Colombo to Kandy and Back

Trip Start Dec 08, 2007
Trip End Dec 21, 2007

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My trip to Sri Lanka wasn't quite spur of the moment, but myself and a couple of others had tagged along to what was originally going to be a cricket holiday, as England were playing Sri Lanka at the old sticky bally. I flew from Heathrow 4 days before my friends, as I wanted a full 2 weeks but also wanted to be back for Xmas.

Shortly atfer landing I made my first mistake, getting a taxi from the first agent I saw, who tried to arrange my entire 2 weeks for me (I managed to talk him out of it). I had wanted to stay at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo, but it was all booked up this close to Christmas (almost biblical innit), so my friendly travel guide arranged for me to stay at the next best hotel which was right next door where I promptly left for in a cab (pulled over twice by the police chacking for terrorists, who let us go as soon as they saw me. I think the Tamils just need to dress as pasty tourists in obscure football shirts and they'll control the island in a month). I arrived at the hotel to find a swanky lobby, but the room was at the end of a long corridor, currently undergoing decoration, plenty of loose sparking wires and wet paint. So by next best, I mean even not close, and by next door, I mean not even close. It didn't matter though, after the long day and clock changing I decided some food followed by bed was probably in order. So I ordered room service and promptly feel asleep before it arrived. 

The next day I organised transport to Kandy, the temple town in the centre of the island. The taxi cost $80 which seemed steep at the time, but after a full 8 hour day stopping at various elephant parks, spice gardens etc I didn't begrudge the driver his pay, especially as he drove straight back after dropping me off. Kandy is very picturesque with a man made lake as the centrepiece, the town at one end and plenty of guest houses and temples dotted around the hillsides. I spent a couple of pleasant days wandering around botanical gardens and the little shops where bartering is a sport to which I am not yet fully aquainted (after a couple of polo shirts cost 10 I found they were too big, so took them back the next day and somehow came away with a pair of trousers as well, I am to bartering what Posh Spice is to heavyweight boxing). Although all this moaning about being overcharged may make it seem like it ruins the holiday, it's not the case. Not ideal but it's just something that goes with the territory, like mosquitoes I guess. I did meet some very nice people who were happy to chat and tell you interesting things about Sri Lanka just to practise their English.

On the morning I was due to leave, while having breakfast, I noticed a monkey climbing around the tree just a few metres away. Thinking this was quite special I trotted off to fetch my camera and spent the next 20 minutes snapping the monkey (that's snapping by the way). The waiters kept leaving bits of food at the edge of the balcony for the monkey to fetch but were slightly bemused by my fascination with it. After thinking the monkey was probably going to turn into a prima donna after all the attention it was getting I decided to put the camera away and head down to the station to book my train ticket back to Colombo. On the short walk down to the station I must have seen 2000 monkeys, even having to walk round groups of them rummaging through bin bags at the side of the road, now I realised why the waiters were bemused by my fascination.

The return ticket to Colombo cost 75p second class, I was going to spalsh out the extra 50p for first but it was full. Still the extra $78.50 did let me see the elephants eh?

So the next day I left my nice hotel (would be highly recommended but I have forgotten the name) and got a rickety but scenic train ride to Colombo, where I found a different hotel and went for some grub. The grub by the way, consists of curry and curry related dishes, all of them fantastic and varying vastly in 'levels of spiceiness'.

A few drinks and a wander around Colombo did for me that evening, I had been given a free pass to a night club adjoined to the hotel, but after my 18000th delicious and sizeable curry, I decided against it. The next day was a big day, Kerry, Tim, Marc and Rob were landing from England and I had the arrange transport up to the airport and then down to Galle in the south of the island. This journey was not far, but Sri Lankans haven't ploughed down the jungles to make way for dual carriages just yet, so the going is slow.

Just to keep you reading to the next chapter (the following events may not be accurate):

Gunshots awoke me with a start (as you would imagine) so I leapt out of my bed into a fighting stance. My taxi driver was trapped by a group of five Tamil Tigers and I knew the only way I could get to the airport to rendezvous with my team was for me to deal with the situation. I leapt from the balcony taking the first two out with well aimed double scissor kick (with a pirouette on landing). Using the gun I had taken from one I got another two as they were turning to see who the handsome intruder with daring eyes and a lean fighting body (these bits are OBVIOUSLY very accurate). I grabbed my terrified taxi driver and made for the van as the final terrorist sprayed bullets all around us. A chase ensued and we made our through the streets of Colombo, this involved speeding up to dizzying speeds of 8-10 mph, before the traffic jam we were no doubt in caused us to slow again. After rounding a bend on two wheels we hit a patch of oil and careered into the barrier protecting us from the long drop to the rocky coast and sea. The barrier took most of the blow but buckled so we were hanging from the edge, our pursuer (on a moped) skidded into the barrier and flew over the handlebars, luckily (for him) he managed to catch the bumper of the van and held on for his life, leaving the van teetering over the edge with it's occupants staring into certain death ... or is it?

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