June 14, 2014
On the morning following the wedding reception we had our second 4:25 wakeup call of the trip, this time to catch the early train from Colombo to our next destination Trincomalee, a beach city on the northeast coast of the island.
Just as was our experience on the train line from Kandy to Haputale, there were many seats available in the second class cabins, so we didn’t have to spend extra for reservations. Having slept minimally the previous night, we dozed throughout the trip as our train slowly trundled across the country. At a junction called Gal Oya, we had to switch trains from the rickety one that had taken us from Colombo onto an improbably even more ancient carriage that must’ve been older than what I’ve seen in museums elsewhere.
After eight sweltering hours riding the trains and having covered a grand total of 240 kilometers, we pulled into Trinco. We were welcomed to the odd sight of spotted dear milling about the city’s trash just as dogs would do in other cities. Was this symbolic of how our couple of days here would be?
Trinco turned out to be a much smaller city that the impression the guidebooks had given me, with a center comprising of only two parallel main roads. It was delightfully quiet and quaint.
We took a stressfully packed bus ride a few kilometers north of the city to Uppuveli Beach, where we were stunned to see a beautiful long beach with calm water (unlike the stormy South Coast), and… other white people. Even though it was the “high” season for Trinco, we were expecting to be amongst the only tourists around, just like everywhere else we’d been, but there were actually others. At least thirty in total.
It took some looking, but eventually Kim managed to score us a reasonable beachside room for 1500 rupees ($12) per night at the Golden Beach Cottages. We settled in, took a long overdue dip in the ocean, and had a relaxing evening and afternoon on the beach.
- Even at early hours and with no traffic, a tuk-tuk from Mount Lavinia to Colombo Fort will take at least half an hour.
- Be prepared to negotiate and search harder than elsewhere for cheap accommodation at Trinco. Despite being nowhere near capacity, places along the beach were trying to charge 4000 and above for rooms. If you’re persistent, the law of demand and supply will eventually work in your favor and you’ll be able to find a cheap place.
- To save money on water, buy the big 5 or liter jugs. We hadn’t seen these around elsewhere, but went through easily one a day in Trinco.