The area and the people
In the area of Arugam Bay live approximately 3.500 people. It consists of three small villages, where fishing and farming are the main occupations. The farmers grow rice and keep cattle for production of meat and curd.
Ullae is the fishing village in the corner of the Bay, where the sea is quiet and the land forms a natural fishing harbour. As it is fishing season nearly all year round there is a colourful life on the beach, with plenty of small boats, nets and friendly people.
Being such an attractive spot a whole community of Singhalese fishing families from the West Coast settles down every year in temporary palm huts on the beach.
Most local people in Ullae are families from the Tamil community, Christians and some Hindu. There are some Singhalese families, too. They follow the Buddhist tradition. Intermarriages among Singhalese and Tamil are not uncommon in this area of Sri Lanka.
Ullae has a Singhalese and a Tamil school and lies between Perie Ullae (south) and Sinne Ullae (north).
In Perie Ullae there is a sub-post office, a Mosque, a Muslim school and a predominantly Muslim population. Also in Sinne Ullae the population is mostly Muslim families with a Mosque and a Muslim school.
The nearest town is Pottuvil, 2 km away from the Bay. It has 12.000 inhabitants out of which 80% are Muslim. Pottuvil is a real cowboy-town around a main street with a rather widespread residential nabourhood consisting of many well-built villas as well as more humble palm huts and cottages. In Pottuvil the cowboys ride on bycycle. 5 banks can change cash, traveler´s checks and visa cards only. Additionally there are 5 ATMs.
There is a simple communication centre, a market, and many small shops with the daily needs for the local population of farmers, fishermen and traders. Being dominantly Muslim there are no liquor shops. The nearest liquor shop is in Siyambalanduwa 35 km from Pottuvil, where the population is Singhalese and Buddhist.
Pottuvil has a new rather well equipped government hospital. The hospital's doctors have private clinics in Pottuvil, where they practice in the mornings and evenings.
Public transportation is cheap and mainly in small private vans and three-wheelers. You can also hire a three- wheeler for yourself only. The buses to Moneragala and Colombo leaves early morning from Ullae.
In Moneragala there is a big bus stand with connections to the rest of the island. Every second day in the afternoon a direct bus leaves from Pottuvil for Colombo, arriving there 11-12 hours later. If you hire a car the direct drive to Colombo takes 8 hours, although it is only 320km.
Arugam Bay and Pottuvil are part of Ampara district, which has a population of 42.000 people representing all communities. The general rule is that along the coastline nearly every second village or town is either Tamil or Muslim. The Singhalese communities live further inland.
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