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Pink Fox, Our First Workaway

The view from 'sunset point'

It is very difficult to put our time at Pink Fox into words. It was such a memorable experience and undoubtedly our highlight of Sri Lanka.

We left Arugam Bay not knowing what to expect from our first Workaway experience. We didn’t know much about where we were going other than it was a lakeside resort called Pink Fox which needed a lot of work. When I saw the lake for the first time I was amazed by its beauty, and somehow it felt like we were really supposed to be there.

A view of Malayadi Tank

Pink Fox is located on Malayadi Tank, a big lake in the middle of the jungle, with the only shops a 15 minute motorbike ride away. This meant that on occasion we would juggle crates of lion beer, sticks of building bamboo, and the days grocery shop all on the back of the bike. This was all a memorable enough experience in itself.

Priya and James on the no brake motorbike!

While the location of the lake was amazing, it was the people we met during our time at Pink Fox that really made it the highlight of Sri Lanka. Carol and Tra were the best Workaway hosts we could have asked for and they are now our great friends. On our first evening we were greeted by Tra carrying a big ‘welcome crate’ of Lion beer towards the lakeside campfire. Our expected detox didn’t quite go to plan. This would become the first of many nights sat around a campfire with beer, a drum, a guitar, a lot of singing and a bottle of Arrack.

Carol and Tra at 'sunset point'

We made a great circle of friends at the lake, and we collectively became the ‘Pink Fox family.’ We became Sarah nangi(little sister) and James malli(little brother). Getting to know Sri Lankan people was so special, and we have made some friends that I’m sure will keep us coming back to Sri Lanka again and again. We quickly learnt that Sri Lankans have a brilliant sense of humour – they are even more sarcastic than the English and are never shy to poke fun at newcomers. Tra, Lathika, Priya, Sudu, Lalith – we can’t find the right words, so thank you for making us continually laugh, for sharing all your amazing musical talents, for teaching us the words to ‘Sheela Sheela Hey!’, and for teaching us all the Sinhalese swear words!

Sudu rowing us out for sunset

Priya acting as our anchor!

Lathika...our other helmsman!

Lalith preferred to watch from shore with his binoculars!

We saw a few other Workawayers come and go from the lake – each of them with amazing stories, and each leaving their special mark on Pink Fox. We spent the most time with Alex (England), Delia (Switzerland) and Julian (Austria) – and even returned to the lake for a week long reunion before the end of our time in Sri Lanka. Alex and Delia were a fantastically creative couple who were just as up for gin and Lion nights as we were! Both of them had been travelling for eight months and been painting artworks at various hostels and homestays. I found their willingness to give all their time and creativity to these works really inspiring, and a big thanks to Alex in advance for all the India advice! Julian, or King Julian, was a great late addition to our time at the lake, and his ability to live in the moment was certainly something to aspire to. Thanks so much to these guys as well for really making our experience the best it could be.

Alex and Delia

King Julian!

One of Alex's amazing creations

The England v Sri Lanka volleyball match (ft. umpire Priya)

Alex, Priya and James stand and look at the BBQ

When we weren’t laughing around a campfire, we were laughing with a paintbrush, hammer, or sand blaster in our hands. Believe it or not, we did work hard, but it was just as fun as all the other times. Carol’s ideas for the lake were so inspiring, and it was so incredible to see them transform the place during our three week stay. Each of us became more and more resourceful as the days passed, and we would make all sorts of decorative ‘things’ out of wood from the surrounding jungle. Having the luxury of time allowed us to spend full days making loo roll holders (James’ handy carpentry skills), painting old clay pots, and making decorative wooden hangers. This level of resourcefulness and willingness to give time to the smaller projects is something we both hope to take back to England.

Day two...plastering the walls

Finally, a few memorable moments at Pink Fox:

Intro No. 1 - The Elephant (on our first night).

On our first evening we were all sat having dinner when we heard what sounded like a bulldozer crashing through the trees. Priya and Tra quickly jumped to their feet shouting alliya, alliya (elephant, elephant), at which point we all ran towards the direction of the sound. Somewhere in the surrounding jungle an elephant was making its way toward the lake. This was our first intro to the jungle!

Intro No. 2 - The Snake.

One evening I decided to turn in early and leave the others to the singing and arrack. Slightly tired and hungover from the night before, I wandered towards the outside bathroom to brush my teeth. To my delirious surprise, I was closely accompanied by a pretty large wild snake! Half questioning whether I was seeing things, I went back over to the campfire to tell the others. Instantly, the four Sri Lankans jumped up and ran to the ‘dangerously poisonous’ snake. Myself feeling partially responsible, we then witnessed the killing of the poor snake. Ironically the song playing at the time of the murder was ‘Live Forever’ by Oasis.

England vs, Croatia World Cup semi-final

Our time at Pink Fox coincided with the World Cup semi-final. We worked especially hard this day to ensure that the main living area was decorated and that the TV was re-installed. Our fun evening of drinking with Priya and Sudu before kick-off, and then their surprise homemade flag and England headbands, made the game one of our highlights at the lake, even despite the result.

My headband was a little small...


Our many trips to either ‘sunset point’ or out on the boat to see the beautiful sunset will always stay in my memory, and I am so excited to return and see it again one day. The beauty of it was that every sunset was different, and every time we would pick out different patterns and objects from the red hued clouds above us. If Lathika was on-board the boat with us our trip was usually accompanied by the humming of The Pirates of the Caribbean theme music.

Cynthia and Kamal cloud spotting

James and Lassi at 'sunset point'

The Innocent Crocodiles

Early on during our stay the Sri Lankans managed to convince us that no crocodiles swam on ‘our side’ of the lake, making it safe to bathe and swim in. They assured us that any passing crocs were innocent ones that preferred kisses to bites. For three weeks we believed them, seeing no evidence of the toothy reptiles. However, as we were saying our goodbyes during our first stay there was a crocodile spotted, clearly swimming on ‘our side’ of the lake. Let’s just say on our next stay I stuck to a lot shallower shores.

The fishermen didn't seem to mind the crocodiles!

The Jungle Party (see next post!)

Thank you to the entire Pink Fox family, we will most certainly be back.


James' Lassi

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