Oh how I irritate people!! Plus, sleepy Leopard!
Trip Start Aug 27, 2011
99Trip End Jun 01, 2012
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From Mirissa to Tissa, it takes about 3 hours with a bus change. At the bus change we witness some handbags on a bus, some dude trying to punch another guy! We change in Matara but we have no desire to stay here. Our plan was to arrive in Tissa, relax then organise a tour for the next day then leave the following day.
We make the usual lazy choice of getting off the bus in Tissa and just sit at the bus station catching our breath and wondering what to do? We know there is a good hostel in town but a good 20 minute walk away with our bags. Instead, a random guy with a truck drives us to his family home telling us a lie about the other hostel being taken over by aliens and has moved to Mars!! We acquire a very cheap room (full of mosquitos) and agree to go on a tour from their company of the nearby Yala National Park. They promise driver, guide, breakfast and liquid refreshments.
Tissa is a very small and pretty peaceful town. Some wooden shack shops, little restaurants and lots of safari trucks driving around. We walk in the soaring heat looking for a late lunch and eventually find some nasty Chinese place with disgusting table cloths. I lose my appetite and help Sonja eat some of her meal. The heat really takes it toll!
We never knew how early the town closes down, but when we head out at 8pm to find some dinner, the town now resembles a ghost town. Even the stray dogs were asleep!! Luckily, we find a small shop that sells either Hoppers or bananas. Hoppers are similar to pancakes, but very doughy and look like the shape of a deep bowl. The hoppers are served with some dips to throw in them and you happily eat with your fingers. Oh yes, I forgot to mention earlier, that in Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, people eat with their right hand!! This has taken some getting used to! Your left hand is used at different times!!
The people who run the hoppers place were wonderfully helpful, we drank some tea and ate a few lemon bananas and they kept on trying to feed us more hoppers!! We retired early ready for a 5am start for the Safari.
The Safari started well, the van turned up and we were taken to a coffee house for a quick drink. Nice gesture, till they asked us to pay!! Sonja refused after we had already paid a heavy price for the safari itself. We were joined in our jeep by 3 people from Turkey, 2 men and 1 woman. It was confusing to work out which one was her partner as she kept kissing both, so we assume it was one of those relationships that involves three people! The men never spoke to each other, one was alpha male, the other looked more academic! But, they all had lunch boxes?? But we were told, there was a place where we would be given lunch, so we never asked!!
Yala National park was a thirty minute drive away, when we registered our driver failed to secure a guide...hmmmm....this isn't going well!! We were then told he brought no water or refreshments! Luckily we could stock up on a shop!! Then the safari began! I won't go into crazy specific details, but here are some highlights:
On our arrival we witnessed a stunning sunrise, it seemed like an alien spaceship or maybe a large flying jelly fish was coming out from behind a cloud! Stunning!!
It seemed everyone was very excited about seeing birds! Say for example we saw a Peacock, we ask the driver to stop, take a picture, then move on! By the fourth time we had stopped for a Peakcock, my face was a picture!! I'm sure brother Dave can imagine my frustrated look!
The scenary was spectacular, crocodiles, flamingos, lots of birds, lizards crossing the road, Jackals having a romp on the road, it was all great fun! I have to admit to be more interested in the surroundings than the animals, until we came across some wild elephants. One in particular was stood near a pile or dirt, he was holding some bushes with his trunk, kept kicking dirt on his pile of bushes, then flicking it on his head and body! I was assuming a type of sun block against the hot sun! It was fascinating to watch!!
A bad highlight, but something to blog was our realisation that we were not getting breakfast! I asked around 830am when we were going to eat. The driver looked confused and said he had no food! Oh dear!! The poor driver got some verbal 'assertive' abuse for a few minutes before Sonja started slamming her fists down on the head rest in front of her shouting 'But I'm HUNGRY NOW!!!!'. Put it this way, we were told there was a breakfast provided so we brought no food and after being up since 5 we were getting hungry and didn't like the thought of waiting till after midday to eat. I think the Turks were a little worried, maybe scared, but they offered us some of their sandwiches and they had brought over some Turkish almonds and Chick Peas. It did spoil the rest of the trip for me a little as I was very angry at being let down. The Turks were also promised water but were not given any. It was just a load of rubbish what we were sold. The driver made a big effort to apologise to Sonja and gave her some good news that a leopard had been spottted. We were given on a 50% chance of seeing one, but if you took the full day tour you'd definitely see one. After a few hours, the driver was running out of things to show us. Goodness knows what you do for a full day?
So the Leopard, apparently he had eating a Mongoose and was busy digesting it in the trees. There were loads of other jeeps shuffling for position to get the best shot. The best part was that we was laying in this tree, arm dangling down. Only every now and then did he look up to see what was going on or who just woke him up from Mongoose dreams!! We were there for at least two hours and the pictures were not that great but to see one was a great experience!!
