All of the detail is outstanding, although I'm sure that it just convinces many readers "no, don't think I'd want to do that." You drove far more kilometres in that tuktuk than I would have expected. That is really great testimony to how robust they are.
The hamlet of plaster animals is great. Can it be assumed that they are for sale? I'll take the bright yellow felines of questionable genetic heritage.
The trains did not seem overcrowded to me, especially with nobody riding on the roof.
Apart from a tendency to clamber down from the platform onto the rails to see if they can see the train coming (!!!) the local people use trains pretty much as we do. Mark mentioned the busy train line runs close to the sea all the way south to Galle. When the Tsunami hit the coast it swept many trains off the rails and some were swirled into the sea. Much of the city of Galle was destroyed including the famous cricket ground. The South Australian Cricket club raised money and members and players went over and worked on the infrastructure, helping to get it quickly restored as a morale booster for the people. (Sri Lankans are as crazy about cricket as Indians.)
Mark, glad you found some "3 in 1"...so easy, but they didn't let me bring any through Oz quarantine. Although it lists 'non-dairy whitener' they maintained it 'might' have milk in it and could destroy our dairy industry.
The animals and stuff were set up at the side of the road and were for sale. I didn't mention that. There is one with a man holding a flag with his arm and fist pointing forward. I must admit I took a note of his name and saw the same type of statue around the country. But, as with these things, I've lost the note I made. Can't seem to find him again with a quick look on the internet. Probably something to do with independence but not sure now. None of the trains I saw were too crowded but I bet you might struggle to get a seat.
With the tuktuk over that time I averaged about 120km a day, though that does include rest days. I tried to plan it so that I'd finish driving around lunchtime, have a walk round in the afternoon and evening and move on the next day. On rest days I'd still use it thought to get around and see a bit of stuff. They do seem to be quite robust and I was never concerned about breaking down as every third person seems to be able to repair them.
As regards the train deaths from the tsunami, I have no idea about other crashes but there was one which caused the death of at least 1700 people and probably more. The worst in history. I have a small entry about that later on. It occurred on the south west coast at about the 7 o'clock position on the island. More info if necessary -
I arrived at a place called Arugam Bay and decided I'd have a day off and just relax. I half sort of wish I hadn't. The place I was staying was neither good nor bad. Mid-range between the two really. The bay is supposed to be one of the best spots for surfing in the country. If it was, then I wouldn't hold out much hope for the rest of it. Maybe I was just there on an off day. It was fine enough I suppose but I wasn't too enamoured with the place at all. Maybe fine for a night or two and to stock up a little bit on westernised food, but other than that, nothing much going for me. I did have a pizza though upon arrival, and it was actually quite good -
My place was a couple of minutes from the beach so I had a walk down –
Finally hitting it. During the tsunami of 2004, this place was one of those completely devastated. Since then many of fishing boats that were destroyed or swept away have been replaced by donations. One local man was a little indiscreet in telling me that there were twice as many boats now as there were fishermen. They were just lying on the beach rotting away -
I had a bit of a lie in the next day. Had breakfast and went for an amble round, up and down the beach, through the village and generally had a holiday day, as it were. I went for a drive round as well just to see if I'd missed anything of interest. No I hadn't, so some random shots of the surf and beach area –
Just in case –
I couldn't believe it. As soon as my back was turned, Crunchy decided he needed a holiday as well –
Moving on again the next day. I'd had enough really of this place. Neither one thing nor t'other.
Those discarded fish with spikes are puffer fish aka blow fish, toadies and other names. Very toxic in spines and meat, it is the fish used in Japan to make fugu.
I am glad Crunchy had a chance to hit the waves, neat bit of body surfing there. By the time you start making pics like this I feel you are getting a bit bored.
When the tsunami hit hundreds of fishermen were lost at sea. The boats were replaced but it will take a couple of generations to replace the men, specially as many of the women no longer have husbands. The knowledge and experience of professional fishers which the boys learnt from their fathers has to be revived.
"there were twice as many boats now as there were fishermen" should perhaps be "There are only half as many fishermen as there are boats". It is a shame the boats are left to rot though.
Travel! Set out and head for pastures new[br] Life tastes the richer when you’ve road worn feet.[br]Ibn Battuta[br]
They are Hindu temples with Dravidian architecture. Plenty around here.
