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The south eastern coast of Sri Lanka around Hikkaduwa area is famous for its beautiful beaches and the sea turtles in its waters. The train hugs the coast all the way from Colombo to Galle, passing through other seaside towns such as Bentota and Ambalangoda. The coast is also well known amongst surfers and scuba divers.

I spent the whole day travelling down the coast from Colombo to Unawatuna, by train at first to Aluthgama, then by tuk-tuk for the rest of the way. I was really surprised at how pretty the beaches were, and had a fascinating visit to a sea turtle hatchery followed by an excellent lunch of curried crab.

Old man on the train

The train trundled down the Sri Lankan coast at not much more than a slow gallop, with folk such as this old gent taking the breeze through the windows.

Around us the landscape changed from the Colombo cityscape to a lush green-carpeted tropical forest.

Brigt green carpet

Hikkaduwa beach

Boats pitched up on the beach as seen from the train. Yes, it really runs this close to the sea.

Once I'd switched to tuk-tuk transport, we stopped at this archetypally beautiful beach.

Hikkaduwa beach and palm trees

Brightly painted boats

Colourful boats sit newly painted across the road from the water's edge.

I watched a group of fishermen singing as they hauled in their nets.

Hauling in their catch

Turtle nests in the sand

We stopped off at a sea turtle hatchery in the Hikkaduwa area, here the eggs are still maturing under the sand.

Baby turtles barely a few days old. Ninety-nine percent hatched are male, and they are released to the sea when not much larger than this. The females are much more valuable, so are separated and grown in captivity for a number of years before release.

Baby turtles

Tiny baby turtle in my hand

The teeny tiny baby sea turtles are really quite strong swimmers, and are well capable of scuttling rapidly across the sand.

In this place of paradise there are still reminders of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which ravaged much of the Sri Lankan coast on Boxing Day 2004.

Tsunami ravaged houses

Boat dumped by tsunami

A boat dropped by the tsunami sits amongst a lush green landscape, slowly reclaiming it.

There is a memorial to the people who lost their lives during the tsunami, with the mural depicting the train that was washed away.

Tsunami memorial, Hikkaduwa

Buddha statue

A newly completed statue of Buddha stands over a lake south of Hikkaduwa.

I was really taken with brightness of the green carpet in the Sri Lankan jungle, looks soft enough to sleep on.

Jungle green carpet

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Copyright © Ross Wattie 2013