My first shipwreck dive In Sri Lanka and an Intro on diving

Do you remember the movie “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” (ZNMD) and do you also remember the scene where all the three main characters of the movie go scuba diving?? they learn all the signs, do a quick test under shallow water and boom…are scuba diving in the deep-sea. Scuba diving made easy doesn’t it?? well…the truth of the matter is….it isn’t that easy, at least not for me.. Here are the details of my first shipwreck dive in Sri Lanka and a little intro to diving.

Scuba diving was one the main reasons that we did a road trip as a family to Sri Lanka, a couple of weeks back. You can read all about it here. Now before we start on my experience with scuba diving..let me tell you first about my snorkeling disaster the previous day … that Saturday, all of us ( 2 couples and 2 kids)..put on life jackets and started on the boat to the snorkeling site.

During our recent family trip, we decided to also attempt scuba diving. Here is an account of my first shipwreck dive in Sri Lanka
Mommy, come back from snorkeling!!!

The guides / instructor jumped in first, then one by one each of us had to jump in. My brother went in and nicely floated in sea. Next it was my turn..I slowly got down into the sea using steps and tried floating and breathing through mouth ( yes that’s what we need to do)…breathing was okay, but I had not anticipated how choppy the water would be…I panicked and held on tight to the rope which was tied to the anchor and did not move!!! I just swayed in water and just swayed. Snorkeling is floating / swimming in seawater..whereas scuba diving is swimming into the sea. The instructor after seeing my condition, took my hand and guided me through the next 45 minutes of snorkeling.

During our recent family trip, we decided to also attempt scuba diving. Here is an account of my first shipwreck dive in Sri Lanka
Brother and sister all set to dive to the shipwreck

Post my disaster in snorkeling in choppy waters, I was not too confident of my performance with scuba diving..but I did not lose hope and went ahead with my brother for the introduction testing in swimming pool waters, wearing the tanks and fins. Under water since one cannot communicate the usual way, were taught different signs. The sign language includes “Okay”, “Up”, “Down”, “Stop” etc. Whenever the instructor asked us these question under water we have to respond to him…this is how he understands whether we are doing okay under water. Once we understand these signs, he takes us slowly to the deeper end of the pool to equalize the pressure and to understand how we withstand the pressure going deeper into water. The pressure / pain in the ears is all normal ( very similar to flying in a plane) while one is going deeper into water and one has to pinch the nostrils and swallow at the same time for the ears to pop…

During our recent family trip, we decided to also attempt scuba diving. Here is an account of my first shipwreck dive in Sri Lanka
All Okay

Since the swimming pool session was okay, I got back some hope and enthusiasm for scuba diving. The next day early in the morning, my brother, myself and our instructor Mahendran started out in a boat to for our first shipwreck dive in Sri Lanka. Mahendran was an experienced diver, he had been diving for almost 16 years and had completed over 2000 dives. We went into the sea for about 15 – 20 minutes before Mahendran and another instructor geared up. The other instructor (don’t remember his name), jumped in first with our boats anchor. Once he had anchored our boat to the ship wreck…we all had to get into the sea one by one (not an easy task for me 🙂 esp after the snorkeling performance). Once you are all geared up with the fins, mask and tank..you can’t walk 😀 …all that you need to do is sit at the edge of the boat, back facing the sea and go back into the water..head first..plop!!! Thankfully I did that without too much effort..phew.

During our recent family trip, we decided to also attempt scuba diving. Here is an account of my first shipwreck dive in Sri Lanka
Holding the yellow rope and going deeper to the shipwreck

Once into the water I struggled a little bit (the water was very choppy), hyperventilated also a little bit and held on to the instructors hand really tight. He was really understanding and slowly took me to the yellow rope connecting the anchor and the boat. We went down really slowly, Mahendran kept checking with me if I was “Okay” at all times. Half way to the shipwreck, my left ear started paining a lot and i signaled regarding that to Mahendran. We stayed put at this depth for a little while and once i was okay we slowly went deeper into the water.

During our recent family trip, we decided to also attempt scuba diving. Here is an account of my first shipwreck dive in Sri Lanka
Fishes and more fishes…

The shipwreck was at depth of 7.5 metres, the four of us slowly swam around it. The water was quite murky and the visibility was not great, in spite of that we could see variety of fishes, corals and also the shipwreck.

I could only hear my breathing and the bubbles coming out through the tube and nothing else…total silence. It was a surreal experience, watching the fishes go by their own life as if we did not exist. The sheer colours on the fishes, colonies of fishes passing us ( I don’t know the names of the fishes) was amazing to see.

During our recent family trip, we decided to also attempt scuba diving. Here is an account of my first shipwreck dive in Sri Lanka
Sea life around us
During our recent family trip, we decided to also attempt scuba diving. Here is an account of my first shipwreck dive in Sri Lanka
The shipwreck

With my fear slowly going away, I started enjoying the dive, looking at the sea life, the different parts of the ship..I think we saw the propeller (the metal on the edge was still in shiny condition) and one long tube kind of thing. We also saw an adult and small baby fish swimming really close to us..this was something that i had not thought I would experience…pure joy.

