Most people know of the main must-do’s in Sri Lanka – see wild Elephants and leopards, ride the train from Ella to Kandy, drink an “arrack attack” in a king coconut under a palm tree, see the Nine Arches Bridge in Demodara, visit the tea plantations and, obviously, eat plenty of kottu, naan and hoppers.
An awesome, yet (almost) unheard-of travel experience: get a custom-made bikini in Sri Lanka! This was one of the best things I did while visiting the Pearl of the Indian Ocean and would recommend it to every woman visiting.
In Arugam Bay a lovely gentleman named Chaminder runs his own store making tailor bikinis.
Where to find Chaminder:
Chaminder’s store is called Apsara, you won’t find it on Google though and you’ll need sharp eyes to spot in on the street. We went past the store about three times trying to find it and, when we eventually did, it was closed. Fortunately when we returned the following day Aspara was open and easier to spot.
The store is tiny with bikinis hanging in the front and through the glass you’ll see Chaminder sitting at his sewing machine whipping up his amazing creations.
Directions: On A-Bay’s main street: Panama Road. Opposite the Pacific Hotel and the large ATM sign. Look out for the small Aspara sign.
When: Aspara is open during the season. Chaminder divides his time between Hikkaduwa and A’Bay (May – October in A-Bay).
Before you go:
If there is a specific design you’d like Chaminder to create, then bring along a screenshot, or have an idea in your mind of what you’d like.
What happens once you get there:
Choose the fabric:
The store is small, but filled with hundreds of different colours and patterns of swimwear fabric. Wander through the store and select a fabric you like the look of. The brightest red in the store stood out to me so I collected that and showed Chaminder. He took the fabric, cut off a square and stuck it into his notebook.
Select the design:
He then asked if I had a design that I’d brought with me. I hadn’t brought anything, as I just wanted to see what I’d liked the look off in the store. He showed me a few different options and I selected a top with a band underneath the bust and a criss-cross back. Then for the bottoms he asked about shape, height etc. I explained what I wanted and he drew it all up in his notebook.
I brought George along for the process as I thought it might be a little uncomfortable having a man I’ve never met measure me up for a bikini (I needn’t have worried as Chaminder is a real professional and made the process super quick and in no way awkward). There’s a small changing area so the process is private too. He measured my bust, waist, hips, thighs and bikini height and it was all done in about one minute.
Pay a deposit:
With that all done, Chaminder put everything down in his notebook and gave me a deposit slip. The bikini would be ready in four days time (so if you’re staying a short time in A-Bay make sure you get it done early in the trip) and I needed to pay a $2000 LKR deposit.
Picking up the bikini:
Four days later we returned to Aspara and, as promised, my red bikini had been created in the exact style we’d discussed. He handed it to me to try on, while he carried on working away on his sewing machine. George’s reaction said it all, “Wow! That is the best bikini you have ever owned. It fits you perfectly. You look amazing”.
Success! I couldn’t be happier with it.
I paid Chaminder the remaining $3000 LKR ($5000 all up, $40 AUD) and thanked him profusely.
If you’re in Arugam Bay this is an absolute must-do experience. To have a bikini that fits so perfectly, and doesn’t move around when I’m in the ocean, is fantastic.