The leopard was the clear highlight but what I also liked was the interaction between different animals. All the Buffalo's have bird friends, birds that follow them eating all the delicious flies I assume, the Elephants had the same too. As we were leaving the National Park, we drove by a Buffalo having a cooling dip in a pond with his bird buddy on his head!! Simply nature at it's best!!
We also passed a few monkeys and one Turkish guy opened his Chick Peas and fed some monkeys for around ten minutes. He shouldn't have been doing this, but he was feeding me Chick Peas as well, so I wasn't going to complain!!
I guess you can imagine my reaction when we returned to our guesthouse. Straight away I asked them about our breakfast? Our drinks? Our guide? The guesthouse owner just laughed in my face!! I find when I am annoyed my an organisation, I just keep repeating myself till they give in. So I repeated myself over and over. The guy got aggressive with me and said in Sri Lanka they 'handle' things differently. The guy who sold us the trip was hanging around but claimed there was no breakfast and the guide was extra blah blah blah. It got quite heated so I walked off to the room for a break. This is when the gusthouse owner hit on Sonja, asked her why she was with me? How could she be with someone like me? Etc etc, so she came in and told me this and I went back out and gave him some more ear bashing. They offered us a free lunch, and when it came out, Sonja just didn't trust if the food was good so we refused it. He asked why and I told him that he had upset Sonja and disrespected me behind my back by questioning her relationship with me. He denied this, saying it was a misunderstanding. When things calmed down, they thought it was over till I brought up the original topic of frustration again and both the guesthouse owner and tour manager guy walked off. Sonja shouted out ' Coward coward liar!' and one of them returned but he soon walked off and hid in a tuk tuk. The situation got to the point where around seven men were outside reception. We went to our rooms, packed our stuff as we didn't feel safe to stay a second night. My plan was to stay the 2nd night and not pay for either but now we would just walk away without paying for one night.
Don't worry, we weren't that worried, it was just an strange amusing situation to find ourselves in and at this point no-one had even apologised for no breakfast and zero water. It's pretty dangerous to be out for 7/8 hours in the heat without water when they said they would provide some and even worse to not feed us for the state of grumpiness!!!!! They saw we were leaving and the guesthouse owner asked for payment. I told him no, he was missing out on say 10% of what the whole tour cost in relation to his guesthouse price so I think he could take the hit! He got aggressive again as I walked past all the other guys but Sonja had stopped walking. I turn around and confirm again we're not paying and for Sonja to follow. He says he doesn't like me but that Sonja is nice and can stay another night!! We leave the compound to see the tour manager hiding in a parked Tuk Tuk and I thank him for ripping us off! Cocks!!
We were supposed to be tired but we walk away with adrenalin pumping through our veins!!
We found a nice cheap buffet lunch from a very friendly cafe owner and walk over to the original hostel we wanted. It was a long walk and luckily got there in time before the heavens opened!! This guesthouse owner suggested from the way we dressed we didn't want a cheap room, I guess it was a compliment but the cheaper the better was fine with us.
And relax!! We headed back into town to try find a hairdresser but failed, grabbed an ice cream and had a long overdue afternoon nap!!
In the evening we cheered ourselves up with more hoppers and the tea bags I had been carrying with me we donated to the hoppers shop to say thank you. We must have had 14 hoppers, tea, bananas and they charged us less than 1 UK pound!! Crazy!!
Next morning we got on our way to head to Ella. There is one bus that passes by Tissa in the morning that is heading to Kandy via Ella. We stopped off at our friendly coconut shop for some breakfast and as we were running late on time (ahem, Sonja taking time eating some weird cake thing) she negotiated a cheap Tuk Tuk to the bus station. It seems our weird Tissa experience was not quite over.
We were not sure where to get the bus from and the Tuk Tuk driver took us to the wrong stop. We asked a girl then a boy stepped in trying to help but was useless. Eventually we found the stop but the useless young boy had followed us, comes over to us and starts talking to Sonja, asking her if she would like a Sri Lankan man. She says no, saying she is with me then we turn away from him. He interrupts saying he was talking but then I give him an ear full. His English is pretty bad so I don't think he understands anything I say, but I thought my arm gestures of 'get lost' would have helped. Still he persisted and called someone!? Uh oh I thought, his older brother?? Haha, no, he called a friend to ask how to say something in English, which was 'Do you want to come to my house?'. 'No!' was the answer. He then asked for my address and phone number......to which he finally understood he should frig off on his merry way!!
Happily, the bus turned up and it was only three hours to Ella, perfect!!
Next stop, Ella.