We live just five minutes by motor scooter from the beaches and the Indian Ocean.
And yes, we go to the beach quite often either for a swim, lunch, or to take in one of Sri Lanka’s glorious sunsets. And yet, we both know that just under two hours away the beaches further South are… wilder and wider!
And so we head off for a weekend getaway at Talalla beach. Green Global Trek has been invited to stay at Tallala Retreat, and we happily accept the invite. Talalla Retreat is nestled in a corner of the crescent shaped beach, and we are looking forward to discovering it.
Talalla beach, as you will soon see, is quite simply put, BLISS. Our idea of a good beach is one that has few people, soft creamy sand, clear temperate waters, and good (safe) swimming.
Talalla offers up a great combination of attractive features: Spacious and airy rooms, yoga classes, surfing opportunities and an impressive menu of organic food with many delicious vegetarian options to be had. There is also a full spa with a variety of natural massage, facials and reflexology on site. A large swimming pool is set under palm trees for those who want to chill pool side.
From the beach Talalla Resort is barely visible. It is set back from the ocean front with a large expanse of green lawns and hidden behind beach foliage.
This is the view as we walk from our room towards the beach. A stretch of welcoming green, with a hint of blue on the horizon. Just a few minutes walk, but a really nice one through the well tended lush property.
There are a few attractive, high ceiling, private bamboo cottages. More rustic than the other rooms, yet with a certain charm that only bamboo can bring to a dwelling. The feeling of being surrounded by natural materials is quite unique.
Very pleasant two story buildings nestled amongst the trees, make for attractive accommodation. Our room is open to the elements, which is great for fresh air and air flow all night long.
Blue skies, tall palm trees, green grass and feet up. This is island living at its best. Stay and enjoy the view or go to the beach? Hard choices to be sure…. 🙂
Even though the restaurant area is large and can accommodate large groups it is set back nicely in the lush grounds. The kitchen is supported by Talalla’s own organic vegetable and herb gardens.
A fresh, organic vibrant “Buddha Bowl” of crunchy veggies with red rice. One of many delicious vegetarian dishes made by the competent chefs at Talalla Retreat. I had a special request (allergy to onions) and the kitchen went out of their way to make up a few special dishes sans onions, all of which were delicious. And the effort was appreciated!
Breakfast includes a Sri Lankan classic, definitely a favorite of ours… coconut pancakes (made using rice flour) with coconut treacle. Yum!
There are 3 yoga spaces on the property. Designed this way to accommodate private yoga and surf camp groups as well as the regular yoga classes offered to guests. Talalla Resort has a perfect location for a combination of beach, yoga and upscale accommodation in a great setting.
Ben has been working around the clock and we have not had much down time. I “plotted” this weekend escape, sans computer, to have some chill time.
We have the beach to ourselves. It is “slow season” but as well, these more remote beaches are not huge tourist draws as hotels and restaurants are few, compared with beaches closer to Galle and Marissa where the crowds tend to flock.
Ben, not complaining about being dragged away from his computer and Colombo meetings, to appreciate the experience at Tallala Retreat.
Yes, I am hard at work… 🙂 Ah life is good!
A lone fishermen in his brightly colored sarong (hiked up to “mini skirt” version) repairing his fishing net after a morning at sea. A symphony of colors.
Ben jumps out of bed to go and see the fishermen push their boats out at dawn.
Sunrises on Talalla are more dramatic than sunsets. The sky slowly lights up from the sun’s still soft golden rays, amongst the steel gray clouds.
Some of us wait for a more civilized hour to hit the beach. Talalla Retreat It is completely hidden from view from the ocean. A former set of buildings was closer to the ocean, but was wiped out during the Tsunami, which hit Sri Lanka very hard in 2004. The rebuilt hotel is set further back on the property, tucked nicely away from the immediate shore.
From the beach walk to the white boat to find the entrance to Talalla Retreat. Considering how large the retreat property is and the fact that they can house over 100 guests at a time, it is impressive how invisible the property is from the beach.
Enjoying a walk, a swim, quiet time on the beach before some exploring…
Part of the fun of a road trip to the beach is all we encounter along the way ~ nearby towns, street life and temples. This gives us a good grounding of our destination’s surrounding.
A typical store front along the way … homemade brooms are propped up for sale and kitchen pots hang mobile like on a string.
How many places in the world are there old fashioned red mailboxes, here charmingly called a “letter box”.
Rambutan fruit is piled up in red and yellow glory. Yay, it is rambutan season in Sri Lanka! Screech to a halt for a rambutan Epicurian delight. (We first tasted this lychee-like fruit in Viet Nam and it remains one of our favorites Asian fruits.)
Underneath the hairy exterior which make this fruit look like colorful miniature porcupines, there is a sweet white flesh inside, surrounding a hard pit.
