Mr Koddikara’s Hotel & Mrs Khalid’s restaurant, Galle

The Tuk Tuk driver who picked me up from Galle train station warned me not to go to Mr Koddikara’s. ‘It’s dirty,’ he said, ‘and expensive.’ I figured he was just after taking me to a place where he could get a commission, so insisted on Koddikara’s place. I’m glad I did. This is the view you get of the hotel from the road, just before you go into the front garden.

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It was late morning when I arrived and it took a few minutes to find anybody. Mr Koddikara and his family live downstairs, and they were all having a siesta. Still, Mr Koddikara, or ‘Kodi’ as he likes to be called, soon woke up and showed me to 1 of the 4 rooms he has available upstairs. It was a bit dirty, like, the sheets hadn’t been changed since the last traveller had left (it was low season and they probably weren’t expecting any other traveller to come along as I did), but they were soon changed and the floor swept and I settled in. The price was right, about £3 a night for a double en-suite, and more than that, the feeling was too. Below is a shot of my room. As you can see it is basic, but spacious. The shower always had hot water, although it was so warm there in Galle that all I ever did was take cold showers, and the toilet flushed fine. There is no air-con, but the roof has a space near where it meet the walls that allows air to circulate, and also there was a fan and a sea breeze. I’d think twice before taking the rooms downstairs though, they must have been stuffy.

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Kodi is a good host, his family are friendly too, and it was a nice experience to stay in such an old, character filled, colonial style house. I checked a number of other guesthouses out in the near vicinity and although they were perfectly ok and cleaner they all lacked a local feel, you could have been anywhere if you’d stayed there such was their blandness, and also they were all much, much more expensive.

There were very few tourists there when I visited, it was out of season (this means it’s more windy – there was no rain at all when I was there for a week in October) and also, the civil war was still on then. Consequently, I could just turn up at Kodi’s and get a room. He told me that in season he raises his prices and that he rarely has a room spare, so if you’re planning on visiting him, email or call to reserve.

It’s a 1 minute walk from Kodi’s place to the ramparts and their wonderful views. The ramparts are about a km long, and make a nice circuit for a run either early in the day or later, after sunset (it’s too hot to run there at any other time). The only downside is that there’s no beach nearby.

Mr Koddikara’s has a small restuarant serving basic Sri Lankan and Western food. It was fine, adequate, nothing you’d write home about. But I’d heard of a place nearby that was meant to be one of the best eating experiences in Sri Lanka, so I decided to check it out.

It is called Mrs Khalid’s, and it’s a few minutes walk from Kodi’s place. Mr Khalid offers traditional home cooked meals for a good price (about £4). The Rough Guide says her food is ‘one of the most memorable rice and curry spreads on the island’. The guidebook advises you to reserve, so I did, at midday, and turned up at about 7 to eat.

I was the only person there and I was shown to a family home-like front room. TV was on in the background, very low, and I felt comfy. I sat at a large wooden table and 6 dishes were served to me, pictured below.

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I can’t remember all the names of the dishes now, but I remember my verdict. It was well cooked, and the portions were large enough, but taste wise it was dissapointing. I wasn’t ever going to get sick from it, but I was left wondering why so there was so little difference in the spices used for each dish (it was just varying degress of basic curry spice mix, but not much coriander, cumin, cardamon, lime, etc), and also why the textures where so similar (all vegetables were well cooked, but perhaps overcooked, as everything was rather soft/sloppy). There was none of the varying tastes and textures of South Indian/Sri Lankan food I’ve had before. Each dish was, spice wise, either very hot or not hot at all. I travelled around Sri Lanka for 6 weeks in all and had some wonderful meals, but this wasn’t one of them, which was a shame as the ambience is nice, as are the staff. So, if you’re in the area and stuck for food (which you might be; there’s a lack of decent eating options in Galle Old Town), give Mrs Khalid’s a visit. You won’t be swept off your feet, but you won’t be taken off to the toilet quick smart either, so that’s something.

Neither place has a website, but if you want to stay at Mr Koddikara’s then email or call
Tel: 091-222 2351
Email: kodi.galle@lanka.com.ll

And if you want to reserve a meal at Mrs Khalid’s, then just drop in a few hours before, or email or call
Tel; 091-2234907
Email; khalid@dialogsl.net

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