NJ joining the seasoned travellers day 3
Mirissa – Deniyaya
Is this a holiday?!?! 5.20 alarm call this morning, but so worth it. Quickly dressed and packed and down the road to catch the boat for our whale watching tour.
A very full boat, with a real mix of guests, young and old and a huge crew (well 7). After arriving at 6 we didn’t leave until 7, so could have had another hour in bed 😦 as soon as we set off we had a safety briefing. The safety in question was of the whales and the sea – not one mention of our safety, although we had been instructed to put our life jackets on as soon as we left port. Knew they had their priorities right 🙂 It made us feel quite relieved that they took the welfare of the whales so seriously, explaining the position of the boat to not affect the whales as they surface otherwise I would have been concerned when we were racing to what appeared to be on top of them. The first stop was for a huge pod of dolphins which alternated from being chased by us and the local fishing boats and then them chasing us. Such beautiful creatures 🙂
We knew a whale had been sighted as we could see a circle of boats in the distance, but our boat steered clear. We came upon another group of boats just in time to see the tale fin ascend as the whale dived beneath the sea.
From then on, it was just a waiting and watching game while being force fed ‘breakfast and snacks’ (a whole plate of different fruits; omelette or fried egg and sausages; fruit juice; chocolate Swiss roll!
I’m very pleased to say that I spotted 2 whales out the back of the boat, both which surfaced a few times, one right next to the boat (and jayne got a fantastic photo ;)) I thought that as I got off the boat they would be taking me to one side and begging for me to stay on as part of the crew, but unfortunately that didn’t happen! I probably should mention that both Katherine and Jayne also spotted different whales too, but my spot was definitely the best!
They are absolutely enormous, and u can’t quite appreciate the size as they are still some way from the boat, and you never see the whole animal out of the water. Truly magnificent animals and I feel honoured to have seen them in their natural habitat (not sure anyone would want to try and house one, but they could very well have been extinct by now thanks to us.
Our captain had an argument with a speed boat carrying far too many passengers which chased the whale that was behind us (something you are not allowed to do) but they didn’t seem repentant. It’s all very well having rules, but if there is no one there to enforce them, there’s little point in having them in the first place. We felt very pleased to have spent a little more money for this trip knowing that we were with a reputable company who know what they are doing and are interested in protecting the whales and ignorants (people).
On our way back to port the rain came down and all those on the top deck had to squeeze into our section for the last 15 minutes which was cosy, but luckily the rain had stopped by the time we arrive back in Mirissa.
A 2 hour drive up into the mountains along very windy roads brought us to Deniyaya (I keep wanting to sing Bumbalaya – right spelling steve?) which is at the entrance to Sinharaja forest (another UNESCO site to tick off Jayne’s list). We are staying in a community project hotel which is charming – basic, but clean with two trees growing through the roof of my ‘bungalow’- and has a bakery. I resisted for longer than the other two, but ended up succumbing to the smells wafting my way and had what looked like an almond pastry but turned out to be bread with sugar on the top!
After chilling in the reception area, I felt the need to wander and explore the town – perhaps to spread the travel love to other establishments as we are trekking with these guys tomorrow as well. As soon as we set off the rain came down – gently and refreshingly at first and then heavy enough for us to head for the bus station for cover. Apparently this is the first rain Katherine and jayne have seen in the whole 4 months of travelling – my fault of course, I’ve brought it over with me, first to Mirissa this morning and now here. Just hoping that it doesn’t rain too much tomorrow as we have opted for the 5-6 hour trek into the forest.
We only spotted one restaurant in the whole town, so after walking back to pick up jayne, having a cold showers and changing into long trousers (mossie alert I feel) we headed back to find the only English speaker wasn’t there. However the chef understood our order, but was most put out that k and I ordered rice (not his domain) but we heard him gettIng his frustrations out on the hot plate while chopping the veg and noodles for jayne!
A very early night for all after our long day – but wanted to stay up in reception for a bit as they have more comfy chairs and a brighter light, but he wants to close up.
Monday 15th February 2016