Leeches Suck

Trip Start Oct 01, 2006
Trip End Dec 01, 2006

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Monday, October 16, 2006

Well, a slightly eventful few days that has involved a party at the Australian High Commision in Colombo, a trek through the rainforest, swimming in waterfalls and going on an elephant safari. But where to start?

The party was pretty awesome. It was pretty much the same crowd that came out for my birthday so it was always going to be good fun. There was an aussie bbq and the whole building had such an authentic feel to it that you could have forgotten you were in Sri Lanka. There was the obligatory cheesy music and therefore also the equally obligatory cheesy dancing but it was all good. And because it was a foreign event they even had gin and tonic. What a treat! The aussies definitely know how to put on a good evening - apparently the British ones aren't worth the bus fare (which incidentally is about 9p).

So that was Thursday night. Mid-morning on Friday a group of 8 of us set off for a weekend in the rainforest. There were a few delicate stomachs from the previous evening and the bus was incredibly bumpy but after about 3 hours we stopped for lunch and then a little way on from that stopped at the Bopath waterfall. We had an amazing mini-trek over across the river and then over the rocks to the base of the fall where (now hot and tired and sweaty) we got in for a swim. Sri Lankans aren't fans of bikinis and the like and because it's a local spot where people go daily to do washing etc we swam fully clothed but that was fine.

Then back on the bus and on to Udawalawe ready for the safari the next day. It was a very odd (and slightly creepy) hotel that we stayed in. Sat down at 7.00pm to order food and it took 2 hours before we even got to smell it! And then it was inedible. Nice. Slept 4 to a double bed for the majority of the night and then up and ready at 6.00am for the elephant safari where we saw loads of elephants (surprise, surprise) and also monkeys, eagles, deer, waterbuffalo, storks, and other creatures I can't remember right now!

Quick visit along to the baby elephant sanctuary to see them being fed which was cute. Then back on the bus for a another long journey up to the rainforest area at Deniyaya where we stayed in a hotel with a beautiful view and good food. Seemed like a palace compared to the previous night! We went off to visit a local Buddhist temple just before sunset which was really interesting, and then headed back to the hotel for a huge thunderstorm with powercuts and big beetles.

Sunday morning we were due to leave at 7.00am for the rainforest trek but one of the girls in the other room locked the only key to the door in the room so we were delayed slightly. Then had a bit of an argument about prices for the guide and the rainforest. Its difficult because we're all over here as volunteers but there is an established pricing system which charges locals 30 times the price for foreigners! So instead of 28 rupees we had to pay 660. Still only works out at about 3.50 pounds though so we weren't too bothered. And this is where the leeches came in. With the storm the night before they were out in force. And they are vile. Now I'm not a fan of spiders but I can deal with them. Bugs that fly near to me don't frighten me but they may end up squashed. Turns out I have a fear of leeches! With every step I'd get at least one on my shoe that then tried to burrow down through any gaps or laces or crawl up the my socks. We soaped and salted our shoes and tucked out trousers into socks and all of that but still they managed to get into peoples shoes or trousers. Really gross. Managed to multi-task and freak out about leeches whilst I walked but it was horrible.

After about 2 hours we reached a waterfall where again we hopped over a few rocks and then swam at the base. Perfect time to check for leeches and amazingly none had managed to attach to me. Charlotte and Natalie both had them on their ankles and Jenny had one on her shoulder. Think I would have well and truly freaked out if that had been me! Think I have found a new phobia.

By the time we walked back to the mini-bus the ground had dried out and there weren't so many leeches so we were able to spend a bit more time looking at our surroundings. Saw many millipedes and othe creepy crawlies along with a creature that looked like a mix between a cat and a monkey. And a fantastic moment where our guide pointed to a chameleon and said 'chlamidia'. Priceless.

Long, long, long bus ride back to Ja Ela reaching the house at 10.45pm. And then teaching this morning. Am going to run out of time so will sign off for the moment and update soon. Thank you for e-mails and the like... I love hearing about what is happening at home so keep them coming!
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