Tangalle is a very small beach town about a 1 hour drive from Mirissa. We decided to spend another 3 lazy days on the beach before heading to the mountain town of Ella . The town itself has a small market and few shops along the main street but the beaches are the main attraction for travellers.
We stayed at the Eden hotel which is located on the main road outside the city and close to the small beach coves around. This is a little hotel with great service, breakfast and delicious food for lunch and dinner. Apart from the time we were out on the beach, we spent most of time reading and having our own gin and tonics in the garden. The owner didn't mind giving us lime and ice as we bought tonic from the restaurant.
The small beaches nearby the hotel were beautiful though we needed to watch where we swam as there were a few rocks underneath. One morning, we took a tuk tuk down to the city to visit the market and take some photos. The sellers in the market were so friendly to us, always smiling and greeting us. I don't think they are very used to foreigners visiting their stalls. We took away some freshly ground spices to make curries back in Hanoi.
After our time in Tangalle, the hotel owner offered to drive us to Ella, a 4 hour trip. He's a very careful driver and also pointed out things of interest along the way. It is great to learn by getting insight from the local people rather than from guidebooks.
We arrived in Ella, famous for waterfalls and trekking and as a gateway to Sri Lanka's tea plantations. Ella is another small town with one road about a km long unless you walk along the rail way to see the local farms. We stayed in a small hotel which was highly recommended by travelers from agoda. After refreshing a bit, we walked out to check out the town and found a small restaurant next to the hotel and the boy served us beer in a tea pot as they don't have a permit to serve alcohol. It was hilarious when he first came out with the pot and explained there was beer with ice in there. They cooked fresh curry to order even though we had to wait a bit but they were so tasty. I don't mind waiting for great food.
I wasn't so fond of Ella compared to the places we'd visited earlier. There was not as much choice for food and sight-seeing here. Anyhow, we left for Kandy - which is quite a big city in the middle of Sri Lanka - for one more night before going on to our last special place. In hindsight, I wish I could have stayed 2 nights as we stumbled across a great small hotel with a fabulous view over the lake, which reminded a bit of Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi.. We went out for a wander and liked the atmosphere very much. People in Kandy was also very friendly. We bought tea at a traditional tea shop as well as some spicy snacks to eat with beer. The traffic was a bit crazier compared to other places but they all stop for pedestrian crossings, unlike Hanoi. We rushed ourselves back to the hotel as a big thunderstorm approached. It was great having dinner, looking at the city view with lightning and thunder. I love this kind of ambience.