Arne’s Place was the third and final accommodation we stayed at during our five days in Arugam Bay, and the story was something we all found very inspiring and thus well worth mentioning. In their own words, Arne’s Place is the ‘lasting legacy’ of a friendship between local boy, Mubarak, and an Australian surfer called Arne.
Arugam Bay, like much of Sri Lanka’s eastern coast, was devastated by the infamous 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. Families were broken and what was a small fishing community was literally washed away.
When Mubarak and Arne met, ‘Muba’ was working to support five younger siblings as well as his elderly mother. We found Mubarak’s friendliness and positivity admirable – as did Arne, who was so endeared by Muba he offered to finance his Construction and Design course, and then the building of the accommodation itself, which we enjoyed staying in so much.
Unsurprisingly Muba, now the manager, decided to name the hostel after his Australian friend, and the business is able to support the entire family with good food, education and healthcare.
It is no leap to imagine that Muba’s story is not the only inspirational one to come from such tragedy. The town’s transformation is so great that when walking around the bustling tourist destination that Arugam Bay is today, it is easy to forget the loss that the community suffered.
The hotel’s full name, Arne’s Place The Friendliest Hotel, is certainly justified.