We were booked on Air Asia flight AK 1267 to Colombo, scheduled to depart from LCCT at 6.20am. We hardly slept the night before as we had to wake up at 3am for the taxi to LCCT at 4am. We boarded the plane but when the plane was getting ready to leave the docking bay for the runway, the pilot announced that we would be delayed as there was a problem with the hydraulic pump. So all the passengers had to disembark, and waited for further instructions, which turned out to be that we would fly on a new aircraft but we could only depart at 9.30am. Bummer! Oh well, better be late but safe. While waiting, we were given a McDonald Chicken Muffin with a bottle of water each.
We finally arrived at Bandaranaike Airport at 11am, instead of the scheduled 7.15am. After clearing two of our six passports at the immigration counter, the system broke down. Luckily it didn’t take too long for them to fix the problem and we were out from the airport at about 12noon. We were greeted by our driver, Fosan, at the arrival hall, after converting some Sri Lankan rupees at the few money changers at the arrival hall.
Our first stop was for lunch at a local restaurant, where we had rice with several dishes. Thereafter, we started the 2.5hour drive to Bentota, on the south-western coast of the island. Upon arrival at Bentota, we were taken on a boat ride on River Bentota, and saw several water monitor lizards, and a man in a small boat with his baby crocodile.
The highlight was riding through few tangled mangrove swamps, as we cruised through shaded waters beneath huge mangrove roots. It had a rather mysterious & creepy atmosphere all at once :-) Then it was time to get back on shore, so I thought it wasn’t that great and we could have skipped it.
Next we visited one of the turtle hatcheries. Turtle eggs, bought for 10 rupees each from local fishermen, are re-buried in the hatchery. Once hatched, the baby turtles are kept in holding tanks for 1-3 days before being released into the ocean to fend off itself. There were several other tanks where turtles, injured from being entangled in fishermen’s net, would be nursed back to health before being released back into the ocean. There were also two albino turtles, which are being kept permanently, as releasing them into the ocean could make them easy preys for birds and other predatory fishes due to the ease of spotting them.
Playing with "ping pong balls"
Clockwise from top left: Day old baby turtle, more baby turtles, greenback turtle, albino turtle
Turtle hatcheries, with each pile clearly labeled with the number of eggs and the date they were buried
We then drove about one hour to Unawatuna, where we spent the night at Full Moon Resort. For the whole trip, we opted for half-board option at all the hotels, where breakfast and dinner are included in the room rate. We had dinner at the resort’s cosy restaurant by the beach, serving a wide variety of Western and Italian dishes. Food was by far the best we had for the entire trip.