Tissamaharama (Tissa) and the Yala National Park

Trip Start Sep 21, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Day 103 Sun 19th Feb 2006
Tissamaharama (Tissa) and the Yala National Park
The rain poured down last night after I went to bed, it must have rained for two hours continually. I got up at eight today to make an early start for the trip to Tissa. I had breakfast and then nipped into town to buy some presents for Alkeel and Alisa, nothing much really just a little thank you. I packed up all my stuff thinking the 5 Kilos I sent yesterday would make my backpack a bit lighter, no such luck. I don't get it, I haven't brought anything else but it still feels really heavy. Maybe I'm not as fit and strong as I used to be. I settled my bill with Uma and left around 10am (ok not that early a start).

At the bus stand I found out I had missed the direct bus to Tissa and would have to get a bus to Matara first then change for Tissa. The bus for Matara left at 10.30am, it was absolutely packed. I was told to take the express bus because it was supposed to be quicker, but the driver kept stopping for everybody who waved their hand out. I didn't get a seat all the way there, so it wasn't the most comfortable of journeys (getting used to that now!) but it took in some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. The road goes along the coast most of the way. You have the lush greenness of the land, the beautiful white sand beaches and then the amazing turquoise sea. What an amazing blend of colours. We pulled in to the stand at Matara around midday and I was really hungry by then (I'm finding eating rice all the time makes you feel hungry sooner), and I was dying to go pee pee. Anyway, I had lunch at this local place, and yes I had a Veg curry with rice! It was quite nice actually and as all the locals were eating with their hands I thought I would do the same (I learnt how to do it in Kerela), check me out!
I got on another packed bus to Tissa that left at 12.30, this time we headed away from the sea and into the lush green land. Again I had to stand up, this time for 2 hours! I eventually got fed up and just sat on the floor near the front door, where I had been standing. People just got on and off as normal, I don't think anybody knows what 'we have no room' means here (see pic). After I had been sitting there for about 20 minutes the driver noticed me and told the ticket guy to get me a seat. He got someone who was getting off at the next stop to get up so I could sit down (aah, isn't that nice).

We got to Tissa around 3.30pm and I went to a guesthouse by the lake. The guy who took me there also did safaris to the Yala National Park, no sooner had I put my bags down then he was off-on-one about the safari. He said because I was on my own it would cost Rs 13,800, the first thing I said was s**t that's a bit much! When I told him I couldn't afford it and didn't want to go he said he could do it for Rs7,500 (bit of a come down don't you think?). At this point I was thinking to myself I must be destined to travel alone, it's been really nice staying with Uma and her family but I was kind of looking forward to meeting more travellers. Anyway, the safari was what I came here for so I went with him. The Park was about 40 minutes away and we drove up there in Nilanga's (he was the safari guide) battered old Land Rover jeep. I had a god time there and saw plenty of deer, peacocks and elephants. At one point Nilanga let me get out of the jeep (and this is not normally allowed) to take a close picture of an elephant. He told me to be very careful because they can charge at you real quick. When he told me this thought 'yeah right, its an elephant, how fast can it run'. As I got close to the elephant for my pictures it stopped eating and looked over at me, I heard Nilanga shout 'come back!' and I turned round to look at him, when I turned back towards the elephant it was charging towards me! I RAN LIKE THERE WAS NO TOMORROW! I managed to get a video clip of it as it came close to the jeep but you really had to be there. I was a bit disappointed not to have seen any crocodiles and I couldn't really get any good pictures of the deer or peacocks, but we had loads of fun anyway!

We got back to the guesthouse and auntie (as Nilanga, and now me like to call her) had made dinner. I met a German guy called George, he had been on the safari yesterday and paid Rs13,800, that made me feel ok about paying what I did, he is a 47 year old, unmarried land surveyor so I guess he can afford it (of course I didn't tell him how much I paid). We have arranged to go to a place in the morning called Kataragama. It's a place of worship where Hindus, Muslins and Buddhists all come together to pray. I have to leave for Ella by 8.30am, so we have to get up at 5.30am to enable us to go to Kataragama and come back on time. It was nice talking to George, he is going in the opposite direction to me so I asked about places to see and where to stay. Just like Ursula he was a great source of information. (but when it comes to the crunch I can never remember what anyone tells me anyway).
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