Sri Lanka Part 2

Day 122
4th August

What a night the live music played until gone 11.00 and then it took the local residents a further hour to clear off. I resorted to ear plugs and an eye mask whilst Gary suffered the noise, apparently the police were called to break the party up but by this point I was in noddy land. The music didn’t start until 9.00pm and even then it sounded like they were rehearsing rather than playing so I took to my bed (as much to avoid the mosquitos as anything else) and Gary stayed and watched them, he even went and had a dance with some of the local men (men dance women watch).

We woke early and went for a walk to Ella’s rock, we had thought the route would be easy to follow but along with a number of other british people we got lost (no signage) and sought the help of a local guide. The other Brits were all younger than us and although in separate groups were all medical students.

The views at the top were spectacular and it was really peaceful, worth a visit if you’re ever in Ella. We were also quite pleased with our cardiovascular abilities the students we were walking with found the walk quite strenuous and had to stop several times for breath whilst we seemed to manage the walk without any problems.

As we hadn’t slept very well and it was midday by the time we got back to Ella we decided to stay in Ella a further day. This did mean changing accommodation but that wasn’t such a hardship.

In the afternoon we took a walk to little Adam’s peak and enjoyed more spectacular views of the tea and tobacco plantations. I think the locals betel leaves and possibly tobacco, many of them have a reddy brown substance in their mouths which not only discolours their teeth but they also spit it out whilst they’re walking along yuk especially gross when they have to bring it up like a phlegm like cough, really gross.

We had dinner out in a lovely restaurant that sold tapas and pasta dishes we had five tapas dishes between us for the gran old price of £3 and to help wash it down a couple of Lion beers £3.50 (for two 650ml bottles! alcohol in Sri Lanka is expensive in relation to the price of food, I would love a glass of chilled white wine but can’t bring myself to pay the £3.00 cost per glass.

Lovely chilled evening at the villa even managed to upload the blog, the internet connection in Sri Lanka is a bit hit and miss.

Not so great we heard from our estate agent that our property needs a new hob and the boiler needs a new part, we also found out we had to pay custom duty for a parcel we had sent over from England. These emails on top of a £350 excess bill for my car which has been hit. This has set the budget back by about £1,000

We have already adjusted our daily budget to £30 a day but we will need to keep this under review.

Day 123
5th August
38 miles – Climbed 5,820 feet! Descended 3,023 feet (mostly in the 1st 10 miles).
Ella to Nuwara Eliya (Elevation 5,937 feet)

We both had a great nights sleep, the best for a long time, the villa was quiet and it was neither too hot or cold.

Breakfast was the standard omelette, toast and fresh fruit served in the main house.
Gary; great breakfast with loads of toast, I mean loads – it beat me)

It was cold (21c) and drizzly when we set off, a bit of a shock to the system after the temperatures we had been cycling in.

We started off with a long down hill pedal, I’ve come to realise that this is never a good thing because what ever goes down must come up. At the bottom of one of the hills we saw two tuc tuc’s crash into each other nothing major but the first we’ve seen.

After about 10 miles of descending we started to ascend and climbed and climbed all day. Our legs were tired from the walk the day before and by the end of the day we were very weary.

The scenery was really interesting there were lots of cultivated fields some with step like ridges in them. We saw a number of small rivers and lots of statutes we couldn’t resist stopping at one, even though it was on a steep climb so that Gary could have his picture taken with an Ganesha (elephant man) with his tongue hanging out (Gary; looked like my mate Cliff).

Gary; We knew today was likely to be lumpy so we had two plans. Plan A, 25 miles to Welimada, plan B, another 15 miles to Nuwara Eliya.
We had reached Welimada by lunch time, having had to cycle mostly uphill for the last 15 miles, but decided to carry on.
On the map I could see that Nuwara Eliya was by a large lake so I presumed this would mean it was down in a valley. It turns out this town and lake was on the top of a mountain at 5,937 feet so this afternoon has been up up and then a bit more up I kept thinking the downhill bit must be around the next corner how wrong can a man be, 15 miles of uphil later the answer is very wrong.

