Colombo to Galle and Unawatuna

Trip Start Apr 10, 2006
Trip End ??? ??, 2007

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The beer situation is getting ridiculous now, i can feel the withdrawal symptoms about to bubble to a head. i've been able to suppress them to a point thus far but i can't help but feel things are about to get ugly.

We managed to be in kerala at the time of local government elections, at which time there is a total liquor ban across the state. once or twice we managed to get around this problem by being discreetly served beer in tea cups (the idea being that if the police came to check on our particular establishment they would just think we were very fond of the local chai). Another occasional option was to buy a couple of a locals personal supply and drink them in your room, but these are invariably warm and a 35 degree beer is as good as no beer to me.

From Kerela we headed into Tamil Nadu, a state i always knew wasn't going to be forthcoming with its alcohol. So with temperature souring to 40 degrees in the shade there was no option but to grin and bear it until we reached Pondicherry. It wasn't a huge problem though, we took consolation from the good things we had heard about the old French colony of Pondicherry. We had been told that the food was fantastic (due to its French as well as Indian influences) and that the tax system was different there so the beer was cheep, and what's more it would be cold. So i held the sober madness at bay for the train journey to Ponicherry, for the whole seven hours dreaming of a cold beer on our arrival...

We get to Pondicherry and find out that not all the local elections happen at the same time, and that they are now being held here, meaning a total liquor ban for three days (the duration of our stay in the province!). Apparently they have to have an alcohol ban here at the time of the elections due to previous years of violence and riots in the streets. As the realisation that it would be impossible for me to get my hands on a cold beer for at least another three days sank in the idea of violence on the street began to sound quite appealing. On the plus the food in Pondicherry is a very welcome change from the masala for breakfast, lunch and dinner you have no choice but to eat in the rest of Tamil Nadu. However the fact remains that the temperature and the humidity were continuing to rise and there was no sign of a cold beer coming my way.

We made Pondicherry more or less our last stop in India before flying from Chenai to Colombo in Sri Lanka, where we made the assumption there would be no elections or other inhibit ants to the consumption of alcohol, and we could head straight for a beach and enjoy a well earned ice cold beer...

...not so. we only have to walk off of the plane to find out that we have timed our arrival to coincide perfectly with the start of a national holiday to celebrate buddas 2550th birthday. it's n annual celebration which a tour opporator at the airport tells us will last for three days (exactly the amount of time we were planning to spend on the beach!). Sure enough we arrive at Unawatuna on the south coast and find that all the guest houses and restaurants have cleared their premises of all stocks of beer incase the police come to check on them (it's something like a $2,000 fine if they are found with any beer). So no beer for at least another three days. For a country with the worlds highest incidence of alcoholism, this national holiday must be a test, then again it does also have the world highest suicide rate?

i was considering staying here for an extra day, to ride out this dry spell and reap the rewards on the first day of alcoholic freedom, but i have just been informed, in this land of ever changing information and rules that the alcohol ban in enforced for a whole week, which means another dry three days!! it's the only thing that keeps me moving. I feel like a donkey chasing the carrot on a stick along a dusty path. Except i am an increasingly desperate Englishman chasing a cold beer around the world, prepared to travel further and faster at any cost for one perfectly chilled larger!
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