Sleepless in Sri Lanka

   

We had a 24 hour stopover in Kuala Lumpur on our way to Sri Lanka and it was awesome. We got a late deal on a posh hotel for 20 quid and they upgraded us to a suite.   

 

Rodney’s ear was still dodgy (he couldn’t hear out of it) so he went off to see a local ear doctor, whilst I had fun shopping for clothes appropriate for Sri Lankan modesty. He returned in complete agony with a bag full of different types of pills, telling tales of an old man with ancient tools sucking his ear dry. I treated him to an ‘eat until you can eat no more’ sushi dinner to cheer him up, and to slyly test his wellbeing- if Rodney doesn’t eat you know it must be bad. Really bad. Turns out he was hungry…

  

We were excited about heading to Sri Lanka. We hadn’t done any research so knew very little about it, other than the fact(s) that it is near India and not at war- two of our favourite things!

Here we are on the airport travelator, being happy and excited (sort of)…

  

Our first week in Sri Lanka was bizarre, for want of a better word. We started out in a shithole guesthouse in Negombo, which had two very large albino fish fighting each other in a tiny, dirty, smelly tank. The owners seemed like nice people but the fishy situation gave us doubts / nightmares so we checked out the next day. From there we took a bus to Colombo where we tried to get train tickets to Ella (a Norweigan girl told us it was a stunning train journey) but it was sold out so we booked tickets to Kandy instead, which looked to be on the way to Ella.

We made the rookie mistake of being railroaded (puntastic) into buying first class tickets, which meant we were trapped in a dull, air conditioned carriage with other tourists for three hours. They actually had a guard at the door stopping people from lower class carriages coming through, lest they take advantage of our cool air. We switched carriages (much to the confusion of our guard) and were back in Asia again in an instant.

  Incidentally, if you’re ever on a Sri Lankan train and this fella on the left gets on, buy whatever tasty thing he’s selling…

  

In Kandy we stayed in a very peculiar ‘homestay’ which I will remember for the rest of my time on earth. The family were weird and wonderful and we got our first taste of traditional Sri Lankan breakfasts (string hoppers, coconut rice, fish curry, Dahl etc), however the antique four poster bed was only five feet long posing a challenge for Rodney, and we discovered here that many Sri Lankans go to bed early (at 9pm) and get up early and noisily (at 4am). We also discovered that Sri Lanka is full of dogs, pets and strays, that like to bark all night long outside your window. Seeing how knackered we were after a couple of sleepless nights, the father of the family decided to move us into another bedroom, which had a bigger bed and an ensuite bathroom (fancy!). Unfortunately he didn’t mention to the rest of the family that we’d changed rooms, so we got the fright of our lives that night when we were awoken by the sound of our creaky door handle turning in the darkness (actually we were only half asleep because a Czech couple had positioned themselves outside our window for an all night natter). Ever-ready Rodney pulled his head from semi-slumber and yelled out “Hello? … Hellooooow??!’ (his second enquiry more desperate than the first). Hearing the anguish in Rodney’s voice and fearing the worst I let out a strange feral moany scream and turned to get a look at the boogeyman now stood in our open doorway. What I saw, however, was a small, serene, solitary figure bathed in light and looking a lot like Gandhi.

‘Sorry’, said Gandhi in his gentle non-boogeyman voice, before carefully closing the door and leaving us to roll around laughing until dawn. Sleep when you’re dead I say. 

 
 

I gave them a five star review on tripadvisor because what they lacked in sleep they more than made up for with fear and laughter. Plus they had this dream of a sofa…
 

And my doppelgänger…

 

Whilst in Kandy we visited a temple that apparently keeps one of Buddhas teeth in a golden box. We queued to get a look at the box which was indeed very impressive, but the tooth remained hidden from our mortal eyes so I wasn’t able to inspect it to confirm its origin. Pity.

 

We also had a wander around Kandy’s lake…

  

And visited the botanical gardens…  

And climbed up to the viewpoint…

 
All very pleasant, but as you can probably tell by our dead eyes, we were too knackered to appreciate it.

From Kandy we took a train to Nuwara Eliya which turned out to be a fairly pointless journey as there was nothing there and it was a bit out of our way. We tried to make the best of it by getting pissed in the local boozer but things turned sour when we were joined by a wasted local guy who talked shite at us for two hours (lost time is never found again) and then slyly told the waiter that we’d agreed to pay his hefty bar bill, before performing a vanishing act. We managed to get out of it but not before the whole bar got involved in the dispute. I like to think he got a surprise the next day when he awoke with a killer headache and the karma police at his front door…

However I’m not so sure the karma police have their shit together at the moment, as after leaving the bar I was almost hit by a bus…  

And that night a dog sat outside our window and howled until dawn. Sleepin’s cheatin’!

The next day we got a tuk tuk, train and bus to Dalhousie so that we could climb Adam’s Peak to watch the sunrise. This would entail us getting up at 2.30am so we were naturally keen to get an early night, seeing as we’d not slept for four days. Unfortunately, we were distracted by the view from our balcony, and our disco bed, so we only managed about three hours of shut eye before the alarm started screaming at us…

   

I hid under the covers and told Rodney to climb the mountain without me, but then a pack of dogs started barking outside our window (not joking) and I knew there was no more sleep to be had.