Once settled in the hotel at £15 a night, we walked to find food. 1st cafe rejected for cleanliness. 2nd rejected as it was too expensive, third took too long to even try to serve us, 4th time lucky, still a bit of a poo hole but we had walked 3k to find it so hunger had set in. the curry and rice was served cold, we have had this several times before and wasn’t ideal as we wanted food to warm us up, at least it was cheap at £2.80.

We jumped on our 1st bus of the trip to get back, what a rip off, they charged us 12p each.

Day 124
August 6th
Nuwara Eliya
25 miles

Woke early and started to read my book but puppy dog (Gary) was restless so off we set at 8.00am, I would have preferred to stay in bed for a bit longer to finish my book I was in no hurry as it was still cold and windy outside.

Not long after setting off Gary stopped to take pictures of a sea plane taking off from a lake.

We stopped for breakfast in a little side cafe and had warm rottis with dahl and some other spicy dish.

We had hoped after yesterdays climb that we would be treated to a long down hill stretch, but before we could be rewarded with this we had a further 5 miles climbing to do. The downhill stretch had lots of switch backs and for some silly reason my body and bike decided they couldn’t do tight left hand switch backs and I kept stopping, not only dangerous but really frustrating. The two times I have fallen off my bike (badly) have been on hair pin bends and the memory of the falls were fresh in my mind. After the third time we stopped and decided it was probably best to find somewhere to call it a day, we both had weary legs and although the ride was really scenic, beautiful countryside with some amazing waterfalls, I wasn’t feeling great on the bike. The nearest hotel in our price range was 10 miles away, which was fine as the descent was not as steep and the switch backs not as tight.

During the ride down from Nuwara Eliya we stopped at Matchwoods tea factory so that we could see how tea was made. The tour was short and sweet but did give us a little more insight into how tea is made, which was really interesting as we had been cycling passed tea plantations for the passed two days. After the tour we a treated ourselves to a cup of tea and a slice of chocolate cake. The tea and the museum tour were free, definitely a wasted business opportunity. There was a shop next door but I’m sure they would have sold more products if customers had been allowed to try the different tea in the cafe. I took advantage of going to the ladies whilst we were in the cafe and as I waited in line I was amused at how tall I was compared to everyone else in the line, no wonder we attract so much attention.

We stopped for lunch in one of the roadside cafes, we were presented with the usual offering of a number of spicy snacks with dips on a platter. The selection wasn’t great but as in other cafes we have stopped in you only pay for what you eat, so lunch today came to the grand sum of £1.40 including 3 bottles of fizzy drink and a cup of tea.

Once we arrived at the accommodation (which was very basic) I went back to bed for forty winks and to finish my book and Gary cleaned the bikes as they’ve both been playing up.

Gary; I had a close encounter with a 3 foot long black snake, it was on the top step of the three stairs outside our room, I didn’t notice it till I was about to stand on it, I didn’t half make me jump. I considered not telling Ginette but as I was now stamping my feet when approaching our steps I thought she should do the same.

Some beautiful views today, loads of long drop waterfalls and the road was fantastic for a cycle, following the mountain side like the contour line on a map.

On the way into town in the evening for dinner (a rice dish with curry dips for £1.75 including drinks) Ginette was causing a stir amongst the smaller indian women, a couple of times the ladies would stop and openly stare giving her the up and down eyes, white haired devil woman strikes again.

She also caused a stir when we entered and sat in what looked to be a bar, it was a liquor store but you could sit in and drink, she was the only female in the place.
Later we found an off-licence (the 3rd one we had tried for wine) and bought a bottle of red wine, this cost £6.50, very expensive but a treat we’re allowing ourselves once a week.

Day 125
August 7th
23 miles
Pussellawa to Kandy

What a night, we had to get up twice in the night to do battle with the buzzing, biting mosquitoes, I think we can call it a draw because I still had one buzzing round my head all night but we seem to be fairly bite free. We’re not sure what the staff will make of the walls and mirrors which are now covered with blood splattered mosquitoes and moths. In addition to the mosquitoes we had ants, moths and a gecko for company. Needless to say we didn’t sleep very well.

Breakfast was a pleasant surprise however we did feel obliged to pose for a photo (this seems to be a regular request, but why anyone would want a picture of our ugly mugs is beyond me, especially first thing in the morning)

The ride was really pleasant and easy compared to the previous few days, the only difficult part was negotiating our way around Kandy to our hotel.

