and so to sri lanka

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a traditional sailing boat. negombo.


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fishermen heading out to sea. one fisherman told me they would be out at sea in these small craft for 11 hours


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the rigging of a small catamaran

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a sailors knot

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catamaran on negombo beach

Arriving in Sri Lanka was a pleasant experience. I assembled my bicycle in the airport terminal building in the company of locals who would pop over to say hello, enquire as to my journey and then carry on with whatever it was they had to carry on with. The airport itself is new clean and efficient and seems to have cottoned on to the 21st century in a way that India has not.

A short ride north is Negombo, a seaside town that served quite perfectly as a staging post for me to unfold my map and, if not exactly make a plan, then at least figure out a loose idea of how to spend a couple of weeks here.

My first destination was Kandy, a city that when I was last there some nine years ago was charming in its tranquility. Alas that scourge of the 21st century, traffic and its attendant pollution, has taken a firm grip on the city. Disappointed I did not linger long.

I left early on Sunday, the morning after Sri Lanka had come a commendable second to India in the cricket world cup final. Sri Lankans were understandably disappointed, but to get through to the final is a major achievement in itself, or I told many people.

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a local bike

After twenty five kilometres the bedlam of belching fumes and chaotic traffic that blights modern day Kandy quickly diminishes and highway 5 takes on a new personality. It is a wide well surfaced road with a clean shoulder clear of any debris beyond a few sleeping dogs and fewer sleeping Sri Lankans. I soon settle into the pleasant flowing rhythm of a constant gently gradiented climb.

It was not my sense of sight, rather the rich fragrance playing on my sense of smell that told me I was entering what may be dubbed, the tea zone.

The road twisted this way and that as it climbed through the ever thickening tea plantations and I felt happy to be where I was, simply dwelling in the moment. By the time my altimeter was reading 900 metres the temperature was noticeably cooler, I checked, it was a splendid twenty six degrees with a light cooling breeze as the climb eased off for a while and gently rose and fell and twisted as the fragrance of pine began to mingle with that of tea as the forest I passed through gave shade from the sun.

“Time for a break Walks” I told myself as I pulled into a small roadside cafe. “Do you have tea?” I asked the jovial looking proprietor. “Yes sir, as it happens we do have tea today” he said as he looked out at the endless vista of tea bushes spreading through hills and valleys into the far distance. Feeling a bit of a twit I smiled meekly and asked if I could trouble him for a cup. My tea was Sub-Continent style, that is to say sweet and milky, and as it quenched my thirst I watched a neatly dressed fellow go about his business. He seemed busy but some way short of industrious. The first move I saw him make was to measure out what I assume to be an important distance on the patio outside the cafe. He looked satisfied with the outcome and sat down for a little ponder that looked in grave danger of developing into a nap. A blast from the horn of a passing rickshaw as it narrowly avoided a distinguished looking lady meandering across the road chivied him back to conciseness and assuming a puzzled expression he rose, retook his measurement and then retook his seat. I decided that this had the potential of being an interesting form of lunch time entertainment and ordered veg fried rice. By the time I had finished my lunch he had retaken the measurement, seat, and nap no less that five times and continued to look bewildered by it all. I settled my bill, thanked the waiter and as I left the busy man smiled. I smiled back and doing my very best to look sincere I asked him what he was up to. “I am not really sure” he said. I believed him.

The climb now resumed in earnest. I passed through a tunnel. Tunnels have a tendency to leave me feeling unsettled, I don’t know why, they just do. Emerging into daylight the other end there was a large stone plaque explaining that to me that I had just passed through ‘the longest tunnel system in Sri Lanka. Length 200 metres’; this pleased me. The climb twisted and turned through estates and past tea factories. It became cooler and many people greeted me pleasantly as I climbed, which was nice. Someone threw cold water at me from a bus, which was not nice. This unsettled me as it brought about a murderous emotion that I thought unsuitable in such beautiful surroundings so I stopped and rested, the vista was quite beautiful.

 

My plan now to spend a week up here in the hill country. The altitude where I am now is 1800 metres and it seems that fate has landed me here at a fine time. The rain season has yet to begin, the day time temperature is warm and the night time temperature is perfect to enjoy the benefit of a big down duvet.

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now this gave me food for thought. the owner saw me photographing his rickshaw and was eager to finalise a sale

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a church in negombo town

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these chains form an extension to the guttering to prevent the rain splashing

to the ground.

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law offices, kandy.

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roof tops, kandy

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6 thoughts on “and so to sri lanka

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