Sunday, February 27, 2011

Old emails: 2005 Sri Lanka

Old post I found from Sri Lanka which has a lot to do with my time in Bangkok so I thought I would re-post it:

September 8, 2005
Colombo, Sri Lanka

I did a (stupid? fun? adventuresome? foolish?) thing yesterday. I was a little tired of riding the buses
from town to town. While they are cheap, they are often crowded and I was afraid I wouldn't get a seat on this last bus. But first a little back story...

Sunday, after taking the bus and a tuk tuk to Sigiriya (about 3 hours from Kandy), I decied to go on safari. We took a jeep out to the national park and I saw three herds of wild elephants, some monkeys, wild peacocks, and tons of painted storks. It was really fun and a little expensive on my budget ($50). I then went to the posh $200/night hotel to have a drink and hang out and soak in the ambience rather than sit on the porch of my rather seedy run down rest house and drink lime and soda. The guesthouse workers told me that I need to "watch out for elephants in the road' at night so its not safe to walk (which is probably a lie - these guys would squeeze money out of a turnip)
so they gave me a taxi (not a tuk tuk for 80rupees but a taxi for $35 a day). The fancy hotel is about a 2 minute drive down the road from my rest house. "Pay what you like Madam", they said. I said "Okay, I'd like to pay nothing."

Anyway, the one gin and tonic I drank made me loopy. I blame not drinking for a week and the incredibly
intense ayurvedic massage I had which made me feel like a side of Kobe beef being tenderized for the

On the way back to my guest house, after almost running over a cobra, I agreed to take a motorbike to Polonarruwa yesterday. Thats' right, ride on the back of a dirtbike with my backpack on for two and a half hours. Now the reason why this is foolish is that the cars in sri lanka practice "trickle" style driving. If there is a hole in traffic, they trickle into it. Nature abhors a vaccuum and all that. So, as I clung to the back of my slightly fat Sri Lankan driver in a helmet that turns out to be made of styrofoam, we zoomed in and out of traffic with buses, 18 wheelers, tuk tuks, army jeeps, and cars alternatively passing us (while sometimes passing anothr truck simultaneously) on a two lane road  that winds up through the jungle. I was scared out of my mind (not to mention in pain from my backpack which has too many books in it and breathing exhaust). It was, in the words of Jonathan Coe or somebody "a supposedly fun thing I'll never do again". We also had to dodge people, dogs, a water monitor, cows, and a goat while driving along. I was also told to keep an eye out for elephants as we took a shortcut through a national park.

I'm lucky to be alive. all of this took place after I climbed Sigiriya rock fortress (which takes two hours) and climbed another mountain to look at some buddhist caves. My back, legs, and arms are dying but I'm too afraid to get another ayurvedic massage.

I wrote that yesterday, today I took the 5 hour bus from Polonnaruwa to Colombo. I think our driver might have actually been a demon from hell. He drove like a crazy person. I began laughing fiendishly whenever
some new unsuspecting soul got on the bus - GOOD LUCK SUCKER! We made it somehow and I'm now having culture shock as I sit in our luxury hotel that Joel reserved for us. 

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