That night I discovered that I have the fitness levels of a sedentary 80 year old. I’d like to tell you that it was my adventurous spirit and positive mental attitude that helped me climb the five thousand two hundred steep steps to the top of the mountain, but I’d be lying. In truth it was all Rodney. Seeing the look of disbelief/ disappointment on his face as I threw up all over step number two thousand and something or other, shamed me into wiping my chin, gritting my oversized teeth, and crawling to the top. We made it before sunrise but there were hundreds of people jostling for space on the summit and I’d already had my fill of ‘that f*cking mountain’ (sorry Adam I renamed it) so we turned around and jogged all the way down to our hotel for breakfast. Apparently my body prefers downhill. Rodney took this artsy shot of me at the bottom which I feel captures my joy at no longer being on TFM…

 (I am a puppy magnet)

Later we heard people talking about what a wonderful, spiritual experience it was and I felt a pang of regret that I’d hated every second of it.

Keen to put more distance between myself and the vomit on step two thousand and something or other we grabbed a tuk tuk after breakfast and headed off to get a train to Haputale. It was a pretty journey…  

We stayed in another homestay in Haputale which was about as basic as you can get and cheap as chips. Somehow, the family managed to talk us into paying the son to drive us up to Liptons seat at 5am so that we could watch the sun rise over the tea plantations. I think we may have been too tired to put up a fight. I am pleased to say that it was well worth losing sleep over…

  

SO TIRED…  

Once the sun had risen a kid turned up and made us tea and samosas. We then sat chatting with a group of Spanish backpackers for a couple of hours, whilst trying to fatten up this wee fella…

 
It was then an 8 kilometre stroll down to the bus stop to take us home…  

 

Back at the homestay we discovered that our basic accommodation came with the best wifi in Asia. So we did what any respectable traveller would do. We climbed back into bed and binge-watched the entire series of Making a Murderer. Then we ate like kings and climbed back into bed and slept like babies for eight blissful hours.

  

The next day we walked up to a local monastery run by Benedictine monks. It was an old building, built by a british guy.

 
It wasn’t overly exciting (for us) so we left and wandered into a nearby bird sanctuary. We walked for two hours and didn’t see a single bird, or person. Then it started pouring with rain and I started to get concerned that we were going to miss our afternoon train to Ella. Rodney insisted that if we kept walking we’d find a way back to the homestay and it’d be hunky dory. We kept walking. It kept raining. It was raining so hard that I couldn’t take pictures lest my phone got damaged, so here’s a pre-deluge snap…
  
I made the executive decision to turn back when it became impossible to see two metres in front of us and we realised there was a steep drop to our right. I’d worn a long skirt as I didn’t know we were going trekkin and it was now saturated and making it hard for me to walk / not fall into the abyss, so I stopped to lift my skirt with the intention of tying it up. It was at that point that I noticed large black motherfucking leaches all over my legs, draining me of my life source/sauce, EATING ME ALIVE!!! I screamed blue bloody murder and immediately ran after Rodney begging him for help (“get them off me, help me, they’re eating me” etc.). I was so freaked out that he said he half expected to turn to find me being mauled by cheetahs. Rodney was quick to the rescue and began pulling them off me one by one. He soon realised that this technique was flawed in that they would then attach themselves to his fingers, continuing their feast. So he pulled out my Boots advantage card (no idea why I have that with me) and began scraping them off. Of course this whole process would have been easier if I hadn’t been running around in circles the whole time. Once we were sure they were all off me (and him as it turned out) we started running. Fast. As fast as my wimpy legs would carry me. We’d stop every couple of minutes to check for new leaches and without fail there were always new ones. This went on for forty agonising minutes and by the time we made it to safety I was a blubbering wreck…

  
If I make it through the rest of my life without ever seeing another leech it shall be glorious.

Our new friend Faruk (with the awesome wifi) whizzed us down to the station so we’d make our train…

 

This was supposed to be the most beautiful part of the train journey between Colombo and Ella and we’d paid extra for an ‘observation carriage’ so that we could stand outside and watch the tea go by. But the train was delayed until after sunset so that didn’t happen.  Oh here it comes…

  
The next day I came down with another stomach bug and was bedridden for a few days and had a great time watching Rodney eat all my meals…

 
Then we went surfing on the coast for a couple of weeks which was mostly awesome but then Rodney got sick again too so we lay around some more…

  

Now you may think after reading the above that we didn’t enjoy Sri Lanka all that much. In fact, we loved it and can’t wait to go back! Here’s some happy pics to fill in the blanks coz this post is too long already (no surf pics yet as they’re all stuck on my waterproof camera!)…

They really know how to make beer…  

Completing our ‘Stand by me’ experience…

 

Puppies puppies everywhere…

  

Sat in a man’s back garden whilst he cooked us the most delicious rice and curry in Sri Lanka…

 

Gorgeous beaches, happy feet… 

Insanely cheap transport…  

The prettiest money I ever did see… 

Wonderful wonderful people…  

  

And… Vans!!!!! Well, one van… 

Sri Lanka, we salute you!  

Advertisements

One thought on “Sleepless in Sri Lanka

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s