Gary cleaned and serviced the bikes the day before and what a difference it made to the gears and brakes it was like having a new shiny bike : )

We stopped for a drink at the half way mark and I couldn’t believe my ears when we were presented the bill, Gary questioned the amount and insisted he pay more… We had only been charged 50p for a large coke and a ginger beer, I think after some persuasion the man did take 60p.

Gary; road kill is bit more exotic around here, one Monkey that wasn’t s quick as it should be.
Today was easy riding, most of the morning down through forested hills and along a river course, we turned a corner and the terrain was suddenly groomed lawns, beautiful colonial buildings, we had entered the grounds of Peradeniya university. After this oasis we had to cycle through noise, cars and rough areas as we approached and past into Kandy.

Our hotel was on top of a very big hill, so big that even Gary had to get off his bike and push, when we arrived our rooms were not ready so we waited in the open air cafe and wrote our blogs.

In the afternoon we made the mistake of visiting the city whilst tired, never a good combination. We went to the Temple of the Tooth, we didn’t like it as it was too commercial, we were asked to pay to rent some sarongs, charged an entry fee, given a guide which we did not request but expected payment when we went to collect our shoes we were asked for a further donation this on top of every time we stopped in front of a statute or artefact there was a further request for donations. personally I would rather they just charged a higher entry fee up front rather than every 5 minutes expecting you to pay for something else. The temple was busy and full of tourists not our cup of tea, we have been very fortunate in our travels and not only have we not had to pay to enter them but they’ve generally been very quiet and tranquil and we’re happy to make a donation at the end of our visit.

We left the temple and as we were both tetchy and decided to go and chill somewhere but this was not so easy as the city was thriving with people. We did try a bar, there are very few of them in Kandy and they only seem to open at 5.00pm so we settled on a fruit juice and an ice cream and headed back to the hotel for some rest and relaxation.

Whilst cycling today I thought of a number of things we haven’t mentioned in the blog to date, most newsworthy are the following – Sri Lanka is preparing for an election and wherever we go there are banners, flags and tannoy messages are played up in support of one or other of the political parties. It is more subtle than when we were in Turkey but you are aware that the country is building up to an election it is due to take place on the 17th August. At one of the hotels we stayed in the internet connection was exceptionally poor and the manager explained this was due to the fact that the candidate from their area did not need to improve services in the local area because he was already guaranteed their vote? not sure how this works, but this seemed to be his take on the lack of services in his area.

Another interesting thing about Sri Lanka is the number of police stops made on vehicles. It seems like a regular occurrence and both the police and the driver that has been pulled seem really relaxed about the checks. In most towns we have passed they’ve been a couple of policemen waiting to pull over vehicles, when we pass they simply smile and wave us on.

As we cycle through villages we often pass by bread vans playing their tune to attract customers in a very similar way that our ice cream vans go from town to town selling ice-cream. On the issue of ice cream, I don’t know what they do to it in Indian/Sri Lanka but it is horrible, it is really creamy and icy, Gary seems to enjoy it but it is definitely not for me.

Finally for this section the electrics in Sri Lanka are different to India and Europe and on arrival we didn’t think our adaptor plug would work until given the following advice anyone with a nervous disposition stop reading now… Gary has to place a pencil in the top socket hole and then insert the bottom two prongs of the plug, it looks very dangerous to me but seems to work, however I was a little concerned the other night when he did this he looked up cheekily and said did you hear that, I hadn’t heard anything and he said not to worry just a little popping noise. To make matters worse for some stupid reason all plug sockets are either half way up the wall or only in the bathroom.

Day 126
8th August
a day in Kandy

There’s not a lot to do in Kandy and we kind of regretted booking two nights but we tried to make the most of the area. We went to a commonwealth cemetery which was supposed to have a very entertaining guide however we got his grandson who was very dry and polished, not so entertaining but still interesting.

