Sri Lanka – Day 3 (Our first bus ride, a temple, shady restaurant, and a lovely evening)
You know find us on day three of sweltering humid heat. No, I am not complaining. At all. I swear. Well today we set off for Dambulla after a lovely breakfast at our favourite place. A Tuk Tuk ride that only broke the laws of physics/the road several times took us to the bus station, and knowing how hopeless we would have been, we asked Shehan to get the Tuk Tuk driver to show us the correct bus to Kurungewala, from which we would then get a bus to Dambulla. This was necessary, as if it were just me, getting lost is fine. Me and Glowa? Sure, it’d be an experience. But with Sabina… well we fear her, much like each one of us fears his mother. She doesn’t have a temper per se, but it’s easy to imagine her with a wooden spoon whooping our arse into gear. Now in Sri Lanka there are different types of buses apparently (from what I’ve read), and the red one (SLTB) are the everyday ones – they run on time, are slow, and stop everywhere…. then there’re the express ones that go a tad faster, have fewer stops, and can get you there a bit quicker for a bit more cash. Guess which one we got? That’s right, the Red One – 3 hours to drive 75 kilometres. Yeah – trust me, it was a loooong but interesting trip. It’s always quite informative to see how local public transport works… and here you could see some European mentality coming out. I wanted ot but the tickets before we got on, so I asked the bus driver, he pointed to the little man with the book, so I got off and asked me, he told me to go to the bus, I asked the bus driver again, he pointed to the man with the book, and so I went back to him… He proceeded to lightly nudge me onto the bus. I was a bit worried at this point that we would be swindled for not having tickets. However, it soon turned out that once we got moving, the little man with the book moved up and down the bus and got everyone tickets. Btw, for 90KLR (about ummm, USD 0.60), this was a very convenient price… though 3 hours of fearing for your life didn’t really help. But on the plus side, gave me time to practice my ukulele – which I plan to actually be able to do well after this trip! Sabina and Glowa may have been less thrilled, but it was great to see how things functioned. At the bigger bus depots men come on the bus peddling food and sometimes booklets of some sort, people come an go. It’s nice. Towards the end of the journey a man sat next to me, startling me out of my sleep, and we had a bit of a chat. Nice guy, and once we got to our stop in Kurungela he helped us find the bus to Dambulla (trust me, no easy feet… there’s a certain type of hecticness here… but we found the ‘express’ bus (they differ by the fact that they wait around to get as many people as possible, yet they still stop fairly often to pick people up). Nevertheless, the 65km journey (78 LKR – 0.50 USD) took another 2 hours…. but was even more terrifying than the previous 75 kilometres had actually been very calm. This guy was calamitous – often going the wrong way, overtaking on the wrong side etc., all just to get a little bit ahead and then…stop to let some people off.
We got to Dambulla somehow with relative ease (thankfully). And then, we made it to our gorgeous little hostel, by the name of Dambulla City Hostel – the lovely Vicky saw us in with the jack-of-all trades (insert name here), we settled in… and after a few hours (or rather minutes) Mr Glowa delegated our duties… by delegated I mean it was the kind of suggestion you don’t refuse – like you wouldn’t refuse Mussollini if he said he wanted your kidney. We went to see the Golden Temple, a short little walk away. I may be overusing this word, but Sri Lanka is in all sincerity gorgeous – just in a different way you could say. Visiting the temple from the outside is free (and we were very tired by this point… and I was hungry – Glowa and Sabina were starting to look like a rice and curry for LKR 290). A Tuk Tuk to town was in order to find a place called Mango Mango to grab a good eat (as Vicky had suggested). Now, the problem was that we knew it was somewhere on this street… and that it started with an M – so after we saw a bakery where you could buy an assortment of things (as suggested by the host), we backtracked to what I thought was the place – Mani-J (it started with an M right?). Well, once we entered this place, which was enourmously shady to say the least, we were greeted by a smell of cigarettes, devious looks, and that pleasant aroma of cheap liquor. I thought to myself that this must be one of those places that the ‘locals’ go to and has amazing food – oh how wrong I was. The food, though granted it was cheap, horrible. We ate quickly, avoided the gazes of the shady characters around the place and left with impetus. We walked around Dambulla for a bit, found the aformentioned great restaurant, and mossied on home.
When we got there, we found that we had acquired a few new residents (soon to become the Sigiriya troupe, later renamed the Kandy Squad and after a few substitutions and additions, the Adam’s Peak Compatriots). We spent that night exchanging stories with an Australian, American, Tanzanian and a few Brits, finally deciding that we all would set out for Sigiriya together in the morning. The hostel had this wall where you could make your mark (and so we did) and it turned out that Vicky wanted a uke lesson, which I kindly provided.
After an exhausting day, we finally laid our weary heads on our beds, covered ourselves in mosquito netting and dreamt strange things.
Till next time,