Beachbumming. Remember? But first, the leisurely breakfast at the Hotel Suisse. A brown version of ‘pittu’ as well as ‘milk rice’, this time with fish curry! The restaurant is a ballroom and you still have the gallery upstairs. I could sense a huge colonial hangover, not because most of the guests seemed Euro and the breakfast had ham and eggs and bacon, (slurp) but because the music, architecture, room decor – everything looked as though the British were expected back at any moment. Later, I realised I could say this of the city as a whole, and even Colombo, but that’s for later.
We passed a highway museum and a bridge that dated back to 1826, and on the way, also saw what looked like a dummy of Sigiriya. This one was apparently called Bible rock, because it looked like a closed book too. Thank God they didn’t have toasters then. But hey, this is one beautiful country, and since its way smaller than India, it scores much higher on the beauty/sq km.
The next stop was the Spice Grove, which grew and sold spices and herbs. We were given a tour by an enthusiastic guide who showed us the source of vanilla, cocoa, cinnamon, pepper, aloe vera, nutmeg and so on. The complimentary herbal tea was amazing. We responded to all the enthusiasm in kind, and cash, since they sold the stuff there too. But it was a very interesting visit indeed.
Further along the way, the guide also told us about a fruit called Duriyan, which when soaked in water overnight turned into gel. The Chinese consider it an aphrodisiac. The Chinese just need an excuse, I think.
We stopped at an outlet called Juiceez on the highway. Now is a good time to say that in lanka highways, except when construction is going on, are amazing, though cops play spoilsport by not allowing to go over 60 kmph.The mango juice craving was laid to rest. We also spotted a poster girl for Farmville. Actually Juiceez is doing a good job by having farms across Sri Lanka, encouraging people to cultivate whatever they can, and serving a neat variety of juices, though the pricing is a tad high.
We finally reached Bentota late in the afternoon. The Bentota Beach Resort is owned by the same group as Chaaya Village, but the latter is a few cuts above. The hotel opened into the public beach, and in the evening, we walked along the beach. The sea on this coast (side) is quite rough at these times, but we had a good time, attempting sand castles shacks and chasing crabs. When we returned, the part of the beach in front of our hotel was getting ready for some ceremony.
At dinner, I finally managed to have that elusive dessert – Watalappan, whose prices had risen from Rs.250 to Rs.350 to Rs.400 as we traveled from Chaaya Village to Suisse to the Bentota Beach Resort. This is why buffets are loved. Pork and desserts competed for our attention, but Watalappan disappointed. For some reason, I had assumed there was chocolate in it, there wasn’t!! Choco Watalappan is being conceptualised as we speak! Hmmph.
After dinner, D went off to see a dance show, while I lazed around watching Jonathan trying to win an immunity in the Celebrity Chef challenge. He didn’t, and D reported that the dance troupe had danced to ‘Kal Ho Na ho’. Bollywood stars are very popular here, and I wondered about the pop culture influence. Not the token premiere in the US type, but ads, music, seeping in and becoming accepted part of daily lives. Our guide’s favourite stars were SRK and the Artist Formerly Known as Kajol, (sorry, can’t recollect the link to that awesome post) and he was quite up to date on Bollywood gossip!! We are finally exporting culture! And we fell asleep with pride.