On our way back in to town we stumbled across some elephants being washed, we sat down on a wall and spent a good hour chilling and watching them, they seemed to be enjoying it and we definitely enjoying watching them. Tourists were invited to use coconut shells to exfoliate them and to have their pictures taken at a cost. Others paid to walk under the elephants, this apparently brings good luck, in which case the guide who escorts the tourists under the elephants belly and then his trunk must be a very lucky man in deed, because he was still doing this when we returned from town about 3 hours later.

We both agreed we were bored with our wardrobes and decided we would try and pick up some bargains at a local market but we failed. Neither of are great at shopping and we could not tolerate the very helpful, if not pushy market stall holders who were keen to help us but something from their stalls.

We had lunch in a really good vegetarian restaurant/take away a big like a posh McDonalds, the food was really good and very reasonably priced. Gary ordered the rice and curry and I ordered a Chapati and dips dish (see photo). We were not offered any cutlery so we went native and ate with our fingers, a very messy if not funny affair, we kept looking round to make sure we were doing it right. We’re pleased we’ve tried it but from now on when we’re presented with rice and curry we will do the British thing and ask for a fork.

We decided to spend the rest of the afternoon plotting our journey for the following week and researching Vietnam, which we did by the pool.

Day 127
9th August
Kandy to Naula
38 miles

We woke early as we had thought we were going to have a hard days cycle ride ahead of us. The previous day I had put our washing in the hotel laundry facility we were promised the laundry would be returned to us in the afternoon but unfortunately it was delayed and when we did get it back my pink top was missing along with the wash bag. Although I didn’t have to pay for the washing I was annoyed that I was now left with only two cycle tops one of which is too warm to wear in hot countries.

We managed to set off early, the first 9 miles were quite built up and industrial in parts, not very pretty but very flat.

Once we were out in the countryside we passed lots of spice and herb farms and cycled through a number of small villages. Although there were a number of small hills it was relatively easy cycling and we arrived at our hotel by lunchtime.

We were greeted by the owner who asked us if we wanted a cold beer, which was a silly question. It would have been rude to refuse so we accepted whilst the owner provided us with some information about the property. Our chalet was set within 13 acres of woodland, it was beautiful, it had a lovely wooden balcony which looked out into the forest. As we entered the property we could see the bed was covered in fresh flowers, which was very romantic.

As I was starving and dinner was not scheduled until 7.00pm once we’d changed and showered we took a ride into town for some lunch, we stopped at a roadside shop and purchased some maggi noodles, biscuits and snacks, which we ate on the balcony whilst listening to the forest and reading our kindles.

The evening meal was a traditional Sri Lankan curry dish which consisted of a number of vegetable dishes, including dahl, beetroot, salad, and a chicken and rice dish.

There were two other couples staying at the hotel both were from France. We had spoken earlier in the day to another resident, she was an older lady who had stayed at the hotel for 6 years, she was taking a break to stay in Istanbul for 3 months, she said she found the hotel a little isolated as she had no means of transport and she was very reliant on others. I can only imagine she had quite a lot of money, because it was not a cheap hotel, we had got it at a discounted £20 per night.

Day 128
10th August
Naula to Dambulla and Sigiriya

We had breakfast in one of the roadside cafes a simple dish of a large bloomer size loaf of bread cut into four chunks with dahl and a spicy chilly mix, the bread was really light and much to my surprise we ate the whole loaf and half of another loaf of bread. It is just as well we’re cycling all day otherwise we’d both be huge.

Our first stop was the Dambulla temple caves, lots of cheeky monkeys, several tried to steel Gary’s bag which contained our passports, wallet and camera. The caves were ok but I think we have probably been a little bit spoilt because we have seen Buddhas all over India and throughout Sri Lanka and the Caves just contained more Buddhas in different poses.

As it was still early we cycled onto Sigiriya, to see the Lion Rock. Our hotel was awful, there’s budget and budget (Gary; shit hole), the bathroom door didn’t fit the frame, so it wouldn’t close, where the window should have been there was just a hole in the wall which was bound to let in all the wildlife into the room. On top of which the wall leading to the main corridor was made of frosted glass which you could see through therefore giving us no privacy.

