Trip Start Feb 25, 2010
16Trip End Apr 23, 2010
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We departed Ella for Galle at 8:38. I know the precise time because we had agreed to leave at 8:30; the driver was even at our guest house at 7:30; and Gregory and I were ready at 8:00. But Christopher's need for his beauty rest was the cause of our 8 minute delay. Since he's an otherwise very nice guy, Gregory and I forgave him.
Looking at the map, I had assumed that we would drive southwest from Ella to get to Galle. But that's not the way the roads went. So instead, we headed straight south for the coast, which we hit at Hambantota. From there we went due west and hugged the coastline all the way to Galle. Along the way, we passed through many of the beach resort towns that I had read about. Some of them looked nice, but none looked nice enough to make me want to stay
We arrived in Galle just before 13:00, which was a full one to two hours less than we were told it would take. I suspect the drivers quote a longer journey time because it is easier for them to charge more if it seems like the trip will be longer. Then, when you get there early, you are happy that it didn't take as long as expected - even though you still have to pay for the longer ride.
The van dropped us off in the middle of the Galle Fort (the old part of the town). As soon as we got out of the van, we were met by a toothless tout who saw which guesthouse we were heading for. He went there first, arriving seconds before we did, and tried to claim a commission for having brought us there. He got angry that we told guest house that he didn't do anything to earn a commission as we were headed there anyway. I don't think it really mattered because he was a very rough looking character who appears to extort commissions from guest houses using this same tactic. Later we saw him waving money in front of us, claiming it was his commission
Later we had a nap in the cool air-conditioned rooms of our guest house. It was a real oasis from the sweltering heat of this coastal town. In the evening, after it had cooled down slightly, Gregory and I had a walk around town. (Christopher had left us earlier in the afternoon to visit the nearby beach town of Hikkaduwa, where he could ride the waves.) We eventually had a tolerable dinner at the Indian Hut - whose logo looked suspiciously similar to the Pizza Hut logo. After dinner we went back to hotel for beer and chat.
Breakfast at our guest house was pretty much useless: Four pieces of white bread toast - which I would have gladly exchanged for one slice of whole wheat bread - and one shamefully small fried egg. During my entire time in Galle, I always felt like I was one meal behind. Each meal brought me from being starving to just hungry. I never quite managed to get full here.
After breakfast Gregory and I went to check out a "museum" that I had spotted on my walk yesterday afternoon. The museum claimed to have "free entrance". Since nothing tends to be free in this part of the world, I was skeptical
As it was getting intolerably hot again by now, we retired to our cool rooms for a rest and lunch at the guest house. Once again the meal, while being adequately tasty (how's that for an endorsement? "Mmm - adequate!"), was not substantial enough to fill us up.
In the afternoon we went for another walk along the waterfront. There, a young boy tried to sell us something - we couldn't quite make out what it was. Gregory asked, "How much?" The boy answered, "Fifty rupees". Gregory then asked, "What is it?" Again, the boy answered "Fifty rupees." By then we realized that somebody had taught the kid the words "Fifty rupees", and that's all the English he could speak. In order to test this, I then said to him, "Sixty rupees." Sure enough, he once again answered with "Fifty rupees." When the boy thought we were about to leave without making a purchase, he reluctantly accepted my offer of sixty rupees instead of fifty
On our walk to the train station to check out train schedules, we spotted a nice, big new building in the distance. I mentioned that it looked like a government office building and Gregory suggested that it was probably the offices of the Ministry of Corruption. Ha. Now that would take the cake. Since all governments - and especially ones in this part of the world - are corrupt, why not just come right out and admit it by having a nice new office building to house the corrupt bastards. Good one, Gregory!
At the train station, we checked the schedule for departures to Colombo for tomorrow. There was a train at 10:55, but the ticket guy told us this one would most likely be full as it originated in Matara and would have been traveling for hours before reaching Galle, assuring that there would be no available seats by the time it got here. He told us that there would be a special train at 13:45 that would have seats because it would originate here in Galle.
In the evening Christopher rejoined us from his surfing adventure in Hikkaduwa, where, as he said, there was a very muscular, tanned local guy with dyed blond hair who had won the hearts (if not the minds) of a bevy of pale English girls on holiday. And why not? Most people seek on holiday that which they cannot find at home, be it the sun - or adventures with sun-browned people of the opposite (or, in some cases, the same) gender
Christopher enjoyed his day of surfing but was pleased to be back in our good company. We then went to dinner at the most highly recommended place in town, owned by a Ben Bernanke-lookalike. Ben had to serve us our meal as his staff were all still away for their new year's holiday. And while he forgot to bring us all of the beers we ordered, he remembered to charge for the ones he didn't bring - and even a few that we didn't order. Funny how it always seems to work that way.
Since our guest house was full (it only had three rooms, two of which were occupied by Gregory and me, respectively), we brought Christopher to another guest house around the corner - owned by a beautiful, tall, brown local lady and her husband. I'm sure Christopher went to bed with fantasies dancing around in his mind - and woke up with unfulfilled fantasies of the same nature.