(Un)Welcome to the Jungle

20140101-063644.jpgAfter a morning Yoga session and breakfast we checked out and chatted with Avi and family who had their lunch after being on a more successful whale watching trip. We decided to splurge the transport to Ella rather than head to Matara and try the buses so it was a van for about 60 EUR. It should be said that the van had four spacious seats so it was a nice and safe ride and we accepted the drivers offer to take a slightly longer (5 more EUR) passing the national park and some other sights along the way.
20140101-063709.jpgThis turned out to be a very good choice, we stopped at some huge rock and some enormous Buddha statue. I also stopped the car for taking photos of various wildlife along the way, monkeys, bats(!) as well as nice nature. While passing next to the national park we very quite lucky and saw a small herd of baby elephants grazing just next to the border of the national park. After five fun hours we were closing up on Ella though, and had to back track a little since “2.5km into the jungle” didn’t mean from Ella but rather 15km from Ella and then off into the jungle.20140101-063730.jpgI got some bad vibes since the 400m walk was after the 2.5km straight into jungle and took quite the time. By now it was pitch black and when we finally arrived there were torches here and there and the place looked like something from a Survivor tv-series set. We were shown to our awesome room with glass walls, or so we thought. The room had no walls, no power outlets and no door.20140101-063753.jpg
I asked repeatedly if this really was the deluxe room and indeed it was, we needed dinner by now but I passed their “office” which was the only place where there was something resembling wifi and checked my mail. Indeed I had confirmation for a room with glass walls, I once again showed this and were then informed that well, they did have rooms like that but they had given that to someone else already. So it wasn’t a deluxe room I asked and the guy squirmed being caught lying a few minutes ago. Someone more senior stepped in and offered a deluxe tent(!) which we had a look at. It was an improvement but still quite a bit from our expectations. We had dinner and then made up our mind, we’re out of here. Initially they tried to charge us for the jungle ride and the food but they agreed after some persuasion to drop us at the main road as compensation for our hassles. Ella Jungle Resort may be an awesome place (for scouting groups), but their staff combined with the hassle of getting to Ella/back make it impossible to recommend.

So now it was 22:00, we were quite a bit away from civilization and we had nowhere to sleep for the next four nights 🙂 We paid a ridiculously high price to a tuk-tuk driver that Ella Jungle Resort had called to get into Ella town (5 EUR) and we found a place called Dream cafe which fortunately had a spare room due to a no-show by someone. We quickly fell asleep after quite the day but had a roof and warm beds and actual walls and could walk to Ella to start to figure out what our next move would be.

Headstands and nosedives

20131230-103439.jpgAfter waking briefly at 0230 I managed to sleep until 07:00, appreciating the earplugs as well as 11 hours of sleep, can’t really think when I enjoyed that the last time. It was in other words a good time to join the morning Yoga class at 0730 while Mona slept on.

Fewer participants and different postures and exercises, except the sun salutation which seems to be a standard part. We did head stands which was surprisingly easy, but in general a little less taxing than the previous setting, still not flexible enough after two sessions though, I’m impatient 😉

A quick and steady breakfast with Mona before heading out surfing again, this time at Nilwella, which was a really good looking beach more resembling a bay. I skipped instructor this time and headed for the larger green waves, I managed a few long runs but also did a few nose dives at high speed. And the constant paddling caused some marks on my lower ribs despite me wearing a tank top but just as the day before – great fun and good exercise! When we got back to the (open) truck one backpack which had been left was missing, it contained nothing more than sunglasses and towels but still. We spoke with some locals who found(?) the bag just 20m further inside the jungle, probably some of the kids we saw earlier asking for money, everything left but searched through – the locals were not proud of the incident but it was a good reminder to indeed not bring valuables…
Avi’s wife Annelie and the kids were at the restaurant and Avi soon joined so we had lunch together. After lunch we enjoyed the pool and I did some blogging before our scheduled massage at 17. It was a good full body massage for 90 minutes (80 in practice), Mona was really happy with hers and mine wasn’t bad by any means but neither spectacular. That said the body felt much better afterwards.

The dinner was nice, but the tuna the other day was a notch tastier. I can’t recall myself having full plates of backup so I’m wondering if my appetite has improved. The rest of the evening was spent in bed reading and relaxing after another day of hard work.

Surfing safari

After a night of tormenting by some unholy sadist inspired by Clockwork Orange we woke up for the last time at 0930 and the beers from yesterday didn’t help the lack of rejuvenation either. The lovely shower helped getting rid of the grumpiness quickly though. We later learned that it’s the bread-man on his tuk-tuk who had invested in a weapon of mass sleep-disruption, an impressive loudspeaker playing only 8 seconds of Für Elise before looping back to replay it over and over and over again. Since his vehicle of torture was constantly moving it at times so far away one could only just hear it but at times you could swear someone left their Nokia cellphone from -98 in your room with an alarm set. Anywho, the breakfast buffet was nice and once again I could get omelets, fresh fruit, yoghurt to start the day.

After some blogging and slacking we saw Avi who was having lunch with his children in our restaurant. He had also been ravaged by the Für Elise tune and his wife’s first reaction had indeed been to hit the wall to the neighbor so they would turn off their damn alarm some time. I had a surf lesson scheduled for 1330 and wasn’t hungry yet so figured we would instead try the dinner later tonight and settled for mango lassies.

We were surfing at SK Town and I was the only one receiving a lesson so I got the instructor by myself which was really nice. It was much easier here than what I recall for Jeffrey’s Bay in South Africa so more or less every white water wave allowed me to surf standing until I reached the beach again. Lots of fun, but no photos this time to prove my skill 😉

Back at Talalla Resort and just in time for a Yoga class. I should be honest and state that I have some prejudices related to this area but tried to enter the class with an open mind. Let’s just say that there were people there who’s bodies bent in ways I’m pretty sure the body isn’t designed for, and Mona or yours truly was not the most flexible ones present. There were quite a few exercised that required strength as well as stamina though so I at least wasn’t the worst in class in all aspects and left sweaty, tired and now really hungry.

The dinner was awesome, a guy grilling tuna the way you wanted, a nice salsa to that, nice salads and lovely curries as well. The nice buffet was topped up with a beer to share before returning to our room. I’m usually not one who cares for e.g. flowers placed on the bed when you arrive but I have to say it was quite nice to see this time, and this was part of their daily cleaning routine. I was exhausted after the exercising and fell asleep like a baby at 20:00 but this time with earplugs inserted.