Astra Blog Langkawi to Cochin, India January - Feb 16th 2010
Thankyou to everyone who gave us a great time at Xmas and New Year, we really enjoyed ourselves, and made going back to the boat easier knowing that we have "you all" still back home for when we finish.
On returning to Langkawi we found Astra safe and sound, though unfortunately the freezer had stopped and all our meat had gone to soup, yuk. Anyway it was probably a good thing as we needed the weight off the boat for the racing. Not that we took anything off to help poor old Astra, but you know Jeremy. We were put in the Cruising class, and had for us quite a good handicap. We had a bit of a mixed crew. Typically us we picked up David in a restaurant who was a volunteer, even though he could not sail, he looked like he could winch, so we invited him on. Annabel and her new boyfriend Gary turned up from Australia, and were invaluable. But the star performer was Tim from Raven. Calm, competant and a real sea dog.
Suffice to say we won all our races and took line honours as well. Everyone was very taken with Astra, and we met some fantastic people namely the bunch from Rascal and Rapscallion, who gave us the biggest cheer award. I think it helped that we had got them totally pissed before the award ceremony.
A great time was had and luckily Sally had a few days to recover to prepare for the trip to Sri Lanka.
Unfortunately we had so little wind we motored quite a way and were pretty much on fumes when we got there, and we nearly ran out of ice! After the usual form filling we checked in and went exploring. We were based in Galle on the South coast. It was hit quite badly by the Tsunami, and slowly recovering, though they said the aid sent went to the wrong people, which we could understand after meeting a few of the said officials.
The first few days we stayed around Galle, exploring the walled town within the fort and the beach along the coast. Both beautiful and better than expected. The "international" cricket ground was quite interesting, and even Jeremy commented he could score a six on it, but the locals were so proud of it, it was unwise to mock it.
We decided to go on a tour to the North of the island and set off with a hired car with driver. What we had not appreciated was the driver makes commission on everything, from the shops we go in to the hotels and restaurants he chooses we go to. Well we would not mind but his choice were not ours and after 2 days of this we parted company rather acrimonously and had a much better time. We visited Ella, where we caught a train to Kandy. On up to Dambulla and Sigyriya, and then back to Galle. The scenery and temples were beautiful. The driving though was terrifying. The buses were lethal (the drivers are on commission so they race each other to collect the most passengers!?) and we saw some horrendous accidents, after a few hours we threw all road safety out of the window and followed suit. Terrible.
When we returned the car we were told Jeremy had put the driver in hospital, and the police were going to put Jeremy in jail. Of course this was a scam and we had to pay them off. Whatever you do if you ever go to Sri Lanka, don't get stuck with one Tuk Tuk driver, and be as independant as possible.
To be honest this rather spoilt our visit, which was a shame as the country has a lot to offer.
We had a much better sail to Cochin than anticipated and even had to put a reef in the sails. Micca was a bit shocked we only put one in, but said it was the best sail she had in years. Though the music and swearing on Channel 16 got VERY annoying.
India was everything Sally thought it would be, smelly, vibrant, noisy, dirty and as the Indians say " God's own country " The checking in process was typically colonial British, not a computer in sight, and took forever, with a lot of head wobbling and gesticulation.
Cochin to Salalah
Ok Sally didn't get off, but is not happy.