We decided we’d spend as little time in the room as possible and cycled into town. As we approached the town we could see two elephants having a wash in the river, these were working elephants which were used to offer elephant rides through the town. We stopped to watch them for a bit and were amused by one of the elephants who was using his trunk to blow bubbles under the water giving himself a little jacuzzi. The town was a small shanty town with a handful of shops and cafes on a dusty road leading to the rock. We decided we couldn’t justify £35 to climb a rock and instead we went for a cycle ride around the rock. On our way round we spotted another rock and temple and decided to climb this so that we could get a view of the area. The fee was £5.00 for both of us a bargain compared to the fee for Sigiriya Rock. It only took about 30 minutes to climb up the rock most of the climb was simply a case of walking up some steep steps but the 2nd half of the climb was quite strenuous and meant climbing up some large rocks. The views at the top were worth it, although it was a little windy as you can see from our hair in the photos. We could also see people climbing Sigiriya rock, they looked line sheep in a very long line we’re glad we didn’t pay the extortionate fee to climb it.

On our way back to the hotel I spotted a wild elephant in the bush, I called back to Gary and although he could see it was too dark to take a decent picture but it felt so much better seeing one in the wild than seeing the numerous working elephants we have seen since being in Sri Lanka.

Gary, all the worrying Ginette has put into meeting these fierce Elephants in the wild, and there she was, stopped within 10 feet of a loose Elephant in the woods calm as can be watching it eat.
Our wildlife experience was not to end there, when we got back to the hotel room we saw two frogs, one actually in our toilet, a gheko a white spider and numerous mosquitos, with no toilet door we were in for an interesting nights sleep.

Gary; the spider was found hiding under the toilet seat waiting to bite Nets bum, just as well I visited the loo first.

Day 129
11th August
Sigiriya to Girithale
30 miles

No surprise we didn’t sleep that well and both woke feeling a little tired. Breakfast was the usual omelette, toast and fruit, the coffee was disgusting, people in Sri Lanka clearly do not drink coffee as I am yet to have a decent cup of coffee.

We set off for our next destination, we had scheduled in a safari in one of the national parks so had intentionally kept the mileage low so that we could be finished by lunch time.

Gary; We cycled through and around the edges of Elephant country, any time we were around houses there would be large electric fences to keep the Elephants out. Hence we had our ears and eyes in the forest in the hope of another sighting. We saw lots of poo, smelt the heads but no viewings. It is weird cycling along in the open knowing that such large animals are really close by.

When we arrived at our hotel they had no record of the booking which was rather fortunate because it looked a bit like a prison, we tried the next hotel along the road but this was fully booked so we back tracked up the road as we had seen a rather nice looking hotel. Gary managed to negotiate a room for £20 including a half price dinner, not bad going but the room is no comparison to the room we stayed in a few nights ago for the same price. After a lunch of mixed veg noodles I went back to the room to find my bed covered in ants, on closer inspection across the floor I could see either cockroach or mouse or even gecko poo yuk! And don’t even ask me about the bathroom, I am getting to the point of wanting to carry a bottle of bleach with me so that I can clean half the sink just to show them how clean it should be, sad I know.

We went on an elephant safari in the afternoon which was good fun but expensive. Sods law we even saw some wild elephants on the way to the park, which was along the road we had cycled to the hotel on. On arrival at the park there were lots of jeeps and I was a little bit disappointed, it felt like we were queuing for a ride in a theme park but once through the gates our driver made sure that most of the time we were on our own. We felt very safe with him, he clearly knew the park and he managed to find several herds of elephants including baby elephants. We also saw water buffalo, more monkeys (of the bearded type) a deer, peacocks, sea eagles and lots of other birds that we didn’t recognise. We took lots and lots of photos thank god for digital cameras.

It was an enjoyable afternoon but I have a feeling we will probably see more wild elephant before we leave Sri Lanka. I can only hope they’re of the friendly, placid type that we saw and not the type that one of the jeeps encountered because looking at the dent in the jeeps bonnet they can do a lot of damage if you upset them.

Dinner was the traditional Sri Lankan curry dish, it wasn’t great made worse by the fact that we’ve eaten the same thing for several nights now. It is a bit like going out for a roast every night, I don’t expect this will change until we hit Australia or New Zealand.
Day 130
12th Aug
Girithale to Kalkudah
53 miles

We both slept surprising well and as a result woke up and set off early.

