Sumeera - "When they need money I just give them, I’m happy like this"
Tangalle is one of the biggest towns in the southern part of Sri Lanka. It has around 10.500 people living there and it is most known for its paradise beaches.
On the way to Galle from Arugam Bay, Tangalle is the perfect place to stop for a couple of days. You can have freshly grilled fish with the locals, just like we did with Sumeera.
1. What is your name, where do you come from and what do you do for living?
I am Sumee, and I am an architect and hotel manager/owner. My mother is from Tangalle and my father from Colombo. My family all lives here in Tangalle now. I used to work in Colombo but that was no life for me. I quit my job and I came to live at the beach.
I have a business here, I have two guesthouses, each one with 5 rooms but I want to have 20 rooms in each, it will take me about 8 months to build it. I also have a restaurant and a bar and during high season we make many parties here. I also own 17 fishing boats which is the best business, it’s very good money all year round.
Thankfully, the businesses are going well and I’m able to help out my friends and family, especially my sisters. They are both already married, one married for love and the other was an arranged marriage. It’s not common for women to work in night jobs like hotel management in Sri Lanka; they usually work during the day as garment makers or cooks which don’t bring us much money.
2. What advice would you give to someone like us that just arrived here?
High season here is very different from low season. There are many more people, prices increase, and there are more parties. The tide is also less strong so the waves are smaller and it’s easy tog o in the water. And you’re also less likely to get rain.
So my advice is definitely come during high season (December to May), you’ll get to meet a lot of people from all over the world and it’s always a lot of fun.
3. What would you say is your favourite food?
My favourite food is coconut sambol. It’s a typical Sri Lankan dish with grated coconut, crushed sundried red chillies, onions, Maldive fish, and lime juice. My mother cooks a delicious one.
4. What's your favourite place here?
My favourite place is definitely the Rekawa Turtle Observation center. It’s where you go to see the turtles lay their eggs at night. The turtles not always come out but I have a friend working there that always tells me when they’re coming. Around Tangalle there are also other good places to go, like big standing Buddha with 150 meters high, and the Rock Buddhist temple. Around here, most people are Buddhists.
5. What would be the perfect Sunday afternoon plan?
For me, everyday is Sunday and everyday is a working day. I don’t see the difference.
Many of my friends don’t have as much money as me, but it’s all the same, I’m also a beach boy and I don’t like to show off. So they work with me and when they need money I just give them, I’m happy like this.
But I also know when it’s time to get serious. I always plan things before I do them. Sometimes I just stop everything, sit down at my desk and think about how to make things right. I’m fortunate because my family had some money to give me and I wanted to make sure this was used in the right way, to make business work.
6.What do you usually do for fun?
I love surfing. Every time I get a chance I go surfing. I even give out free surfing lessons to foreigners during high season.
This way I also meet people from everywhere and make a lot of friends from all over the world. In low season I travel, either for surfing or to discover new places or visit the friends I made.
7. Have you ever travelled outside Sri Lanka?
I love to travel. Every time high season ends, I go traveling outside Sri Lanka. I’ve been to Vietnam, India, Bali and even in France, but my favourite place is Thailand because it’s so beautiful and relaxing, and of course Bali because of the surfing.
8. What would you like to ask our next host?
What’s your dream job? (read answer here)
Tips & Recommendations
Visit the fish market early in the morning. Everyday fishermen come back from the sea at around 6am to sell their fish, mostly to the local businesses. There are hundreds of colourful boats on the dock and fishermen lay their fish on the ground.
Rent a kayak by the lagoon at sunset. You might even be able to see some crocodiles.
See the ancient Buddhist paintings at the Rock Temple. It’s a 30-minute tuk-tuk ride up the mountain and 500 rupees to enter, but it’s worth a visit and the view is incredible.