It’s impossible for me to write my blogs regularly these days. I am sure things will change, but you have to bear with my current situation. Too many things to do, and write, especially. Be patient, one day I will find the recipe for a balanced life of writing, earning the buck, and great world travel. Meanwhile, I just do the best I can not to let the best independent (and motherfuckin’) opinion on life in Asia to vanish in the internet limbo of neglected sites. By the way, let’s go back to Sri Lanka, that lovely tear-shaped island crying out from the bottom of India. My only regret was having visited in the midst of the Holiday Season, when prices and tourists soar higher, and higher, and higher. But besides having to shell out a minimum of 10 dollars a night for a double room with beds mostly stinking like death put his head on the pillow and exhaled her last breath just there, it was a good trip. The island is small and compact, getting anywhere takes time, but the buses are very cheap, overcrowded and fun. I criss-crossed the place: if I had had an extra week, I would have made it up to Jaffna. It will be for the next time. First of all, the feeling: this place doesn’t feel like India. It is bustling, but more controlled. The people are nice and talkative, but they do not ask the same sate of bio data every tenth second. The place is definitely South Asia, but it mostly smells nicer. This said, I also found that the level of poverty is not as bad as what I saw in India just 6 months before. And compared to Malaysia, it looks like Sri Lanka has everything except for the infrastructures, the skyscrapers and the wi-fi everywhere. This might be considered as a good asset, for me. But let’s break the highlights of the journey down into a series of dedicated posts.
The best part of Sri Lanka, to me, it’s not the beaches. These are quite ok, but being the Indian ocean, swimming is quite rough. If you like to be bounced up and down and hit against the bottom of the sea by titanic waves tough, Sri lanka might be the place for you. To me, the best is found in the Hill Country. This central part of the island, green, lush, verdant, completely covered in tea carpets and estates which look like they come out from a 1800′s British setting, is truly inspiring. Kandy, second biggest city and gateway to the region, was an ok introduction. A bit too many touts tough. And it was funny to find most of them in the local bar, that same night. Whenever they asked me for a drink, they seemed to have already forgotten that they stopped me on the street 5 times during the day. “Do you want to check the tradtional dance show? It is on only today, special day of the year!”.
Bullshit. There is such a show every damn day of the year, so you’ve been warned. And if the guy starts following you around for kilometers, just pretend you are deaf, dumb and blind. These Kandyan touts are particularly persistent, I dare to say. And quite strung out as well, since they would easily forget about having harassed you in minutes, and would definitely end up walking at your side more than twice while you stroll along the same 500 meters on the same bloody sidewalk. Besides this, Kandy is nice, with an inspiring central lake, and rolling verdant hills all around. Stay in the forest, if possible, to guarantee yourself the best views over the neighboring valleys.
The best part of this trip is to take a slow train from Kandy or a few other stops on the route (Nuwara Elliya, Ella, Haputale to name a few) and venture deep into the realms of tea, mist and cold. Yep, Sri Lanka can be cold around these latitudes, so be prepared to take out your sweater. I surely did, and cursed my once European blood, now reduced to a thick layer of tropical eased red magma. Gimme less then 20 degrees celsius, and I’ll start screaming for help. Ella, that sweet spot stuck in the hillsides and graced by the beautiful Litte Adam’s Peak was definitely a highlight. Kicked back, touristy (oh yes) but definitely too laid back to be destroyed, Ella gave us a glimpse into Sri Lankan rural village life when we met a couple folks looking for a missed cow and we ended up parting in their little house. Here I met Number One, forever-smiling patriarch of a gracious family of many children and girls so stunningly beautiful and with such incredibly withe smiles I had a problem in getting off their sofa. Number One was very small, and always smiling to me. Whatever I told him, he was always smiling and nodding with his whole earth sunk into his firm handshake. They loved us, and we loved them.
In Ella, I also learned that missing cows can get lost because they are able to climb staircases and like to graze the weeds along the paths to sacred mountains and temples. Or maybe just enjoy to see the rocking views. In Ella, I also proved that being a foreigner in Sri Lanka can raise the price of a kottu rotti (amazing blend of spices and roasted bread, chopped up to pieces and served hot and spicy) to twice its original value only because your face is pale. Or Chinese, for all that matters. But what can we do, in this crazy, pretentious, unsettling tourist world? Probably just sob down, and empty the wallets. Or not complain because the triple room we paid 1000 rupees per night was priced 3000 to my friend’s Chilean family two nights later. The unsettling drawbacks of travelling can definitely create puzzling questions… like this high, on flowers, and memorial fire, I’m on at the moment.