We cycled towards Polonnaruwa but when we arrived at the ancient city we decided to give it a miss. We have done a lot of sight seeing in Sri Lanka and I don’t think we would have appreciated it especially as it was going to cost another £35 to enter. Instead we decided to cycle to the coast.

As we cycled through the main town of Polonnaruwa I spotted a hairdressers, my hair has been driving me mad, it just seems to get thicker and thicker so off it came. It cost me the grand sum of £1.50. It was a strange experience as the hairdresser could not speak english and was being instructed by the receptionist.

Once back on the road we set off on a long undulating, dusty road to the coast, we could see for miles around. The landscape was mainly arid and flat with a few watering holes. I did manage to spot a very large lizard at least a meter long and several smaller lizards, I also spotted another wild elephant. Whilst on the wildlife front we are getting pretty good at identifying bird calls with birds, we now just need to learn what their called.

Once we arrived at our destination we booked into the first guest house we came across, quickly showered and headed for the beach. The beach had beautiful fine sand, it was really quiet expect for a handful of people and a few cows! yes I did say cows. It was a really long beach with the sea gently crashing on to the shore. As it was hot (40c+) we both headed straight for the sea, it was amazingly warm the rest of the afternoon was spent lazing on the beach.

We had dinner at the guest house and again it was a Sri Lankan curry.
Day 131
Kalkudah to Tricomale
72 miles
A Hard day at the office.

Last night was a nightmare just as I was relaxing to go to bed Gary informed me there was a huge cockroach on the toilet! I couldn’t possibly go to the loo with it there so tried to get rid of him with out any luck Gary had to come and rescue me. I later went to the loo to find 2 frogs in the bathroom 1 in the toilet (again) and the other on the wall along with 2 geckos. I can cope with frogs and geckos but large cockroaches in doors yukkkkkk.

Finally went to sleep to be woken by Gary who had been sleeping in another bed to keep cool creepy onto my bed for a cuddle, because he’d spooked himself.

Gary; My ghost sighting!
You need to bear in mind that the current book Im reading by Jodie Picoult has spirits and ghosts in the story, plus we are an area that was badly hit by the boxing day Tsunami and Ginette’s hissy fit about the Cockroach just before we went to sleep. So scene set.
I am woken by a noise from Ginette’s bed as she sits up the end of the bed and just sits still in the dark. I can just make her out but she looks to wearing a button up outfit I don’t recognise. I ask if she needs me to escort her to the loo (Cockroach hunting) but she doesn’t say anything then after I try to focus on her properly she disappears, a little disconcerting! I can now see Net fast asleep on the bed. I must admit this all made my hairs stand on end so will leave the believers and doubters to there own conclusions, me I just think my mind played tricks on me but that said I don’t now what the noise was that woke me?
So I tell myself off, I am obviously tired and seeing things plus the books and Tsunami talk play on your sub-conscious.

Ginette – Oh how Gary has changed!! who would have thought 4 months ago that he would believe in ghosts, grow his hair, wear skirts and even eat messy food with his fingers – what ever next???

Last night was not good preparation for the ride ahead. We had hoped to stop at the 30 mile mark but unfortunately couldn’t find any accommodation and ended up cycling 72 miles! in temperatures in excess of 35c at one point Gary’s garmin registered 50c! It was a long, hot and boring day the terrain was mainly flat and arid.

To break the boredom I raced Gary through one village much to the amusement of the local boys sitting at the side of the road taking a picture of us (of course Gary didn’t know I was racing him until I flew passed him). A similar incident happened earlier in the day a young man on a bike went to overtake me and I my competitive spirit kicked in and off I went, he was gobsmacked, Gary had to explain that the gears on my bike helped me get the speed up.

I had thought we were going to be cycling along a coast road with beautiful views but unfortunately we didn’t see the sea all day until we were 12 miles away from our destination at which point we parked the bikes and went and sat in the sea fully clothed, Gary couldn’t resist lying down in it and rolling around, we were so hot. By the time we came out and got a cold drink from one of the little kiosks quite a crowd had gathered.

I’d further hoped we would end up in a lovely coastal town but so far all we’ve seen if a smelly port and a very busy town. There were lots of westerners around so we’re hoping when we explore further we maybe a beach for us to enjoy tomorrow.

