Yesterday we arrived in Batticaloa....still rarely visited by tourists. After spending a few days with our Sr Lankan/Australian friend and family in Kandy, we have headed far away from the tourist trail. Our intention is to go up the eastern coast of Sri Lanka from here, via Trincomalee to Jaffna, then down the West coast to Mannar. All these areas were stronghold of the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) or the Sri Lankan military during the long civil war, and are only just opening to travel...locals included.
The landscapes on the way here were lovely....seeing wild elephants in the grass at the roadside was spectacular!
I have been in Sri Lanka 3 times during the war and have not been able to visit these places before.

Batticaloa has suffered terribly, although it is barely visible in the cheerfully coloured town, where growth is visible (good roads and infrastructures). It is a predominantly Tamil town, but we have spoken to people who tell of murders of Tamils who refused to join the LTTE, and mass killings of the Tamil Tigers.
As if that was not bad enough, and being isloated from the world by war for so long, the 2004 tsunami also took a great toll of this lovely coastal town.
Yesterday we walked along the beach here, seeing shells of buildings and broken temples, thrown about like Lego blocks by the tsunami on the area directly behind the beach.
Lots of NGOs are here and much rebuilding has gone on. The government also is putting lots of resources into these war ravaged areas. They are, surprisingly, doing amazing things...the Goverment, I mean. I read in the local paper that they are bringing in pension schemes for fishermen, urging people to establish and belong to trade unions, establishing training colleges for tourism and hospitality, upgrading hospitals and schools....
We will go a bit later to explore the old Portuguese Fort in the town...which then became Dutch (VOC)...and then British...over several hundred years.
We also heard the legendary "singing fish" of Batticaloa last night...a full moon night. They emit a strange, single note high sound.....and as we are at a rustic guest house on the lagoon, we were close enough to hear them.
We are travelling with a car and driver this time, as further north, roads are uncertain. There are still military checkpoints, and some areas are still have land mines.
Our own Australian government warings say "Do NOT travel to these areas"...
I've always been one to ignore warnings...
Off to explore now.......