Sri Lanka has two main seasons; the south west monsoon between May and November, and the North East between December and March. This means that you can always find somewhere with decent weather no matter the time of year. Bearing this in mind we still decided headed to Uppuvelli, just north of Trincomalee on the east coast. It was off season so a lot of restaurants and hotels weren’t yet open and the sea was too rough for anything more than a quick paddle. We were fortunate with the weather though and only really experienced one evening of very torrential rain. Looking out of the window it looked like a hurricane report from the BBC, it was pouring heavily with rain and palm trees were barely holding up against the wind.
We planned to chill here for a few days doing nothing more than catching some rays and relaxing. We set off just before sunrise on our first morning for a run along the beach. We haven’t really done much running since we’ve been away due to a lack of pavements and the packs of dogs which roam the streets. We’ve stuck to beaches to avoid these dogs so it was typical that morning to run into a particularly playful, boisterous dog. He kept jumping up at us and Joey was kind / brave enough to let me run on whilst he tried to distract said playful pup. Unfortunately the doggy got a little bit too excited and ended up scratching Joey. So off we headed to hospital to get a rabies jab! We were sensible and we did get all our jabs before we went away, but the rabies jab just buys you a little more time and means you only need a few post exposure jabs.
We arrived at the hospital and joined the very efficient queue. This queue was made up of rows of chairs with everyone moving one chair along as the queue moves. After a very short wait Joey got pulled out of the queue by the security guard who asked him for his passport and then quickly returned with a queue jumping number. She then ushered him to the doctors room for assessment. The doctor ummed and ahhed a bit then wrote out a card with his jab schedule on it and sent us to the drug store with a nurse. We got the price, then were accommpanied to accounts to pay and finally to the injection room. All in all it took less than hour. Two things really stood out for me and they were that white privilege is real. The amount of queue jumping that we did was insane and embarrassing and then there was the lack of patient confidentiality. People were being consulted in the same room as Joey and I was pulling faces at an old man whilst he was being injected. Not to mention everyone peeking round the curtain to get a glimpse of the white people!
The only other thing of note we did in Trincomalee was to visit their War Cemetery. It’s maintained on behalf of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and is a beautiful peaceful place to visit. The gravestones are all equal shape and size and separated by bushes.
After our chill time we headed north to Jaffna. Jaffna was out of bounds thanks to the civil war until little over 10 years ago and even Sri Lankan’s we have met along the way say they have never been. It was certainly different to the rest of the country – grittier and definitely more like India! Even the bus ride there involved an army roadblock. Everyone piled off the bus, we were told to stay in our seats whilst everyone else had ID and luggage checked. A soldier boarded our bus, searched it and checked our passports and before we knew it we were on our way again.
We started our city explorations at the Fort which we had pretty much to ourselves. The fort is a few centuries old and is Portuguese/Dutch origin. The literature we were given was poorly translated and wasn’t really clear on a lot of things but still better than my Tamil and Sinhalese. Then we wandered to the Clock Tower and the library. The library was destroyed in the 1980s by (some say pro government) forces but was the first thing to be rebuilt when the war ended. We took a stroll to the railway station and booked ourselves on the express train out of Jaffna the next morning to Colombo where we’d then head north to Negombo, a beach resort.
The train took 7 and half hours, far and away the longest journey we’ve had in Sri Lanka, but a blink of an eye compared to some Indian journeys. Everyone started to gather their belongings up and I took a quick glance at google maps, we were definitely almost at Colombo Fort station. So we piled out the train with everyone else. I pulled my phone out again and started looking at where we needed to go to catch our bus and it looked a bit more complicated than when I’d previously looked. I took a moment to glance at my surroundings and realised that we’d got off the train a stop too early. For a brief moment I considered not telling Joey and seeing if he’d notice the extra long walk to the bus station. Maybe I could just style this mistake out? I’d had almost 40 years of styling out my mistakes, I’m sure I could do something with this. Maybe if I said it really quickly Joey wouldn’t notice?! In the end I did confess and suggested that as it was really hot maybe we should just take a tuk tuk to the bus station? Thankfully he agreed and we didn’t get divorced. Mistake styled out.
We had a nice couple of chilled days in Negombo lying on the beach and playing in the sea. We also needed to get Joey’s third rabies jab done. Only two more to go!
We have spent the last 4 days at a yoga retreat just outside of Kandy. We thought we were signing up 4 days of being told what to do which to be honest, sounded bliss. We quite liked the idea of all decisions being taken out of our hands. We had to let the staff know an hour ahead of time when we wanted to take a shower so they could light a fire to heat the water. We thought they were joking until we actually saw the barrel of water being heated by a fire. Yoga itself is definitely harder than it looks. I’m not flexible at all and with all my joint problems I really struggled, maybe it gets easier the more you practice!
We did enjoy a cooking class and got to enjoy the fruits of a labour as well as a trek to a waterfall. We all had to participate in the cooking class, I got to play with grinding a coconut. Joey thought he had the easy job of deep frying the aubergine but he had to stand over the hot fryer for about an hour! At the waterfall there is a natural pool which is full of the fish that nibble your feet. So whilst everyone else was swimming I got to have a free pedicure! It is a very strange sensation as the fish latch onto you and I really can’t believe people pay for the privilege.
It’s hard to believe our two months here have now ended and tomorrow it’s back to India! The intention is to only spend a maximum of three weeks there. We know what we want to see so it will be a couple of weeks of focus and bashing out the sights!