Stuck at the beach

While sitting at lunch in Anuradhapura one day, a nice, older Sri Lankan man started chatting with us. He insisted that we visit Trincomalee because it is the most beautiful place in Sri Lanka. He said that we would not regret it. Two days later we were on our way to Trincomalee.

A perk of having a whole month in Sri Lanka is we have plenty of time to take detours and change our plans. Not sure I would call Trincomalee the most beautiful place, but Uppuveli beach, right outside the city, was a lovely spot to spend a few days.

And this detour was perfectly timed because on the other side of the country there was a really bad storm with monsoon conditions, bad flooding, and mudslides. The last news report we saw said the death toll was up to 180. While the storm wasn’t directly hitting the places on our itinerary, there was a lot of rain. Not in Trincomalee though. So 2 days at the beach turned into 6. There are worse places to be stranded.

The fort in Trincomalee city is home to a Hindu temple that is possibly the most colorful place of worship I’ve ever seen. Some of the trees outside the temple have little wooden cribs tied to their branches, left by people who are trying to have a baby.

One morning we got up with the sun to go dolphin watching. Depending on the season there are whales too. It’s not whale season now. We saw huge groups of dolphins swimming together; more dolphins than I have ever seen.

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Sri Lankan curry might be growing on me. It generally consists of rice (often with raisins) and an array of vegetable dishes, and sometimes chicken or fish. When you go to a restaurant and order rice and curry, you don’t choose just one curry; you get a few.

We found the best curry we’ve eaten so far at the beach. This curry might ruin me for future curries on this trip. It was really good. Rice n Curry, just a few minutes’ walk from Uppuveli beach in Trincomalee, has a buffet dinner every night. They make 10 different curries, and for about $3 USD you can eat as much as you want. We ate there 3 times. And then went back one morning for a cooking class.

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Each dish has some of the same core ingredients: fresh garlic, fresh ginger, onions, sat, black pepper, chili powder and/or flakes (if you like a little spice), mustard seeds, curry powder, and 2 types of cumin (normal and sweet). We made dhal (lentils), which, after rice, seems to be the most common component of rice and curry. We also made a potato curry, a pumpkin curry (pumpkin is different in Asia), a very spicy okra curry, deep fried cauliflower, and a beetroot curry. My friend Nina likes things really spicy. I’m better at spicy than I used to be, but I still have my limits. Every time the question of adding chili powder to a dish came up Nina said yes, I said a little bit, and the cook laughed and put a heaping spoonful. Yay for me and my tongue. We made so much curry that we ended up sharing with everyone else in the restaurant. The curries seem like they would be really complicated to make because of all of the flavors, but it was all surprisingly simple.

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I’ve now taken cooking classes in 3 countries. Maybe I should open a restaurant and serve the 4 Thai dishes I know how to cook, Vietnamese spring rolls, and 6 Sri Lankan curies. Every time I travel to a new place and take a new cooking class, I can add to the menu.

After 6 days at the beach it was time to leave. Time to take our chances with the rain and head for tea country!

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