Holiday in Sri Lanka (12): around Trincomalee

Trincomalee is not really what I was expecting. The hotel is not in the city but at a resort and all the other guests are young couples or parents with small children, so there are no cultural options on offer. However, I read about a place nearby called Velgam Vehera and, since Shaleen had decided to stay at the same hotel rather than go home, this morning (Sunday) I paid for him to take me to this place.

The location is the remnants of a Buddhist monastery thought to have been built by King Devanampiya Tissa in the 2nd century which escaped destruction in the Chola invasion in the 10th century. As well as these ruins and a tiny modern shrine, two things attracted my attention.

First, there is a tiny museum – just one room with photographs and a video – about a local attack by the Tamil Tigers at the site in 2000 when 26 Sinhalese soldiers and civilians were killed. Second, I called into a local Buddhist Sunday School and mixed with the teachers and the children.

Back at the hotel, there was a different atmosphere today. At lunchtime a couple of dozen young local Air Force personnel – all male – on some kind of break from an intense course had a beach party, all dressed identically in jeans and Air Force T shirts and dancing to unbelievably loud music. I chatted to a group of four of them: two Sr Lankan (one Sinhalese, one Tamil), one Indian, one Bangladeshi. Their only common language was English and they were all fluent, so we got along well and exchanged contact details.

I spent the rest of the day chilling: eating, drinking, writing, reading, swimming, sleeping. It’s a tough life …


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