We realised that our luck was running a little bit thin, especially when the heavens opened up and a giant watering can sprouted from the sky.
One hour across the water from South India and we are now in Sri Lanka. We cruised the coast for a week, watching the locals with long blonde (dyed) hair and ebony skin riding the waves. These guys are the real deal; they look like they just got cast for a Sri Lankan spin off of ‘Lords of Dogtown’! We spent a few days along the south coast, living in caves for as little as 50p a night, trying to save a little bit of cash whilst we could. Some of the rooms were OK, others were horrendous. We had this lovely room, which came with a free crab-spider mutant thing (and its children), a toilet that wouldn’t flush, a wet room that didn’t drain, and windows with no glass which enabled Sri Lanka’s whole army of mosquitoes to get us at night. It was then that we realised that our luck was running a little bit thin, especially when the heavens opened up and a giant watering can sprouted from the sky.
The weather took a turn for the worst, showing no sign of stopping. Soon we were sick of the torrential rain, not to mention soaking wet and all our belongings and clothes permanently drenched. Turns out it is only fun to get wet if you have somewhere warm to go home to, and our damp cave did not suffice.
The downfall drove us from the beach and into ‘Hill Country’, where we quickly bought 80’s style rain jackets and brollys to shelter us from the rubbish weather. When we stepped off the train, covered in waterproofs head to toe, we were all silent for a good few minutes, which is very unlike us. The scenery was absolutely breath taking. We had arrived in Ella, a small village surrounded by lush green mountains and tea plantations. The easiest way to travel Sri Lanka is by train, and the ride we took from Ella to Nuriya Oya showed us some of the most beautiful sights I think I will ever see. The track winded around mountains and dipped into the outskirts of the jungle, everyone sticking their heads out of the windows to get a better look and all the locals waving and shouting ‘HELLLOOOOOO”s at you. Aboard the train they sell the most unusual snacks, which, given a few tastes, you just cannot get enough of. One thing is a waddie waddie. This is a cornbread snack, which is a magical blend of dried prawns, cheese and vegetables….when we first looked at them I recall Jo saying ‘Jess, if you eat one of those I think you might die’. That’s how these things looked. But one day we were just too hungry and gave into the local delicacy, thank God we did. It was all we ate for the remaining two weeks we had in Lanka.
Being surrounded by huge mountains makes you feel as though you are a new empowered, super fit, Tarzan-style you, that it would be rude not to climb the stunning mountains and explore the crazy jungle. So, we got kitted up in our cross country trainers (yes they finally came in handy) and our rucksacks (thank goodness we brought two each) and hiked to our hearts content. Ella Rock was the first on our list, a two hour hike up and two hours down…. when we got to the top the cloud descended and we couldn’t see any of the promised comely views. Instead we were wrapped in a blanket of cold fog, unable to even see our hand in front of our faces. Still, on the walk down we got a glimpse at the mountains from high and sweet Jesus they were stunning. Well worth the blood (oh leeches, how we adored you) and sweat we emitted on the walk. We actually met two lovely couples and their parents who were doing this trek, and crashed their family outing by joining them up the mountain. Funnily enough, Claire (the gorgeous, very friendly and lovely wife who looked about 20 despite having two kids) knew the Jersey couple who own Reefers Diving school in Koh Phangang…. so it’s a small world after all. She advised us of a bar on top of a skyscraper to go when we reached Bangkok… we went there last night; all I can say is ‘Good shout Claire’!
Our next conquest in Lanka was when we travelled to Dickoya and camped at the bottom of the famous Adam’s Peak. Now this walk was a little harder, 3000 vertical stairs up and down, bear in mind this mountain was 2243m above the summit. So, we awoke, groggy and sleep deprived at 2am and proceeded to walk the pilgrimage. Ella Rock seemed like a dream compared to this bad boy, I walked for three hours before looking up and realising that I was either going to die or turn around. The stairs just continued up to the heavens, never stopping. Jo and Niema managed to finish it, and said that the views from the top were incredible, but I turned around and returned to my bedroom spending the rest of the day with my tail between my legs. Still, I guess it means I have something to return here for- always leave with something to bring you back.
So after plucking the leeches from our feet, and massaging our aching legs, we moved onto the main city in Lanka, Kandy. Our friend who we met on the orphanage project in India lives there so we went to his house and had the most amazing lunch, consisting of fried fish, pineapple salad and pumpkin and orange curry….yummy! It is funny the things you begin to eat when you’re away from home, that’s for sure. In Kandy we took our first Elephant ride, all three of us on the back of one. It was the most hilarious thing I think I’ve ever done. The whole time I was horrifically scared that the huge animal was going to decide he was too tiered, sit down and roll onto the top of us. Squashed by an Elephant, not a good way to go. Still, we survived and ended up really enjoying being near the gigantic beasts, washing and feeding them to thank them for our piggy back. Many of the elephants here are kept in pretty dodgy conditions, all chained up and spears are used to keep them in line so we were really careful which Elephant park we chose. The ‘Royal state Circus’ really didn’t treat their Ellie’s well, and we felt like if we stayed we would be supporting their treatment. Needless to say, Nelly the elephant flapped her trunk and we said goodbye to the circus.
As the two places are so close, we found many similarities between the Indian and Sri Lankan culture, apart from the Lankan’s were much more liberal than Indians. Some women wore Sari’s, but the majority wore western t-shirts and long skirts. In the rain you see tons of couples on pushbikes, the man peddling and the woman balancing precariously on the t-bar whilst sheltering them both from the downfall with a brolly. That really was a funny sight to see. The head wiggle is not such a big thing over here; instead it’s the head shake. They will be saying ‘yes yes yes’ shaking their head frantically, it takes a while to get used to!
So, we left Lanka two days ago and are now in Bangkok….ace. Another culture, another accent, another dish. Pick up next month’s to read about Thailand!!