You’ve heard of those timeless travel cliches. The ones that tell you to travel by yourself and only then will you truly know who you are? Well, I did. My solo girl’s adventures in Trincomalee were a beautiful combination of star gazing, scuba diving, serenading the ocean and embracing La Dolce Far Niente.
I was happy.
How to get from Colombo to Trincomalee
During my planning stages, there were two affordable ways to get to Trincomalee. Transport options were limited since this was during Sri Lanka’s great fuel crisis (July 2022).
A – By Train – Colombo Fort to Gal Oya. Hop into another train from Gal Oya and on to Trinco.
B – By Bus – Late night luxury bus ride from Colombo to Trinco, which arrives at 4am.
The bus seemed like the least complicated journey. It was direct and I had only the final destination to get off in. But it arrived before the sun could rise, so I had to ask my hotel to pick me up from the bus stop.
Avro Travels Bus to Trinco
After deciding between Superline and Avro Travels, I went with my gut and called the latter. Booked my seat, requested for a seat at the front, and preferably next to another lady. and Voila! C’est fini! Easy peasy.
The journey itself was around 6 hours. It was smooth, safe and comfortable. It wasn’t too cold inside and the music wasn’t too loud. I say this because, usually, long distance buses in Sri Lanka (at least along the south and west coast) think their buses are a live concert venue.
I managed to sleep for less than an hour through the ride. Once we reached Habarana – a.k.a. elephant zone, my eyes were glued to the windscreen. I was eager to spot a friendly giant. And half-ready to hurl myself at the driver, in the unlikely event, I spotted one on the dark road and he didn’t. In doing so, I’d have rather crashed the bus onto a tree, than on to an elephant.
The entire stretch of road is open to the island’s jungles. Which means there are herds of elephants crossing the road. The road was dark, with no street lamps, so you can imagine how bad my anxiety was! I DID, spot a few friendly giants, on the side of the road as we zoomed past.
Trinco – Day 1
I arrived a little after 5:30 am, and was picked up by my hotel, a short distance away. After a wee nap and breakfast, I headed into town to visit the famous Koneswaram Temple and Lover’s Leap.
Hailing a tuk tuk was near impossible (#FuelCrisis2022). If you did manage to get one, you’d end up paying an exorbitant amount.
The fitness guru in me decided to walk. I mean, I had all the time in the world to get there. Google Maps did say it was about 6 KM away- so it can’t be too far right? But KMs are definitely longer than the city. After 3 KM, I got bored of walking by myself in a new town. I gave up shortly after. Hailed a tuk for 500rs. Which was WELL WORTH IT, considering the temple is on a hill. There was no way my legs would have made that uphill battle. Certainly not after walking 6 KMs, so I was grateful for the tuk tuk ride.
Koneswaram Temple is one of the oldest and most sacred temples on the island. It was built during the Chola dynasty and the Five Dravidians of the early Pandyan Kingdom. Perched on top of Konesar Malai, on a cliff, the temple overlooks the eerie blue waters of the Indian Ocean.
In the 1600s, the Portuguese destroyed the temple and built Fort Frederick around it. Numerous statutes were also thrown over the cliff during this era.
Lover’s Leap was closed off. Possibly on account of receiving a tip off that I was visiting. Why’s that funny? (Dark humour here). Lover’s Leap is named so, because a few couples used it to declare their eternal (usually forbidden) love, before plunging to the depths of the damning ocean below. True story.
I made way back, passing through local vendors selling trinkets, snacks and baskets of offerings. Got a tuk just outside the Fort gates for 600 rs, and reached the hotel just before noon.
I spent the rest of the day drinking beer while lounging under a thatched umbrella on the beach. La vie est belle!
Trinco Beach Hotel is a good place to relax by the beach, and do absolutely nothing with yourself. There are quite a few fishermen during the day pulling their nets in, so if you can stomach the ‘looks’ and occasional catcalls, this is good spot.
Scuba Diving in Trincomalee
Scuba diving in Trinco was beautiful. The water was perfect, no current, no waves, great visibility and warm. We visited 4 dives sites, saw a butt load of marine life from moray eels to anemone fish, sting rays and octopi, some religious statues, coins, and plenty of coral.
Diving season in Trinco – the best season for diving in Trincomalee is from June until September.
Dive site 1 – Navy Island
Sighting – Lion fish, moray eels, live corals, etc.
Dive site 2 – Navy Museum
Depth – 19.8m
Sighting – Shrimp, Anemone fish, Shipwrecks, Blue Spotted Eagle Ray, Statues, etc.
Dive site 3 – Swami Rock
Depth – 22.9m
Sighting – Statues, Anemone fish, Stone fish, Octopus, Longfin banner fish, Nudi branch, Coins, Titan triggerfish, Trumpet fish, Morays, etc.
Dive Site 4 – Middle of Sandy Bay
Sighting – Octopus, Blue Spotted Eagle Ray, Box fish, Trumpet fish, Pufferfish, Lobster shell, Morays, Lionfish, etc. This was my favourite dive site from the lot.
After my dives, I spent the rest of my time dipping in and out of the sea and laying on the beach. Writing, reading and enjoying the sound of the sea. I didn’t get a lot of reading done because novels are REALLY tiresome to read when you have the attention span of a donkey. That’s why I wrote a book like Imperfect Words. You could read a few pages, or even just one, without shutting out from the rest of the world and still be completely aware of your surroundings. You can dip into the sea, come back and turn over a new page with a new story – hope you appreciate the metaphor.
Horror Story in Trinco
Does any girl have a story about travelling alone, without at least one incident of being harassed or abused? Unlikely.
Except for the catcalling fishermen, I had two particular incidents that made me uncomfortable. So much so, that I was scared to leave my room, and wanted to immediately teleport home.
Two men, on my second night and my third afternoon (my last day) approached me about coming to my room to ‘visit’ me, for a ‘good time’. Both knew which hotel I was in, and both situations put me in a state of fear.
But thankfully, of the friends I did find the courage to confide in – purely because I didn’t want to freak myself out by being more vocal about it. Tell the wrong person and they’d end up freaking you out more than you already were by planting the worst possible scenarios in your head. The ones I did speak to reassured and comforted me, and one even offered to call in known contacts in the area to help me, if required.
I felt safer knowing there were people who had my back, and knew where to find me, if I was murdered. Walls that I thought would protect me, in the end, doubled as shoulders to lean on.
I had my dinner in my room, and chilled inside, until it was time to catch my bus at 10:30pm.
Trinco to Colombo
I reserved my bus seat back to Colombo with the same company. Unfortunately, my seat was next to another lady, who was coughing profusely, sneezing and blowing her nose like an elephant blowing its trunk. I was convinced she had COVID. Imagine! 2 years of dealing with this pandemic and people are still dumb enough to travel around in a public a/c bus without a mask. I hoped to all the dieties, that my mask and hoodie that shielded my face was enough to protect me from her germs.
I reached Dehiwala, Colombo by 4:30am. Bid adieu to the driver and conductor – who were the same ones that took me to Trinco. And got home at dawn.
- First solo trip – ✔️
- Alive and intact – ✔️
- Will I solo travel again – ✔️✔️ ✔️