During our recent family trip, we decided to also attempt scuba diving. Here is an account of my first shipwreck dive in Sri Lanka
Just swimming casually

While on the beach Mahendran showed us a casing in which he could put his normal point and shoot camera to take pictures under water. Well…that was a great chance for us to get our pics under water, we immediately gave our SD card ….yay we were getting pictures of our first shipwreck dive in Sri Lanka. Under water, I also spotted a “Nemo” fish (as my daughter would call it), commonly known as a clown fish..it was thrilling and yet very calming experience.

During our recent family trip, we decided to also attempt scuba diving. Here is an account of my first shipwreck dive in Sri Lanka
coral life
During our recent family trip, we decided to also attempt scuba diving. Here is an account of my first shipwreck dive in Sri Lanka
coral life

After about 45 minutes, we came back to the yellow rope and slowly started ascending to the boat. Once seated in the boat after, i remembered the scene when Hrithik Roshan completes his dive in ZNMD movie…i quite felt like that.

During our recent family trip, we decided to also attempt scuba diving. Here is an account of my first shipwreck dive in Sri Lanka
Coral reef

Was I scared to get in choppy waters..yes of course….but did i love the experience of my first shipwreck dive in Sri Lanka…of course yes…would i do it again and again…of course yes!!!

The sea water had gotten more choppy when we were returning after our first shipwreck dive….but i didn’t care. With my wet curly hair flying all over, all i could think was where i would go to do my next dive?? Time to figure out a place to do my PADI certification !!!

My Thoughts after our first shipwreck dive in Sri Lanka:

  1. Do not fear the water but be very respectful of it.
  2. Trust your diving partner / instructor.
  3. Try and get some pictures.
  4. Be calm and slowly get accustomed to breathing through the mouth.
  5. Last but not the least….enjoy every minute of the dive…

Scuba diving was a small part of our recent road trip in Sri lanka. It was a full on… fun trip…more trip posts coming up 🙂

 

Road trip in Sri Lanka with family

One leg in train or flight and one leg at home..yes that’s what best denotes my small family of 3 (myself, hubby and my almost 5 year old daughter), so when my cousin suggested Sri Lanka road trip with his family..well how could we say NO..a little bit of sightseeing, a whole lot of eating, spending time with kids was what we did during our road trip in Sri Lanka.

A simple account of my recent road trip in Sri Lanka with family. Sri lanka is a beautiful country with friendly people and delicious food
Roads of Sri Lanka

Why Sri Lanka??

It is raining everywhere in India in the month of July and lets face it two kids, shut in a hotel room is not great..so we decided to look at destination close to India and where obtaining visa would not be a major job and all this keeping in mind that we have to be in budget. Sri Lanka turned out to be the best bet..why you might ask? well for starters, the flight tickets were not expensive ( INR 10,000 per person – to and fro) and the most important part, the weather in Sri Lanka !!! This time of the year the east coast was dry with no rainfall but having cloudy days with lots of breeze…perfect.

The Journey for our Road trip in Sri Lanka

Using local transport of buses or trains would have been the cheaper mode of transportation but having our own vehicle gave us the flexibility to stop for fresh Litchis, taste local cuisine and drink lots of hot tea (very important :))

road tripping in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka Map : Image courtesy http://younghoteliers.blogspot.com/

The mission – Road trip in Sri Lanka with family
Nos of km to cover – almost 265 km (One way)
Nos of passengers – 4 adults and 2 small kids with one very nice local driver (Piyal)
Nos of hours to cover the distance – 5 hours ( as google map showed us without any breaks…that did not happen 🙂 )
Food items carried – Homemade theplas, some biscuits and apples.

We landed in Sri Lanka late in the night and spent the night at Airport Tourist Hostel, a small family run home stay with very basic but clean facilities. After a good night’s sleep and really good breakfast (eggs, really soft bread, rice and dhal). We 4 adults and 2 kids set out in a van ( 8 seater) on our road trip in Sri lanka.

We started around 9 Am from Negambo (am really grateful that the weather cooperated), decided to reach Pasikuda via Dambulla. The places looked so similar to India, small towns followed by green paddy fields and that was followed by some more small towns..Through out the journey we saw locals selling a variety of fruits and vegetables, fresh Litchis, coconuts, dragon fruits, small round water melons etc etc… they were so fresh and beautiful. We bought Litchis from one of the vendors and oh my…they were red and so sweet. I knew from our previous trip here, that Sri Lanka does not have the big 4 -5 lane highways…but the roads that they do have were fantastic, people in general followed the traffic rules and rarely honked.

