Keeping bus-y in Sri Lanka!!

Trip Start Sep 09, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Monday, October 15, 2007

Hello again to everyone, and a special hello to everybody in Jacob's school who might be reading this - you'll be pleased to know there's more of Tom dancing in this entry!!

So here we are in Sri Lanka , although we nearly never made it. Our rickshaw to Chennai airport was scary enough - the driver told us that the hour/hour and a half journey to the airport we'd been warned about was wrong, and it was only half an hour. This turned out to be true... but only because he drove like an absolute lunatic the whole way there! Along the way we passed a front room where the guy inside was watching a TV whilst a horse stood behind him, also watching. I really wanted a photo but that would mean removing my hands which were holding onto the rails for dear life, which I wasn't prepared to do!!

The flight was so short we felt as if we hadn't even left India (after a couple of 13 and a half hour bus journeys, 80 minutes on a plane is a breeze!) and, despite the early landing time of 2am we were soon woken up by another lunatic taxi driver. This time it wasn't the speed at which he was driving that worried us, more the fact that he was falling asleep at the wheel. When Charlie first noticed him dozing and suggested we spoke to each other very loudly I wondered what the hell she was on about - I was tired and wanted a bit of kip! - but through loud talking, well-timed coughs and keeping the windows open we managed to keep him awake long enough for the hour's drive to Mount Lavinia, although it wasn't enough for one poor dog who he ran over on the way. Thankfully, the place we'd booked was super swish (far too posh for us scruffy urchins!) despite the fact we found it on and it cost a fiver a night. The luxury of cable TV, a fridge and a warm shower helped to calm the nerves after the airport journeys.

Keen to fill the fridge, we set out in search of some cheap booze with which we thought we'd watch the sunset. Finding a wine shop proved pretty difficult in a largely Muslim area however and we eventually had to buy from a rather seedy underground liquor store, complete with security guard and brown paper bags! Like the time we bought bacon in Dubai , we felt like dirty old men in Soho walking around with our 'paper bags of evil'!

The Lion lager and very dodgy vodka tasted sweet that night though as we watched the most amazing sunset we've seen to date.

Whilst the sun was sinking we also discovered (through a man with crazy hair, a Hawaiian shirt and bandy legs) that Sri Lanka were playing England the next day in a day/night cricket match. Having learnt the ins and outs of the game so well in India , Charlie was keen to put her new-found knowledge to the test so we set off for Colombo the next day. Having bought our tickets in the stands (for around 45p each!!) we sat in amongst all the Sri Lankans and enjoyed the singing, dancing and brass bands that went on all around us. Obviously aware that the lead singer of Side Parting was in their ranks, they invited me to join them in a dance and sing-song.
Unfortunately their knowledge of English music was limited to Bob Marley and Shaggy so I had to make do with singing 'No woman no cry' and a medley of Shaggy hits - if I remember right, it was during the chorus of 'Mr Boombastic' that Kevin Pietersen hit a six! We won the game but unfortunately, in all the excitement of a Hindi version of 'It wasn't me' (which had to be heard to be believed!) I lost my hat.

On our way out, we were congratulated as if we'd hit the winning runs ourselves as people shook our hands and waved us out of the ground. We've definitely got that 'celebrity feeling' back in Sri Lanka as grown men and small children point and shout at us and start waving as we travel on the buses or walk the streets.

Buses are the best way to get around here as trains are pretty rubbish, and you also get to experience the very unique Sri Lankan bus experience! Terrible repetitive music blaring out; 'religious buskers' singing and preaching for money; people getting on at every stop to sell you anything from fruit, hot nuts, lottery tickets and DVDs of themselves being run over by tractors; and a desperate fight for space which means that every available gap is filled either by people, luggage or both... even between your legs!!

We have also been introduced to the Sri Lankan version of 'shandy' whilst drinking with some fishermen in Matara - a shot of Lemon Gin and a splash of tonic topped up with Carlsberg Special Brew, apparently best served at 11.45am!!

With Charlie keen to see her first elephants of the trip, we took the bus up to Uda Walawe National Park and went on an elephant hunt safari, driving around the 35 km
square plains looking for the 'little nellies' (as Charlie kept shouting out, growing more impatient as the search went on!). The water buffalo, crocodiles, peacock, mongoose, giant iguana and wild buffalo were great but when we saw our first elephants Charlie nearly started crying! In total we saw 3 large herds as well as some giant males on their own.
It was fantastic seeing them up so close and yet still in the wild and Charlie is still smiling about it now (although she can't complain I took too many monkey photos after nearly filling the whole memory card with pictures!).

For the past two days we've been in Hikkaduwa which is a beautiful little beach town in the Southwest. Our room is 20 metres from the sea and it's so peaceful. Last night we saw the most amazing thunderstorm as we sat in the bar with a couple of Scottish guys we met. The lightning lit up the whole sea and the thunder bounced all around us. Today there's been more rain but we're hoping for a bit of sun before we head back to India in a couple of days' time.

Toodle-oo for now!
T, C & P xxx
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loulou1 on

Yeah you found the nellies, Love the pictures, I don't think that you could get the smile any bigger!!!! :o)
Boys think it is all so amazing!
Love the face cleaning, thank god for face wipes!!

You've put a smile on my face once again.

Take Care guys. Love you lots
Lou n Boys xxxxxxxxxxx :o)

annie1000 on

Another great read
hi again Tom ,Charlie and Percy ,thanks once again for a great read and so well written .
You are certainly experiencing some 'hairy ' rides in the taxis over there .You would pay quite a bit of money to have those type of thrills at home in Thorpe park .
Loved your pics and also video singalong ,-
Sri Lankans look very happy people .
Sri Lankan version of 'shandy',
Hmmmm,will have to give that a try .
Take care love from Ann xx

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