Im going to start this blog the day before we got to Colombo, just because it was so eventful! So we (Me and Shai) left the others in Rishikesh on sunday morning, making our way to the bus station to catch a coach to Delhi. Simple plan right?
Turns out the it was cancelled due because of too much traffic- leaving a public bus as the only alternative. As it was a Sunday, the bus station was understandably packed with local tourists, waiting to do the same journey as us. Being tourists, we didnt have a clue what was going on, and by the time we found out it was too late! Three hours later, after getting bout 3 shades darker from sun exposure, we seized the initiative, jumping onto a moving bus and staking out seats- and even though the bus wasnt to move for another half an hour- we had seats and felt chuffed. For shai, getting on public buses isnt really that common, so u can imagine wot her parents said when they found out- but luckily she told them after we'd been on it. The journey went on for what seemed like forever, cramped, congested and seemingly filled with a group of convicts who looked kinda fishy. Random stops dlayed the journey even further- as did never-ending traffic and frequent heavy downpours of pre-monsoonal rain.
Still, we somehow managed to get to Delhi in one piece about 8 hours later, just over 12 hours after we had elft the ashram in th morning! It was pissing it down at the bus station, where crowds werewaiting to get onto the bus just like we had done in Rishikesh. Managed to push our way off the bus and found a rickshaw driver, told him to take us to a hotel and off we went. In hindsight, he looked kinda drunk, and the way he drove confirmed our fears. As he drove thorugh a massive puddle which was quite deep, he swerved and actually fell out of the rickshaw into it! Meanwhile, we were still moving forward wondering what the hell had just happened! It honestly felt like one of those slow motion moments, as he ran after the rickshaw and managed to get back in, drenched and soaked whilst making sure his hair was back in place lol. Turns out the hotel we were looking for had in fact closed down, leaving us at the mercy of a new rickshaw driver who made us the first customers of his brand new rickshaw- oh the privilege!
Understandably, we got to the airport extra early the following day- just to be able to relax in one place felt like a luxury we had earnt! Shai i think was happy to be going home- and i was looking forward to 2 weeks of r&r after 4 weeks of non-stop travelling! Landed in colombo after a short flight and were quickly whisked away to Shais house via an airport taxi. Home Sweet Home!! Shai's parents were awake when we got there- at which point they asked about the debacle of the previous day, which was downplayed by shai in her unique relaxed manner! Was so nice being back in a normal bed with the unexplainable homely feeling that comes with it- plus it turns out that Shai's brothers got a bit of a bachelor pad with en-suite, sofas, tv, balcony and rooftop and shisha pipe! Felt like being at home, hot shower followed a long lie-in, home cooked breakfast with numerous options and a nice cup of tea to start the day. as well as Shai and her mum both trying to feed me more and more food- good times!
Before we had arrived in Colombo, Shai had repeatedly warned me about the lack of friends she had there due to her friends studying/working or living abroad, something which i had tekn on board and wasnt that concerned about. But this was no excuse deciding to go and watch 'Iron Man' at the cinema- even if it did have Robert Downey Jr in it (shais reasoning, not mine!). The film was so bad, one of those when you end up thinking what was the point of making it in the first place!
Eating was at the forefront of most activities in Sri Lanka, ranging from coffees with the multitude of aunts that Shai has accumalated who are friends with her mum, or lunch at the Cricket Club where every dish has a cricket related names- the joys of ordering food have never been greater. Luckily managed to find a pub to watch the Champions League final in- although every football watching guy in Colombo must have also been in this place too! The game was pretty good, surprisingly so, but at 3am in the morning, penalties were the last thing we wanted to see. Alright for shai though, she managed to squeeze in a nice nap- until she woke up when senal told her the managers were gonna step up and take penalties too!
Took a trip to Bolgoda, Shais holiday home later on in the week- a relaxing a quiet place away from the city life of Colombo- a really nice house where we were able to chill, swim at her mates house, order pizza, play poker and smoke shisha (shai can now expertly set the shisha up!)- an ideal place for a house party really! Seems like a Sri Lankan pre-requisite to have a holiday home, visited Negombo a week later with one of Shais 'aunts', another really nice house in the middle of a coconut plantation on a huge plot of land- big enough for a football pitch/cricket pitch/tennis court/driving range and even quadbike course (it was raining so the mind wandered lol!). unfortunately, bad weather prevented us from checking out the pool! Visited the beach that afternoon and stopped for 'high tea' at this really posh beachfront hotel. A full pot of tea accompanied by 3 tiers of cakes, biscuitsand sandwiches- could high tea possibly be Britains greatest invention?
Headed off to Galle a few daya later- thanks to Senal who seemingly drove us around everywhere! Was a really scenice drive up the coast to Galle, which is still in a process of reconstruction following the tsunami. The fort itself was like a self-suffiecent town within a town, possessing a strong colonial heritage relating back to the days of Dutch occupation. Then, we managed to catch a sight of what id been waiting most of the trip to see- the much publicised and hyped sri lankan beach beds! well, they certainly lived up to the expectations- 4 poster beds with padding right out on the beach front- the only thing lacking was a)people and b) weather!
As well as eating and touring, we also managed to watch quite a few movies. Indian films fine, but chick flicks not so great lol. But this was inevitable given shais taste in cinema- and judging by her recent purchases, one wonders how it could possible get any worse lol. I wasnt complaining though, the films were 'watchable' and just watching tv was an enjoyable pastime which id grown to manage without. And of course, as my personal driver lol, I could be nothing except eternally grateful to her! It was enjoyable fun driving around with Shai, who seemed to improve every day with each drive- i dont know how she stayed calm drivin on those roads (although it seemed like perfect order compared to India). Frequent trips to shopping centres like Odel became common, as so we hoped playing tennis would too. Having bought 10 tokens, we played a grand total of once lol- having not been helped by the weather which was either too hot to play or raining! Turned out to be a multi sporting trip- playing pool, going bowling, squeezing in a trip to the driving range whilst suffering the ordeal of playing in the boiling heat in jeans and watching shai and senal disastrously give dance machine a go in the arcades lol- sorry guys but you werent very good!
My time in Colombo had flown by and before i knew it, it was almost up. Despite not going out that much, it had still been loads of fun! Eating the chocolate cheesecake at Gallery Cafe and the Indian food at Mango Tree had lived up to the hype and meeting Shais family and fmaily friends had been a pleasure! But we still had a surprise for them, we were gonna cook dinner for them on my last night! oh, the nerves- and for 12 people at that! Turned out quite nicely in the end, following the panic 'smash and grab' in the supermarket and the 'chuck it in the pan tactics' employed in the kitchen! What resulted was paneer tikka, kidney beans curry and mushroom stirfry and raita, together with masala papad! not bad for a couple of firsttimers eh? Thanks again for everything Shai, and say thanks to your parents too!
Next up would be a trip to South India- flying into Bangalore and travelling down to Kerala via Mysore, then back up to Goa before making my way up to Mumbai. Phew, needed a deep breath to type all that!