his hands and ended up going up the street. It was funny but also extremely dangerous. I was thinking out going out with some of the others but decided against it as I was feeling sleepy. I went to bed leaving the others to carry on partying.img_20161218_105427

The following day, I arose casually, ordering breakfast with the lovely ladies, sitting outside. During the morning, I walked along the main street to hire a motorbike. When I found somewhere that rented one out, they wanted my passport at guarantee and I had forgotten to bring it. Luckily, the guy there was nice enough to drive me back to my hostel to pick it up as it was quite far away.

I was looking to ride a motorbike as I hadn’t ridden one since The Philippines, four month previously. One of my favourite things to do is just riding aimlessly and that what I did. First I filled up the tank then I rode along the main road to Galle. Galle is a bigger town than Hikkadura with more people and more traffic. I followed my instinct around the town, passing shops and coming across Galle fort. I parked up so I could walk along the font on the ocean side, taking some snaps and eating an ice-cream. It was beautiful with boats fishing and people selling fish. I drove around for a while more before heading back to Hikkadura.img_20161218_120812

I consciously made an effort to stop regular to take some picture as there were severally picturesque beaches on the way back. I drove through the countryside along the ocean until getting back. I went to the supermarket to get some snack and then ate at the same café as the previous day. Early afternoon, I returned my bike in exchange of my passport. The women looked at it, showing me some scratches. I had no idea where they had came from or if there were already there. She just overlooked it, which was good because I know I didn’t do them.

I walked back to my hostel to relax for a bit before grabbing my belongings and walking to the train station. I purchased a third class ticket to Colombo as it was cheaper and also there was no guarantee of a seat anyway. While waiting for the train to arrive, an older guy ,who helps with giving people information, came and sat next to me. We talked for a while about each other and Sri Lanka.

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