Having survived the night of the banana fire ants I continued to wind my bike along the A4 east of Monaragala. Once again I enjoyed the lush tropical surroundings flanked by some towering rocky outcrops. One of these looked like an Easter Island statue with a large nose. Stopping to look carefully I gestured to a man close by about the nose and he nodded and smiled. Quite a conk on that rock! The road snaked down and down and down. What a great ride! I stopped as the road bottomed out a little to buy a Sri Lankan flag in lieu of Independence day and to send home.
The surrounding vegetation thinned and took on a drier appearance. I noted neat new housing created for displaced people following the 2004 tsunami. The road came to a junction in Potuville. I turned South and was somewhat surprised that it was a predominately Moslem town having so far been immersed in Buddhist or Hindu culture.
Once through the town I crossed the bridge over the lagoon separating Potuville from Arugambe or Arugam Bay. The strip that runs parallel to the sea is busy with guest accommodation and restaurants. A cursory look in the Lonely Planet revealed a few favourites and chose the Galaxy rest house. Prices are good with a double cabana for around £8 a night and cheaper if staying longer.
I took the opportunity with my unladen bike to visit Potuville and view its many bicycle shops. This was the first time in Sri Lanka that I had seen so many bicycles in use as the main form of transport.
My other discovery is Sri Lankan bread loaves which I obtained from a local baker in Potuville pictured below. They have the consistency of croissant and usually quite delicious. The Galaxy hotel provided excellent freshly ground coffee in cafetieres. Decent fresh coffee is something I miss a lot travelling in Sri Lanka. British colonialists had first tried to cultivate coffee in Sri Lanka. The crops failed miserably and they introduced tea instead with a great deal of success.
That evening I found a local restaurant; the Beach Hotel and enjoyed an amazing special fried vegetable and chicken rice dish. It was my first sit down meal in Sri Lanka that I had not cooked myself. The chef came out to discuss how I would like my meal and later we had a good chat about Arugam Bay and the effects of the tsunami whilst one if his sons took my bike for a quick spin.
The next day I washed and hung out some clothes. I did a little food shopping, had tea with two Sri Lankan motorcycle policeman, swam a little and returned once again to the Beach hotel in the evening for ‘plain tea’.