Of waves, 3D Buddhist art and yoga ~ in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

We take the train for 2 hours from Colombo to Hikkaduwa on the southern coast. This time, we actually get seats! (yeah!).  Travel by train remains the favorite mode of transport, so it is consistently full.

This is to be a short stop, as we are on our way further South, where I (Peta) have 3 writing jobs covering unique luxury boutique hotels on the coast.  Hikkaduway is, apparently, a happening place during the high season, due to its world class surfing… but now, being the end of monsoon season, it is more like a ghost town.  Very few tourists right now (not that we are complaining, but it’s clear that businesses are suffering).

View from our hotel bedroom overlooking the Indian ocean, palm trees and the sunset.
The tide is in and it’s a perfect time for a walk and a swim in the positively balmy water.

There are many semi stray dogs in Sri Lanka. The government has a program which strives to neuter and sterilize as many street dogs as possible, in order to control the growing population. Most of the dogs are pretty healthy looking.
Sinhalese script ~ amazing, intricate round shapes form the letters of the alphabet. To us, they look like cool designs.
Tamil script above and Sinhalese below.

A typical village road framed by palm trees and lush flora. Coconuts find their way into most Sri Lankan dishes.
Very friendly and endearing school kids enjoy our attention and having their picture taken. In South Africa, we also wore school uniforms, but they were not as cute as these white ones. There is a very high literacy rate in Sri Lanka.
We stop at a country temple where we meet these 3 mini monks in training. Less raucous than the school yard for sure, these young boys are very serene and beautiful in their 3 ruby toned robes.
I’ve seen this beautiful woman somewhere before…… (see below) Many Sri Lankan young women and girls have exceptionally long hair. This woman tells me she has never had it cut.
100 rupees = $80c. Love the illustrations as well as the Sinhalese and Tamil fonts.
Beautiful delicate painted sketch on the outside of the Buddhist temple.
As we are about to enter the doorway into the main part of the temple, we get an idea of how huge the main Buddha sculpture is, inside.
Almost floor to ceiling with huge hands, this Buddha is magnificent as the light surrounds the head with a halo. In the front on the right is the head monk. (Gives a good idea of the scale.)
The walls of the temple are beautifully painted with disciples which blend into the sculptures in front of the wall, creating a 3D art piece.

As Hikkaduwa used to be a “hippy hang out”, we figure it is likely to have yoga.  Indeed it most certainly does:  we are about to have quite a yogic experience with Lyndon Mason,  a British yogi who has lived in Sri Lanka for almost 20 years, having married a local woman.   Lyndon is quite a character – he has trained with Iyengar himself in India and lived in a Himalayan mountain temple with Tibetan monks and yogis. He is a renowned teacher ~ one whom yogis seek out for his classes and alphabet of yoga system.  As we are here out of season, we are the only ones in the class.

Lyndon survived the lethal Tsunami that claimed over 30,000 lives in his adopted town of Hikkaduwa and nearby region.  He sits with us after yoga and shares his personal survival tale – thanks to his surf board, which he clung to, while being propelled by historic waves against buildings and debris. “I though the end of the world had come”, he tells us.  Many in town were not as lucky as Lyndon, and perished.  

Interestingly, he explains that the entire town rallied together just after the Tsunami, sharing resources and working together to get Hikkaduwa back on its feet.  It took 6 months just to be able to clear the rubble and have trucks able to go through town with aid.  However, this communal spirit of cooperation quickly dissolved once international aid arrived.  As we have seen in Haiti, international aid is typically too little too late, in the immediate aftermath; and then “too much, too quickly” in the reconstruction phase.  As a result, the town’s people apparently became highly competitive with each other in positioning for international aid. The atmosphere of communal camaraderie shifted quickly to jealousy and rivalry.

Recenly, Lyndon’s professional break came when a group of yogini took his class and, after attending for days, revealed that they were “scouts” for Apple, which was looking to put together a “Life Health App”.  

Rested in Hikkaduwa – ready to move on!  

6 thoughts on “Of waves, 3D Buddhist art and yoga ~ in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka

  1. Peta Kaplan and Ben Sandzer-Bell

    Thanks Roch! It is our impression as well that people are very content here. Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Christians all living together very peacefully and very quick to smile. Yes, we are pretty content as well enjoying the twists and turns of our nomadic lifestyle.

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