25th May- Unawatuna
Today began in a rush. We realised a little too late that yoga was at 9:30 and breakfast was at 8:30. This resulted in us scoffing down our breakfast and praying that our tuk tuk would arrive on time. Thankfully, not only did our tuk tuk arrive on time but we also ended up reaching before the yoga teacher did.
Breakfast was the same as the first day we arrived- pineapples, watermelon and bananas first, then toast, butter and jam, then the fried eggs. It was just as fulfilling and tasty as the first day. The reason we arrived before the teacher did was because we planned our journey thinking it’d take us a while. Instead it was only five minutes away so we decided to walk back home instead of troubling our driver.
When we arrived we were greeted by a man and woman who worked for the yoga teacher. Later on we found out that they were masseuses. We ended up talking while we waited and just as everyone we encountered in Sri Lanka, they were nice and friendly. They asked us the usual questions most locals asked us. Where we’re from and how long we’re here for.
When they found out we used to live in Dubai just as they did, their faces lit up and if it was even possible they became friendlier. The yoga place was called Yoga with Asiri which simultaneously ran a massage parlour of sorts and so they offered us discounted rates. We informed them that we’d return later on in the day and we meant it, as it was in our itinerary to get a massage sometime during our trip.
Now it was time for yoga. The masseuses previously informed us the poses we’d be doing during the class, handing us a leaflet too. Naturally, they all looked far flexible than I could think. The class began and the yoga teacher, Asiri, mirrored his workers in friendliness and kindness.
He asked us our level and we told him we’re beginners. He replied by saying the most important thing is to stay relaxed and to enjoy ourselves, not to over exert ourselves. After all, as he said, yoga was to be enjoyed and not to be stressed while doing it otherwise it defeats the purpose.
Our bodies were like a chicken on a rotisery, rotating, twisting and turning, holding positions and using muscles I didn’t know existed. Some poses were difficult but still enjoyable. Others were more relaxing and all about stretching. It helped that after each pose we released tension and did deep breathing exercises.
When the class ended I was disappointed. It was an enjoyable, relaxing experience, so much so that I almost fell asleep during the class. We bid our farewell and decided to walk around to look at shops until we head back for the massage. As was tradition, I had some king coconut water while we twisted and turned along the road trying to avoid being hit by tuk tuts.
Once again we were drawn into buying more than we planned. This times damage was caused by a painting, a coaster and some more tea- a vanilla green tea bled. Before heading for a massage we stopped at Tartaruga hotel restaurant for some drinks. Today was sunny and the heat could only be fought back by a mango lassi.
Now was the perfect time to get a massage. We head back and our friends are happy to see us stick to our word. They gladly tell us that they’ll chip in a face and back massage with the head and shoulders one we asked for. Surprisingly they ask us how much WE want to pay for it at an already discounted price. Embarrassed by this gesture and their generosity we state a slightly lower price only for them to reduce it further.
Heading in I wondered why stressed people got massages to relax. I thought, yes of course it’s relaxing but how relaxing could it be? I learnt the answer to that question as I tried to keep myself awake while my body went through intervals of harsh pressing while others were more gentle. In the end though it felt like I no longer had any bones in my body.
We thanked them for their gracious service and left staggering out trying to get a hold of ourselves so we can tuk tuk home. The plan was to shower quickly and head back out for a more challenging time and this was exactly what happened. The Japanese Peace Pagoda and Jungle Beach were the order of the day. I was, in particular, excited about the Japanese temple.
Once you arrive in Unawatuna, it’s hard not to see its white body glistening in the distance and now it was finally time to meet it. The drive consisted of steep uphill roads that were lined with trees to either side. The Jungle Beach was close to the temple and so the whole area lived up to its name.
I was expecting the temple to be as the others that we’ve seen but instead it was an open area where you can freely walk and enjoy the view it had which was towering over the rest of the city. The story of Buddha was unscripted into the walls so that visitors had a history lesson to read. Next it was time to head to Jungle Beach.
Expecting our driver to drop us at the beach exactly, instead he dropped us at the top of a hill and informed us to walk down a path to see the beach. Once again my expectations failed me, instead of a simple walk it was a steep hike. The path was as if it were confused, patches of steps were broken up by natural paths of slabs of rocks and boulders.
Eventually we reach and conveniently placed, a juice stall was set at the foot of this hill. We ordered ourselves lime juice and a drink for our driver who waited for us at the top. The beach was just as beautiful as the others but attracted tourists because of it’s more gentle waves and secluded area. A couple pictures later and we were back hiking up the jungles path.
Swimming would come later at the Unawatuna beach. Now it was time to head home to change. Swimming suits ready, the weather decided to mess around with us and began to rain. We decided this wouldn’t stop us and walked towards the beach. When we arrived, restaurants sat across from the sea all along the coast. A real variety for tourists to enjoy.
We sat at the Happy Banana resort and restaurant. Our server was pleasant and was happy to go with our suggestion of placing our order after a quick dip in the sea. We headed in expecting to swim. Instead we were jerked in by the strong tide and we quickly went from being ankle deep to struggling to stand.
This shifted our false bravery attitude quickly and instead we decided to sit at the head of sea on the sand where people would normally go just to dip their feet in. A little while later we were sitting inside waiting for our food to arrive as it began to rain again. A chicken main course and banana split later and we were ready to head home to finish watching Osmosis Jones and to sleep for another day of tiring but exciting adventure.