Seaweed sellers on the beach
Each morning during our stay in Hikkaduwa in March 2014 we saw giant sea turtles in the shallow waters, just a few metres from the shore, on the beach outside the Chaaya Tranz Hikkaduwa hotel.
There would invariably be a crowd of tourists gathered around feeding and stroking the turtles. The tourists enjoyed feeding seaweed to the turtles, and the turtles enjoyed eating right from the tourists' hands.
Enterprising locals have wised up to this and can be seen walking along the beach selling plastic carrier bags full of seaweed.
They will charge whatever price they can get away with. On our first morning, we were approached by a man who tried to sell us a bag of seaweed for 500 Rs (£2.50). After a bit of haggling, Emma eventually agreed (against my advice!) to purchase a bag for 200 Rs (£1.00).
After the first morning, Emma decided to take a carrier bag along with her and bag up the seaweed herself (at no cost!) outside our hotel (Appolo Hotel). We would then make the short walk along the beach ignoring the advances of the seaweed sellers!
Avoid like the plague.
I was only in Hikaduwa for one day and, frankly, I did not need to waste my time here. This tip will be short, as was my visit. I wandered in, on the suggestion of my guidebook and managed to find a seat at the seafront eating area. Note that I found it, there was no assistance whatsoever from the staff. I sat and waited for a menu. Then I waited some more. When that was over, I waited again. Nobody came near me.
Regrettably, travel websites and guidebooks are very much a double edged sword. As soon as places get featured in, shall we say, Lonely Planet, they think they have made it (usually correctly) and don't even make the effort. Sadly, this is one of the very few places in Sri Lanka that has disappointed me and I do not offer this as a denigration of that wonderful country, which I love. Perhaps I should have employed the Russian system of bellowing at the waiters (there were many Russian speakers there, as there seem to be all over Sri Lanka) but I just could not be bothered.
After 20 minutes of being totally ignored, I walked out and went to a decent restaurant.
Forget the guidebooks, this place has lost it's way badly.
Unique Suggestions: You don't have to, there are literally dozens of proper places within five minutes walk.
These guys will have the fillings from your teeth. They are con men and shoud be avoided at all costs, by simply saying no. Sometimes this needs back up of saying it several times, but avoid them. They are constantly talking about the tsunami and how it has financially crippled them, but this is not the case, a lot of people from nations who they are trying to rip off helped them, they just want more. Dont ask the beach restaurant owners to help you, they wont tell them to go away and are just as bad. Buddes Beach Bar (added 1000rps to our bill) and Blue Note hotel (Waiter asked for operation money) are prime examples of this, with even the waiters doing the same. If you want a massage, souveniers or anything they sell, go to the shops or centres and buy there.
Along the main road they also walk as well. For example, we paid 1600rps for some Aloe Vera Oil, then 2 days later saw the exact bottle in the super market for 150rps.
You will hear stories of needing rupees for operations for their mother or children, health care is free; 1% of cases need private referrals. You will be invited for lunch at their houses, this is a trap, the kids will be coughing and looking ill and you will end up paying more than a restaurant for your meal.
Simple solution is dont start a conversation. They ask where you are from, what work you do and where you are staying. Not to be friendly, just weigh up your financial situation. Tell them you are unemployed and from Russia is some advice given to us. Once contact is made they will not leave you alone, i had 5 of them sitting on my lounger at one stage.
Keep cigarettes hidden, they just help themselves.
Unique Suggestions: Just say no to them. I said "i work hard in the UK and rarely see my girlfriend, so i want to make the most of my holiday" this reduced the harrasment to once every three days instead of three times a day.
Fun Alternatives: Find a hotel where you can use the pool, with out cost, just buying some lunch there.
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