Arthur C. Clarke, writer of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” lived here in Hikkaduwa from 1956 until his death in 2008. I figured if it was good enough for Clarke, it would prove to be a fine place to base myself in Sri Lanka. A lifelong fan of his work, I thought it might be nice to sneak a peek at his house that survived the 2004 tsunami. Unfortunately, 35,000 people in the area who lost their lives were not so lucky.
Following my escape from India, the contrast I am finding here in Sri Lanka is vast. Gone is the incessant beeping of car horns. Gone are the kamikaze motorists. And, gone is the ubiquitous filth. After a long day of travel and taxis, I was greeted in my hotel with a chilled towel and frosty champagne flute of fresh juice, and it has just kept getting better from there on out.
This beautiful, spacious, ocean-view room with balcony was only $50 per night. That works out to $1500 per month for all of these amenities, as well as having someone to clean and pick up after you.
The Beautiful Pool – Note: The USA is not even included in the collection of flags.
The lounge flanks the pool on the outside and the lobby on the inside. The hotel is built very much upon the concept of an open-air plan where the lobby, restaurant, and large bar are open to the outdoors.
The staff labors constantly to maintain the property against the elements. Everything is well manicured, and I even saw them polishing the stainless steel flag poles. Even with the current limited audience they make sure to put their best foot forward. If I return, there will be no doubt as to my future accommodations in Hikkaduwa.
I found out in Aqaba that the conditions here at this time of year are not conducive to good snorkeling and diving, but no matter. It’s a joy to have a beautiful place to catch up on the blog and do some Australia and Fiji planning as I joyously await my trip to country #100 where I may even get the chance to swim with a whale shark.
I sit in the shade with my laptop typing away with the ocean’s roar in the background. If it gets too hot, I can retreat to my air conditioned room or take a dip in the pool. This would be a great place to return to in the high season when the diving is good. However, it’s delightful now. The hotel prices are lower, it’s not crowded, and you can get better deals from the local merchants as well. Sri Lanka has some extremely beautiful gemstones and jewelry that you can find everywhere. I’m also coming relish the occasional thunderstorms that are quite common this time of year.
My First Sunset
This ocean view definitely beats Dal Lake. Not only that, I am enjoying the soothing sounds of the sea instead of being subjected to constant jarring interruptions of the Allahu Akbarring muslim call to prayer that interrupted my sleep on a nightly basis and rattled my nerves five times a day. It’s seventy percent Buddhist here.
This place is very Zen. There’s really no reason to leave the property. Who needs to meditate when you are staying at a place like this? By no means am I killing myself to fill my time dashing about, but I am more into planning the days that lay ahead and preparing for the momentous occasion when I first set foot in the Maldives. At that moment, the most important item on my bucket list will be completed. In visiting my 100th. country, I will no longer be in a race against time to accomplish this feat. Given the fleeting and fickle nature of life, you never know when your ticket’s going to get punched. So let’s hope I manage to avoid any tsunamis during my stay in Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Of course if such a thing should happen while I am in the Maldives, it would be a most appropriate way to check out.
John Whitaker Hollister aka The Travel Zealot swept away by a tsunami upon visiting his 100th country. That would certainly be a fitting epitaph. I always thought drowning would be a much better way to snuff it than most of the alternatives, anyway.
Another day in paradise, but the weather turned to rain for a few days.
Clouds gather for another round of precipitation.
Makes for a nice sunset before another downpour.
It made for a nice texture in the swimming pool.
FORMER HOME OF ARTHUR C. CLARKE
SCUBA VILLA – This sign made it clear that I had the right house. Clarke was an avid scuba diver.
It is an older home that amazingly survived the tsunami given that it is only sixty meters from the ocean. Currently in ill repair, one wonders why this house has not been restored and turned into a museum. Clarke was Sri Lanka’s most noteworthy and beloved expatriate.
The swastika was not only used by the Nazis, but have been a Buddhist symbol for centuries.
Signs of ill repair.
Here you can see the proximity to the ocean, and a caretaker for the property.
ARUN & AMAN TURTLE CONSERVATION AND RESEARCH CENTER
BIG POOL – This is where injured turtles find a new home.
Freshly hatched baby turtles cavort in a holding tank soon to be released into the ocean.
Say hello to my little friend.
Rather than jerking him around, I put him back in his tank.
TURTLE BEACH – Behind the Research Center is a large beach free of housing and resorts where turtles have been coming for years to bury their eggs.
NEXT STOP: THE MALDIVES