On arriving in the town we tried to find some reasonably priced accommodation after a couple of attempts we found one for £20 with an on site restaurant that sold cheap food. Gary opted for another curry and rice dish whereas I chose a khotti dish which is a stir fried dish.

At one of our stops earlier in the day I had fantasised about carrying a featherlight fridge with me filled with ice cold lemon soda drink. As the day went on I added the following lightweight items a chilled bottle of sauvignon blanc, cheese, olives, crackers, salad, galaxy chocolate, large packet haribo sweets, lemon yogurt and strawberries. Clearly a lady of simple tastes – Gary wanted to add a packet of chocolate hob nobs what would your light weight dream fridge contain? Interesting to note all the items we’ve chosen are either not available in Sri Lanka or are very expensive with the exception of the lemon soda and crackers.

Day 132
14th August

We both woke feeling knackered and agreed before we cycled the next 70 miles we needed a little break, this was made more tempting as we were close to a beach.

We had hoped we could book a further nights stay in the hotel we had slept in the previous night but unfortunately they were fully booked. The owner kindly rang a colleague and we went to look at his rooms (we had been there the night before) but unfortunately he only had rooms with attached bathrooms. We went back to our base and booked a hotel on line only to be informed when we arrived that he was also fully booked. By this stage we had lost most of the morning and had not even had breakfast. We decided the best course of action was to go knocking on doors and after several attempts found a room for £25!

We tried to make the best of the rest of the day, first by heading to the beach for some lunch and relaxation but the restaurants were really expensive so we headed back to the main street and had curry and rice with drinks (staple diet in Sri Lanka) for less than the price of a sandwich on the beach. We then headed back to the beach we had about an 1 or 2 hours on the before the rain started as it turned out it was just as well as we both had caught the sun and just missed being burnt.

We had dinner in a local restaurant, whilst waiting for our food to arrive we met a young woman and a young man who had met in Colombo whilst travelling in Sri Lanka and were travelling together (but not in a ‘couple). They were travelling to a number of areas we had been and so we were able to share our experiences.

We had an early night so that we could get an early start in the morning.

Day 133
15th August
Trincomale to Anuradkupura
70 miles

We both woke several times in the night but waited until 6.30am to get up and head off.

It was much cooler when we set off than it had been on the previous day which was a pleasant surprise 27 degrees. Not long after setting off Gary thought he had found a short cut although scenic it didn’t shorten the journey as we apparently took a wrong turn.

The ride itself was fairly pleasant we were entertained by lots of birds including peacocks, parakeets, kingfishers (including three in a row on the overhead cables, with only a post distance between them) and lot of other colourful birds bright yellow, bright blue and bright green. Pelicans, Storks, cranes. We also saw lots of beautiful big butterflies, a mongoose, a dead fruit bat hanging from a telegraph cable, water buffalo and lots of fair sized lizards (even turtle road kill). The landscape was greener and more lumpy than our long ride into Trincomale. However 70 miles is still along way to cycle when you have in excess of 40kg to pedal in hot humid temperatures. Other than the wildlife the other motivating factor was the smily faces of the Sri Lankan people especially the children, there faces light up when they see us and they often call out ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ and through one town a group of children tried to run alongside the bikes.

Gary; At the 50 mile mark our bodies were complaining, we had tried to break today in two but couldn’t find any accommodation, so we had to grin and bear it as we knew before we set of we had 70 miles to do. the temperatures was around 38 degrees as we had some cloud cover which we were both glad of.

Not long after arriving at our guest house a thunder storm erupted out side which lasted for over an hour, it was the first proper rain they have had in this area for three months, it was pretty amazing but reminded us that we made the right decision to leave India when we did. The rain was torrential and we were grateful we had arrived before it had caught us.

The guest house we stayed in was a lovely detached building with an amazing staircase, the room was a little small and throughout the thunder storm and for most of the evening we had no lights or air conditioning due to a power cut.
The family we stayed with were lovely but spoke very little English which made it hard to communicate with them.

Gary; I have now finished “leaving time” by Jodie Piqoult, so hopefully no more ghost episodes for me.

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