A simple account of my recent road trip in Sri Lanka with family. Sri lanka is a beautiful country with friendly people and delicious food
Small little restaurant served us delicious spring rolls

Around 11 am we stopped at this small restaurant for tea and some snacks. Though they did not have any local dish available, we had a really good vegetable spring roll and the lightest rice crackles..This day also marked the start of our hunt for a good chai / tea ( we couldn’t get a kadak cup of tea ).

A simple account of my recent road trip in Sri Lanka with family. Sri lanka is a beautiful country with friendly people and delicious food
On top pf the mountain – Dambulla Cave Temple

After travelling for a couple of hours we reached Dambulla caves, a world heritage site, depicting the life of Buddha using paintings and sculpture. To reach the temple on top, one can use the steps or the paved slope road..since the weather was very nice with lots of breeze we decided to use the steps.

A simple account of my recent road trip in Sri Lanka with family. Sri lanka is a beautiful country with friendly people and delicious food
Dambulla Cave Temple

The Dambulla cave monastery is still functional and is a place of worship hence everyone has to adhere to the local dress code, which means shoulders and knees always need to be covered. Once inside, one gets to see the various sculptures and paintings of Buddha. The rooms are dimly lit and you get to see the flower offering that people have placed.

A simple account of my recent road trip in Sri Lanka with family. Sri lanka is a beautiful country with friendly people and delicious food
Excellent vegetarian Sinhalese buffet food at Sakura

Once we came down, our driver took us to Sakura Restaurant, which served the most delicious and fresh spread of vegetarian sinhalese food. The staff was very friendly and explained to us in detail about the ingredients used in our meal. Sakura is situated on the main road but amidst paddy fields..good food with a view..what else would we want.

The food served was simple yet delicious and costed us only Rs 900 (Srilankan Rs) per person. The best part of the feast was the desert, vanilla flavoured curd served with coconut treacle…oh yummm…i still remember the flavour.

Thankfully we did not have any more stops on the way and managed to reached Amethyst Resort by 5.30 pm. Even before we could finish check in formalities the kids were at the beach. The resort is on a very peaceful stretch of beach…a perfect place to unwind after a long tiring day.

A simple account of my recent road trip in Sri Lanka with family. Sri lanka is a beautiful country with friendly people and delicious food
Play time for mami and kids, Image courtesy my hubby : http://maheshdevarajan.blogspot.com/

The next two days was all about water and food. If we were not snorkeling, or playing in the swimming pool..we were out to have more delicious food.

A simple account of my recent road trip in Sri Lanka with family. Sri lanka is a beautiful country with friendly people and delicious food
Lone boat at Sea, Image courtesy my hubby : http://maheshdevarajan.blogspot.com/
A simple account of my recent road trip in Sri Lanka with family. Sri lanka is a beautiful country with friendly people and delicious food
Menu card at Amritham

It was during one of these trips outside the resort that we came across Amritham (a women run organisation), where the food served is simple, tasty and cheap. The really sweet ladies prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner at the this place.

<img src="https://www.at200deg.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/amritham-1-768x1024.jpg" alt="A simple account of my recent road trip in Sri Lanka with family. Sri lanka is a beautiful country with friendly people and delicious food" width="768" height="1024" class="alignnone size-large wp-image-1626" />
The ladies at Amritham showing the kids how string hoppers are made

We tried their, sinhalese limited meals for lunch, string hoppers, aapam and stew for dinner. On the last day, my brother and myself also attempted scuba diving to a ship wreck …oh what an experience that was..amazing is the only term that i can use.

<img src="https://www.at200deg.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/amritham-1-768x1024.jpg" alt="A simple account of my recent road trip in Sri Lanka with family. Sri lanka is a beautiful country with friendly people and delicious food" width="768" height="1024" class="alignnone size-large wp-image-1626" />
The elephants at Minneriya, Image courtesy my hubby : http://maheshdevarajan.blogspot.com/

From Pasikuda, we stared back towards Colombo and halted at the Gunners Club in Mineriya. At Minneriya we got to see one of the largest gathering of Asian elephants. What a sight it was, a lone tusker, multiple calf’s and a whole bunch of smaller elephants just kidding around. The kids enjoyed the national park thoroughly.

http://maheshdevarajan.blogspot.com/

One of the memorable moments of this road trip in Sri Lanka was to visit a vegetable garden of one of the locals who also had a small restaurant. Te vegetable garden had chillies, rampe ( almost like a Sinhalese variant of bay leaf or lemon grass), ambarella, billing ( a sour fruit like our own gooseberry) and kohilan….such interesting ingredients..

The return back to the airport was all about shopping souvenirs and some local ingredients..we picked up tea, cinnamon and fridge magnets to take home.

The journey of 5 hours was all about music and family..while listening to A.R. Rehman and Illayaraja songs, chitchatting, cracking jokes, we bid adieu to this beautiful country and the green pastures…we will be back soon !!!

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