After nearly 4 weeks travelling from South to North in Sri Lanka, we are heading towards our final few days. I am currently sat in room in the small mountain town of Nallthnniya (Dalhousie) situated at the base of Adam’s Peak – believed to be the place where God decided to chuck old Adam down to Earth to start populating. Adam’s peak is also the home to a “footprint”, believed to be that of Adam, Buddha or Shiva, depending on which religion you believe in – probably all bollocks but each to there own.
Anyway, it has been a week or so since my last post so I thought I should update you on what Soph and I have been up to. After departing Kandy we headed north to a small town called Dambulla, which houses some of the holiest of ancient Buddhist ruins in the country, the Dambulla Cave Temples. After arriving in Dambulla around lunchtime we set off to find ourselves somewhere to stay, coming across a reasonable place called Ranmal Guesthouse. After a bit of to-and-fro in the inevitable game of call my bluff that is required in order to determine a “fair” price for accommodation, we got him down to £7 ish (Rs 1500) for the night and went off to find the caves. The caves themselves where located up a number of steps with scatterings of monkeys, tat sellers and old tourists struggling with the sun and the physical effort required. It was worth the climb as the 4 or 5 cave temples were impressive, and no need to hire a guide, just follow behind some other mugs that have and look inconspicuous.
Dambulla town was just a long stretch of busy main road with fuck all to do, and not many places to eat that weren’t put there specifically for tourists. So, after descending the hill and determining that Dambulla was in fact a shithole, we decided one night was enough, so we prepared to bail out the following morning. Our original plan was to head to Sigiriya for the day, however after a bit more investigation into the old archaeological site of an ancient city, it turned out that entrance tickets were about £20 per person. As our joint budget is around £20 per day we decided to sack that idea off – we later found out from a German couple that Sigiriya was actually one of the best of Sri Lanka’s overpriced tourist attractions, so we ended up being a little gutted we made the rash call to knock the idea on the head, but oh well, you live and learn.
So, from Dambulla we headed up to the North East coast to the large port town of Trincomalee. Instead of staying in the town we opted to take a bit of beach life, and caught a bus 5km north to a small beach village called Uppuveli where we set up for 4 days/nights of rest and relaxation away the from the busy towns and cities found further inland. Life here was fairly uneventful – which is what we wanted – giving us some time to recoup and top up the tan. Trincomalee, or I should say Uppuveli where we were staying, was great – quiet beach, barely any annoying beach sellers, nice cheap food (if you look in the right places – not on the beach), and easier access to beer – which was a growing concern based on our experience of buying beer in Kandy (see my last post) – this time there was a bar right outside our guesthouse full of the towns local drunkards.
Even more buses were to follow after leaving Trincomalee. Buses in Sri Lanka are incredibly cheap, generally getting you pretty much anywhere in the country for no more that about 20p – £1 (Rs 40 – Rs 200) per person. On buses you get the joy of coming across the country’s “bus folk”. Generally carrying bags of all sorts of shit, they have very limited spatial awareness, and any gap on the bus is a viable seat for them, no matter how small! When sat extremely close to Sri Lanka’s bus folk, as I regularly am, you are often treated to the delightful sight and aroma of Paan, a red chewing tobacco which, like hamsters, the local men (generally not women) will keep inside their cheek, chewing it and occasionally spitting out a large quantity of red juicy skank – lovely!
After Trinco we headed back west to the ancient city of Anuradhapura, another of the country’s overpriced (and this one really was!) tourist attractions. We arrived and were again in need of a cheap roof over our heads, so set off with our heavy bags into the scorching afternoon sun until we found somewhere – which was in the ass end of nowhere, but it was close enough to the train station for an easy departure the next day. We again decided to not pay the Rs 3500 (£17 ish) ticket price to enter Anuradhapura’s ancient city site, which is free to locals may I add, so we just walked round the fringes of a few of the areas, even getting close enough to see and photograph a few of the more popular buildings without paying a cent. Haha, two fingers up to the Sri Lankan tourist board! Again, similar to Dambulla, it is only really the ‘old city’ site that people come to Anuradhapura for, so we made our escape the following morning, heading back to Sri Lanka’s capital city to plan our trip to Adam’s Peak.
The train to Colombo was long, and when we finally arrived we again were straight on an accommodation hunt. We met a tourist guide on the street who directed us towards the City Motel. What a fucking dive that place was. The dick at the front desk wanted to charge us Rs 2900 (£14 ish) for a double room or almost £10 for two single beds in a dorm room. We humoured him and went to look at the dorm. What sort of fucking place has walls that don’t even go up to the ceiling?! Unimpressed and generally hating Colombo for letting us down so badly in not providing any decent budget accommodation we headed back to the station to go to the next city along the coast, Negombo, to find something more in our price range. We did, it was cheap, it was hole, but it was our hole…with walls.
Now here I sit after 8 hours of travelling from Negombo, we made it to the town at the base of Adam’s Peak, ate a massive plate of rice & curry for less than a £1 a plate, and are preparing ourselves for climbing the mountain – starting at around 2–3am, getting there for sunrise, then back down and (as it is expensive to stay here) we are heading back to Negombo straight away – absolute mission!
Sorry for the long update, but a week is a long time. Photos and an update on the climb to follow soon…