Thirty-six hours before our flight from Bangkok to Sri Lanka we both went down with this trip's first attack of belly problems. Thankfully the worst of the action had stopped by the time we had to leave for the airport.
Christmas in Sri Lanka was a wash out! We were in Negombo, a somewhat scruffy but characterful beach town north of the capital Colombo. But the rain didn't deter the kids and their firecrackers at midnight; apparently there are lots of accidents each year.
We submitted our Indian visa application to the High Commission in Colombo just before Christmas but then had to wait 6 working days for the processing to be completed. We decided to spend the intervening days visiting Jaffna but had to change our minds when we realised that the centre and north of the country were suffering from floods and landslides. Instead we went south and headed along the coast for 10 days visiting Galle and its historic fort as well as several beautiful beaches.
One of the highlights was seeing a 1.5m green turtle laying her eggs under cover of darkness on the beach she herself was born on. She then spent an hour filling in the hole and at about midnight she made her way back down the beach and into the sea.
We also enjoyed doing a couple of safaris at national parks in the SE of the country where we most enjoyed seeing the birds. There was also an exciting moment when an elephant smelt the fruit that was in our vehicle and made a bee line for us and our escape was hampered by a melee of other safari vehicles.
The transport in Sri Lanka is incredibly cheap but very crowded. We have spent many hours standing on both trains and buses. The buses are faster but a consequence is that you are constantly trying to compensate for the crazy braking and to not panic at the manic overtaking. But the road and track-side scenes are interesting and we met lots of kindly locals wanting to know where we're from.
We finally got the Indian visa yesterday and have just arrived in Cochi, Kerala. In leaving today we are by chance missing two major events in Sri Lanka over the next week - the presidential election and a visit by the Pope. Hopefully any violence from the former will have subsided by the time we return to Sri Lanka in February. At that point we will be getting back on the bikes...but first we have a month in India, our penultimate country.