Sri Lanka is not ‘known” for its street food as you drive through the country (unlike say Viet Nam or Thailand). Yet one item that can often be had is sweet bright yellow corn, cooked in huge cauldrons on the side of the road. As the vendor lifts the lid for this tuk tuk driver, the steam bellows out, and with it the heady smell of fresh corn. Delicious!
A small road side stand with a a few more unusual fruits such as the large pomelo on the right ~ a variety of grapefruit with thick white pith and a bright pink sweet fleshy interior. The pomelo is triple the size of a regular grapefruit.
We saw this large temple in Matara, en route to Talalla Resort, and made a mental note to come back and visit on our way back to Galle. So glad we did! This temple is less than one hour from Talalla and is a must-see in the region.
Devundara Vishnu Davalaya Temple is situated near Matara. 2000 years ago, the Southern- most part of the island was a place of exceeding sanctity. This magnificent temple to the Indian god Vishnu was built 700 years ago. Some 300 years later, the Portuguese destroyed the temple, stole jewelry, gems and ivory. Nonetheless, it remains a destination for the pious population and a worthwhile stop for visitors.
Sri Lankan temples often lure us in. Usually with the sighting of a large Buddha sculpture. This modern gray stone one, is visible in the distance, through the large yellow ochre arches in the front. This temple, like many is a complex of multiple buildings, courtyards, sculptures and shrines.
An unusual 3-tiered bright blue wooden temple with painted decorations on the outside.
The white wash of the shrine, wall and temple, stand out against the bright blue sky.
We are just in time to see and hear the drummers as they approach the blue temple building, where people are waiting for the opening of a sacred altar.
Inside this blue temple are intricate brightly painted murals on the walls and the small room is full of devotees.
Floor to ceiling red, white and black portraits provide quite a dramatic setting. The paintings depict half human half animal beings, various deities in Hinduism. This is a very unusual aspect of this temple ~while the large Buddha sculpture makes clear it is a Buddhist temple at its core, the site is also revered by Hindus. An unusual “shared space” reminding all that Hinduism predates Buddhism.
In white sarongs, these men are on hand to provide blessings to those that enter into the various shrines that are in a building nearby the temple. The writing above the door is in Sinhalese and Sanskript.
Bright shiny crimson fabric, colored lights, posters, deities…. like being inside a brightly decorated chocolate box.
While we have been exposed to Buddhism for several years now, our knowledge of Hinduism remains in its infancy. We understand that the 3 primary gods are Shiva, Kali, Vishnu, but it is a complex system of deities that we appreciate somewhat superficially at this point. This photo really captures the feel of our experience ~ small rooms each dedicated to a different god. Faded images speak to years of devotion, backlit by the Sri Lankan sun.
Understated is not a word that would be associated with Hindu imagery. The temples we visited both in India and in Northern Sri Lanka are invariably brightly colored, and chockfull of visual attention grabbers!
As we emerge out of the Hindu portion of the complex, the gray Buddha sculpture is visible rising behind the trees..
The size of the Buddha sculpture can be measured against Ben, standing at the feet of the Buddha.
A kind soft spoken young monk approaches us and offers to show us around yet another temple within the complex. He joined the monastery at the tender age of 10 and is now 25. As we speak with him, several Sri Lankan women drop to their knees in front of him, to offer their respect and to kiss his feet as is customary. A Buddhist monk is after all a revered figure.
I (Peta) am entranced by the “sculpted” face of this young monk, and as well, his overall demeanor. He proudly explains the history of this particular hall of paintings, whose walls are covered with images which have quotes underneath with Buddhist lessons.
This one with a babe is Ben’s favorite, (not surprisingly). Paradoxically, the lesson here is not to be lured by carnal desire.
If you are a Buddhist one does not react to blame nor praise. This image nicely depicts the monk walking the middle path unresponsive to either praise or blame. There are literally over 100 such imagery worth contemplating. It is very rare for these Buddhist teachings to have an English translation underneath the SInhalese, which makes it accessible to foreigners.
The outdoor sun is bright, but just a soft light penetrates the hall of paintings ~ just enough light to be able to see the images and read the lessons on all the walls, floor to ceiling.
Peta seizes the opportunity to discuss Buddhism. She assesses how we shape up as Buddhists and out of the 5 precepts necessary, we definitely practice 3 of these, with 2 perhaps being a tad lacking. But then again, that is the point of Buddhism, that you evolve as you go and strive for improvement. One of the principles that we really resonate with is that of kindness to all living beings. The monk tells Peta that he would not even kill a mosquito!
This colorful mural of Buddha and disciples is huge, and fills the area above the temple wall and below the wooden ceiling.
We have written before about a unique feature of Sri Lankan Buddhist temples ~ the combination of 3D sculptures and painted murals behind. Here a row of Buddhas in full lotus pose.
And for those with an appreciation for maps…
Talalla is a two hour drive from our base in Dalawella, Thalpe…,
Thanks to Talalla Retreat for hosting us. As always, all opinions are our own. For more information on Talalla Retreat: http://www.talallaretreat.com/.