This guy needed propping up after getting too close to Big Ben at noon –
There were quite a few of these statues in the middle of the road as I was going all around the country. Some were national figures, some were religious and some local. Nearly every time though the plaque was unreadable to me. I must admit that normally when driving the tuktuk I kept my camera away in a bag and often couldn't be bothered to fuss about getting it out just for the one shot. I tried slinging it around my neck on the strap for instant access. But after an hour or so of nothing, with a sweaty sore red mark, I'd put it back away again -
The odd occasion in my route I needed to accomplish a certain distance but was not really doable in one day. Well, I could have done but wasn't inclined to do it. That meant I slipped past a few probably decent places and ended up somewhere roughly halfway. Another time I'd have stopped here –
But I didn't. I moved on to a place called Kalkudah. That also was a place talked up by people but again, I couldn't quite see the attraction of it. It also was one town I thought of having a day at, but I was glad I didn't. However, I did have one of the nicest accommodations out of the lot. It was a bit cheeky with the photos on the booking website because they'd angled the camera to miss out on the not yet built bit. The room though was excellent for the same price as other times and after a walk round I spent quite a bit of time getting even wrinklier in the pool. The view from my balcony –
The pool and new part yet to be completed. Nobody was working and so it didn't disturb me. Clean, chic, well made rooms with numerous power points of all description and light and airy. The pool was spotless. Plus a big balcony –
There were a couple of large resort type hotels knocking around I saw whilst scoping the place out in the tuktuk. But little else. In fact I'd decided to have lunch before checking in so drove round looking for somewhere decent to eat. No joy was to be had so I ended up driving about 6km to the next town that was busy and had a greater choice. Later I took more photos of my location –
Looking back to my place from the beach area. My room was in the top right corner –
Whilst I was having lunch in the other town, just by the road, I saw a western cyclist come past loaded up with panniers and heading in the direction of where I was staying. In fact I saw quite a few over time having cycling holidays in the country with their own bikes and equipment. Camping is not a concept there but it would be easy enough, especially around the coast where it is flat, to do a tour without much problem. I drove back a short time after but missed the man until walking back from the beach when he was walking the other way. We stopped and had a short conversation.
He was Dutch (not a surprise really) and had had a couple of weeks with his wife doing the normal stuff. Both were retired but she wasn't much of a cyclist, so they had used normal transport. She then flew home, leaving him for the next two weeks to knock around how he wanted. Nice bloke. But, he had fallen into the sort of trap I had. Luckily I had the tuktuk if needed. He was disappointed there were absolutely no beach bars and restaurants and wondered if he'd have to cycle back where I'd been for a meal. I didn't see him that night, maybe he did, maybe he didn't. But he did say that he'd tend to do sixty to seventy kilometres each day at a steady pace, which was fine by him, and he sometimes had to end up also in the middle of nowhere -
That evening I couldn't be bothered to drive again so I walked back to the village as I'd spotted just a small local place that would have been good enough for me. It had about three tables and the menu didn't exist. One of those places where you ask what they have and you take it or leave it. I took it without a problem as one option was my usual veg fried rice. On the way walking there I was stopped by a Russian couple who it turns out were having their holiday in one of the resort hotels. They'd been there several days, all inclusive, and decided to that night go out for a meal. Apparently they'd walked up and down, back and forth for over an hour trying to find somewhere. He spoke good English. Accented for sure, but still very good.
I pointed out about the only restaurant there was within walking distance, the one I was heading for, and after a short conversation between them, they headed back to their hotel. They were having two weeks in the same place. I wasn't envious. I sat down and ate and just before I left three middle-aged women, obviously western, came in. I'd seen them eyeing me up from outside. They were just discussing though that if I was there, it couldn't have been too bad. And as there seemed to be nothing else, they thought they'd risk it.
The three were Spanish. The one who was the most fluent I found out lived a short distance away from my brother and knew his apartment block because she had a friend living there as well. One of those 'small world' moments. Before they sat down they were asking me about other restaurants around. I told them that the choice seemed to be either here, in one of the big hotels or make their way to the next town. They were using public transport for a few weeks, seeing all the normal sites and she told me, they had decided to spend six days here. Quite why I didn't ascertain. Maybe they had read the same bumf I'd read. They fervently hoped there was a lot more to do and were quite disappointed when I expressed my opinion that I'd seen nothing much at all. They wanted to spend the day on the beach and their nights restaurant/cafe/bar hopping.
