Uppuveli has a great beach, Trinco city has a crap one, so I figured it’s time I checked out the other major beach on the northeastern coast of Sri Lanka. Nilaveli is about 10km north of where I’ve been staying, and has a completely different feel. Not as many tourists, a lot more locals, and barbed wire and military watch towers all over the place to give it that ‘tropical paradise’ feel.
Jokes aside, it is a great spot, with palm trees and clear blue water. There aren’t as many restaurants or hotels as in Uppuveli and it’s a long stretch of sand, which means it’s easy to get away from everything and just let the day seep away under a tree. Of course, that brings with it the danger of having a herd of cows wander over and shit on your head, but that sort of thing is par for the course in Asia.
Nilaveli is where Sri Lankans like to go for a dip, and the water around the main section of beach is teeming with the happy little bastards. They like to pack in tight, climb on each other’s shoulders, kiss each other, and generally act in baffling ways that confused and intrigued me. They were obviously curious about me, too, because I was stopped a few times to have my photo taken with groups of near-naked black men – usually holding their hands. I’d post a photo of it but 1) I thought better of handing my camera over to a bunch of strangers in a third world country and 2) anyone who saw it would probably assume I had, at some point, participated in a beach-themed interracial gangbang, which isn’t the case at all. I swear.
There’s a clutch of shops in the centre of the beach that sell everything from curry wraps to glass flowers (my favourite!), and, while small, it’s typically busy. Tuk-tuks and buses fang up and down the dusty road, while cows and dogs dick around, getting in the way and wasting everyone’s time. It’s aimed at the locals, not tourists, so unless you’re really after some cheap plastic toys of a snappy button-up shirt, there’s not much to buy. I was trying to find a signed and framed 1989 Canberra Raiders jersey, for instance, but had no luck and had to settle for one from 1990. I was crushed.
Tired from a long day of sitting on the beach and dancing with cows, I climbed into a tuk-tuk and pointed the little bloke in the front seat in the right direction. We rattled and rolled off down a track, my new friend singing Taylor Swift songs at the top of his lungs and wobbling his little head from side to side. Unfortunately the rock ‘n’ roll express came to a crashing halt when one of the wheels fell off the tuk-tuk, spinning off into a field and startling a cow. Taylor smashed the tuk-tuk into a fence and it almost flipped, which surely would have killed me.
We climbed out and Taylor was in tears, probably more for his damaged tuk-tuk than for the fact he almost murdered me. I cuddled him and told him everything would be alright, and he blew his nose loudly on my singlet. He finally settled down enough to pull out his phone and, not wanting to hike through the middle of nowhere, I just hung out, listening to music and dancing with a small group of goats. After a short time, another Sri Lankan dude rocked up in a tuk-tuk, tied Taylor’s to the back of it with some rope, then we all climbed into his ride and crawled out of there.
We ended up in a little hut surrounded by dogs, where Taylor explained to his family that I was a hero, having been there for him when he was at his lowest point. Or something like that, his English was shithouse. They served me a delicious meal of rice and curry, during which Taylor’s children performed a traditional boogie for me, and then I was taken home in the working tuk-tuk and dumped. It wa an unusual experience.