6.30 in the morning. The mellow yellow flowers bordering the balcony paint a pretty picture behind the glass door of our room. The monsoons are back. I wake up to chattering of birds with my soulmate, N, next to me. We snuggle up in our warm fuzzy blankets, lazing around! It’s 7.45 in the morning. Skies are light blue while the tropical sun is out for another day in the island. It’s as if the monsoon had never showed up.
As I’m sitting here in my room in Colombo two weeks later, I fondly remember getting lost in a plethora of thoughts while I heard the sounds of waves crashing onto the shore. And sipping a cup of green tea with Nathan in our balcony while the turquoise blue water a few meters away reminded us happiness in life. Sometimes, happiness comes in simplest forms, like palm trees, like the sea.
Palm Paradise Cabanas & Villas in Tangalle is one such place. A happy, happy place.
As our bus went past Dikwella (Also read: Underneath the Mango Tree: an oasis amid the chaos) and went on a few more kilometers, we got off the bus, completely misjudging Google Maps directions. And a quick page refresh told us we were still 2.5 kilometers short. So we walked uphill. As soon as we passed 1.2km, we came across a small game kade (village shop) selling Thambili. The aunty there was the sweetest lady one could meet. She quickly befriended with Nathan. And joked about his inability to speak Sinhala, saying that she initially thought he was an actor in South India. Another 300 meters up, we got a little tired and caught a tuk-tuk quoting 100 LKR for 1km. A short tuk-drive later, we were at Palm Paradise.
I cannot tell you what we loved the most about this place. maybe, it’s the warmth and the hospitality of the staff. Maybe it’s the jungle-esque atmosphere with hundreds of monkeys paying casual visits everyday. Or peacocks who made Palm Paradise their permanent home. Maybe the stylish interior of the cabanas and villas and the fact that you wake up to birdsong and the sound of crashing-waves.
At night, our first dinner here is a Sri Lankan buffet, with red rice and plenty of curries, including a delicious beef curry and Sri Lankan hoppers. We chit-chat with the uncle who serves us food. He asks about our breakfast preferences and gently smiles as Nathan wants string hoppers for breakfast the next day. During his 14 years at Palm Paradise, he’s served hundreds and thousands of guests. Some first time visitors. Some who make it a habit to visit Palm Paradise every year. Some guests here stay for two, three months as if they needed a long break from their hectic lifestyles. (Also read: Natural Mystic Sanctuary: finding bliss in Deniyaya) While he fondly talks about the life at Palm Paradise, he tells us that not many locals stay there although they wholeheartedly welcome Lankans. “We Lankans want everything brought to our doorstep. It isn’t quite luxury here,” he smiles.
Funnily though, luxury to us is sipping a cup of tea by the seaside, or observing how a family of tiny squirrels share their morning Kiribath (milk rice). On our second day, we walk along the coast. The sea is quite rough. Yet, she’s beautiful. Apart for one soul who’s napping in a hammock with her half-read storybook and a couple who’s chasing waves, we have the whole beach to ourselves. The off-season in West Coast is quiet. While guidebooks advise you to not travel during the off-season, far from maddening crowds, it’s become our favourite time to travel. Nathan walks through empty seaside restaurants and spots tiny fishes. Those who grace tiny seawater lagoons. Only to talk about it later that night over coffee, and how travel has made him happier. (Also read: A trip to Sigiriya and Back of Beyond Dehigaha Ela)
As we said goodbye to Palm Paradise, the monsoon greeted us back from its much-needed break. A short tuk journey later to Tangalle town, we boarded our bus to Matara, only to realise ten minutes later that it was going through the countryside. Half-disappointed, we sit back on our seats. The bus drives past tiny houses, painted in bright pop-up hues and covered in pink bougainvillea. The local bus goes past green paddy fields and a herd of cows. Our faces brighten up and soon, we started loving our two hour journey.
And, boy, isn’t it beautiful to collect memories, not things?