I bid them goodbye and good luck as I'd just paid my bill, and left them speaking rapidly to each other, plenty of hand gestures, all talking at the same time and each pointing in a different direction.
My area in Lusaka has had no electricity for the last four days because of heavy rain and storms. Thus no internet for most of the day. I'm getting a little behind in my report but bear with me. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.
I arrived in Trincomalee about lunchtime, as usual. Again the place I stayed was fairly new and well fitted out. It was tucked away off the main road and near to the beach, but not on it. I wasn't intending to spend time here on the beach anyway but I had a quick walk down to see what it looked like. Not too bad really –
After a bite to eat I had a run to a nearby British military graveyard. These are maintained all over the world by an organisation in the UK, or rather they pay to have it maintained. As expected it was very quiet and somewhat of a breathing space from the city. I was alone apart from a couple of groundsmen until I was just leaving when two young Sri Lankan males turned up and had an expensive camera each.
They started taking a load of shots but looked like they were doing it at random. I asked why they had visited. They told me they were from Colombo and were freelance professional photographers. The idea with this place was just to get some scenic shots to carry on building up their library which they used for advertising and occasionally selling them. I asked if they knew anything about the graveyard and they professed that they didn't, but it was nice and green with the white headstones as a counterpoint. I left them to it.
I was initially confused by the dates on some of the headstones as I thought it was just from WWII. But some were from a lot later. I discovered that anyone who was serving in the UK forces and sometimes their family, were buried here. Not just those killed in the war. Plus many from different countries who I wasn't sure were with the allied forces or not. But I do know that several Netherlands Navy ships were in the vicinity with the British ships.
After the fall of Singapore the main base of operations for the area moved to Colombo and Trincomalee. On the 5th and 9th of April 1942 the Japanese attacked, including some of the forces and pilots that had attacked Pearl Harbour.
You will often see reference to S.S. or HMS. Normally they refer to a particular ship. But as is usual with the British Navy, shore bases also are named like that. I do know for sure HMS Hermes was a proper ship but when the Japanese attacked, they had mistimed it somewhat. The majority of the British fleet weren't there. They were in the Maldives. Historians say that because of this mistake, Ceylon escaped from being overwhelmed by troop landings.
Your cemetery would be run b te Commonwealth War Graves Commission which is responsible for all military funerals and maintains such places all over the world. If you know of someone who died in militaey service jaut put their name in the search service on the CWGC website and it will locate their grave for you. Very moving places with the stones laid out in regular rows.
Man is not lost, only temporarily uncertain of his position
I've never had need to use their website but thanks for the reminder of it. In the Trip Advisor reviews of this cemetery there are a number who compliment how well it is maintained as opposed to local ones and saying it is a mark of respect from Sri Lankans for those that lost their lives. Someone had to point out to them the real reason, i.e. the CWGC, as to why.
It was time for a look round the city. I headed to a temple called Sri Pathrakali Amman. I parked up the tuktuk and had a walk round the exterior. There was a certain amount of repetition in the figures, of which few I could identify, but very colourful all the same –
It is a Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Bhadrakali, a form of the goddess Kali Amman. Dravidian architecture as before but no doubt has had substantial changes as a temple has been here since before the 11th Century. One unusual thing, as if the whole thing is not unusual enough, is that it was mentioned in a Wilbur Smith book, Birds of Prey. I was not really dressed properly for temple attendance but as I was taking a few shots of the entrance, one man who was exiting told me it was ok to go inside. Another man just inside also beckoned me in. I pointed to my mode of dress (shorts and T shirt) and he just shrugged and said it was fine. Photos also, which is often not the case.
So inside I went. Jeez, talk about decorated. By the way, if you get confused and occasionally forget the name of one of their Gods, you can be forgiven because even though there are but few main ones, in theory there are 33 million of them. I will let you feast your eyes -
All I can say about that is if you are going to celebrate a religion, make it LOUD. Not for me those cold, imposing, reverential and barely interesting churches. Let's have a bit of colour and something to look at. That'll do as a bit of an eye fest for now. I still have a fair bit to post from around the country, but more when I have a bit more time.
The Hindu divinities look like perfect fodder for a Disney movie, but without even going into the potential for sacrilege (which I kind of doubt is an issue since there are plenty of old Indian movies portraying the gods) I bet Disney wouldn't even know where to start and how to sanatize the stories.