Mike and Flavia's alternative to work
We've now been in Sri Lanka for 5 days, and Im exhausted! We arrived in Negombo at about 2am on Monday morning and had a beer to celebrate (well, it's a new brand, so we had to try it). Monday day we relaxed as we'd been on the go since Friday morning. Very nice to just chill on the beach. Tuesday we decided to go to Kandy, so we took the local bus. Lots of fun, with no chickens, and definitely not true that they only sell tickets for the number of seats available. Arrived in Kandy and negotiated brilliantly with the tuk tuk driver - we were only moderately ripped off. Our guest house is lovely and has a fantastic view over the lake and the Temple of the Tooth (the tooth of Buddha). It has a gold roof which looks great at sunset and im thinking of having one in Bermuda. I took Mike out for a celebratory curry. He decided on medium spicy and I, foolishly, didnt ask what mine would be. Fourteen handkerchiefs, 2 banana lassis, 3 bowls of curd later we were able to leave the restaurant, but i could still taste the chilli the next morning, and poor mike looked very shiny. Apparently my curry was 'local spicy' which, Marcus Beckford, is not quite the same as a Korma! Tuesday and Wednesday we decided to get a driver and go up North to see the sights of the Cultural Triangle. Not very backpacker-like to have your own chauffeur, I know, but the logistics of doing it by local bus were a bit much, and we dont really have time to spare. Fortunately at Polonnaruwa (an ancient abandoned city) we decided to get a guide, and i think we had a better time because of it. It makes it a much more interesting experience if you know a bit of the background. Sigirya has definitely been the highlight so far. For those of you who dont know, it's a great big rock sticking straight up out of the plain which used to have a palace on top of it. It has steps built right onto the vertical walls of the rock face and it's not a good idea for anyone with vertigo to climb up.... or those that have vertigo that didnt know it Mike! We got to the top by 7.30am and had the whole place to ourselves for an hour which was great. Superb location, but a bit of a bummer of you need to pop out for a pint of milk. Update: After Sigirya we went back to Kandy for a couple of days and hooked up with a great guy called Peiter who was travelling alone and had a driver! and we had a friend! We travelled together for the remainder of our time in Sri Lanka. Some memorable times - particularly the odd little hotel in Dalhousie before the climb to Adam's Peak listening to Bony M! The owner thought we loved it, so after listening to the same album 3 times the night before we then got it twice at breakfast. Oh my. The climb to Adam's Peak is a pilgrimmage that thousands of Sri Lankans make every year - on top of the mountain is a temple and the sunrise is supposed to be great. The climb theoretically takes 3 hours, but because we were going on a Saturday night in the middle of pilgrimmage season our hotel guy recommended that we start at 1am to be sure that we got there by sunrise at 6.30am......slightly ominous start. 4.5 hours later and with a very sore bottom (yes, even though it's a pilgrimmage it doesnt stop the letching, particularly if you're blonde - i ended up making Mike walk right behind me to guard against roving hands) we realised that we werent likely to make it to the top. There were literally thousands of people on the path and we'd moved 10metres in one hour. So we gave up and came down, which was GUTTING. Next went to Nurewa Eliya from which we went to Worlds End which is a 2km drop off onto a plane. You're supposed to get there by 10 am before the cloud closes in and obscures the view, so with that advice firmly in mind it was decided to visit the waterfalls first and we arrived at 10.05 to see.... not a lot really! Does anyone see a theme emerging? We were both beginning to feel like failures by this point, so no comments from the peanut gallery please. Then on to Ella which was lovely and nothing went wrong. We went for a walk and didnt get lost. The view was great. We met some lovely people who we've since seen all over the place, even in Bangkok (allies on the Patpong mission!) All in all, a blessed relief after the previous few days. Although I did have a deep fried succulent caterpillar in my fried rice, but I regard that as extra vitamins. From Ella we went South and drove the length of the coast to Galle which was a real eye opener. The whole area is devastated and appears to be a combination of rubble and tents. There was, however, a massive and obvious aid operation going on everywhere we managed to get to which was reassuring. We heard some incredible tsunami survival stories from countless people we met on the way... and then there was the night watchman at our hotel in Unawatuna who lost 7 members of his immediate family. It's absoultely heartbreaking. Got to Galle and stayed for a couple of days in the Fort (which i checked had survived the first tsunami). There were new tsunami warnings for the 3 days we were on the South coast - and the 8.7 earthquake happened 24 hours after we left to fly back to Bangkok.