To Ella, Sri Lanka
Dileep picked us up from our digs at ten thirty. The price difference between a car with driver compared to three tuktuks, two buses and getting lost was not enough to blink at, off we went, stopping first at a chemist for me to gather cough mixture, Strepsils and some little tablets suggested by the very dodgy-looking pharmacist. That done we passed Galle Services Club, The clock tower – coaches everywhere suggested another cricket match day as did the banners on the roundabout.
Buddha waved us off, we passed a big mosque and by eleven o’clock we were on a good, straight dual carriageway. That didn’t last for too long but we laughed at the danger signs warning us of...........peacocks..........
Dileep is a very careful, steady driver which is lovely until we discover his habit of almost stalling in fourth before changing down. At least he is calm, uses his horn seldomly and doesn’t try to overtake on blind corners. His habit of changing down did mean every nut and bolt shook as we slowly passed things and on steep bits even tuktuks, heavy trucks and fully laden buses would go roaring past...... Back to the scenery – one minute paddy fields, the next villages and I’m so pleased Bear missed the actual tuktuk shop or I’m certain we would have been choosing our colour and seat covering.......
One of my favourite pictures was ‘just how many different pieces of traffic is there’.
Back to the countryside.
We have now seen loads but love the elephant walls.
It is really getting dark (rain coming, dark clouds). Enjoyed watching this chap land.
Bear paying for our lunch. At a quarter to two Dileep stops at this little eatery and Bear chooses rice, curry, stuff. I stick just a tiny bit of my small digit in and WOW I wanted to call the fire brigade. I rummage around and find a soggy chocolate ice cream and a bottle of pretend coke. After Dileep said he couldn’t eat his chicken drumstick “because it was too hot” – what chance did I really have then......
Off we went again and to our right a massive National Park.
Udawalawa Reservoir, then some wetlands. It’s now I look at the map.
I had thought we would follow the main road along the coast and straight up. No, we went so far off piste in a straight as Dileep-could-manage line that we actually ended up on unsealed roads to which he shrugged and said he had gone wrong. Really...... I asked, purely out of interest why we had gone the way we had “much shorter distance and quicker”. Mmmm six and a quarter hours verses four hours fifty. Mmmm. But it was a pleasant enough journey and very safe.
The compensation was seeing our first wild elephant behind an electric fence in Udawalawa National Park.
By the time Bear got into pose he bimbled off. We saw another two singletons along the way.
The horizon now begins to have hills and mountains.
The next town gave us advertising – beauty Sri Lankan style.
The road winds across the far valley.
We stop at a waterfall, I take a little chap and also Dileep and his trusty steed.
Approaching Ravana Waterfall, a popular place for a dip.
The road climbs steadily and we see the first of Ella’s hotels.
Very steep topography.
Just as we reach the little tourist town of Ella.
At five o’clock Dileep dropped us at the bottom of an incredibly steep lane, looking too frightened to take it on, I suggested we walk the last bit, Dileep looked relieved. Up and around a sharp bend, we looked up at two signs one of which had our digs name. Bear went up as forward party. Rain hammering down. Growling. In the picture he is tottering on a step set at quite an upward angle. We thought they knew steep in Grenada but here.......better to be born with cloven hoofs methinks.
Safely settled with a lovely grandmotherly sort, Beds scooted to bed, Bear sat outside our room with a welcome cup of tea and I caught up with lunch – a trusty tin of tuna.
Looking from the balcony at our first tea bushes...........
............and as if on queue, a train comes through.
Later, we left our digs and bimbled down the main road full of small eateries, veg stalls and tourist clothing shops.
We settled in a little Indian restaurant and sat on the balcony. I was promised chicken and rice, plain, very plain but it still made my eyes a bit moist..... Bear had chicken curry and so many dishes appeared – some more than a bit dangerous...... Bear's feast was £3.58 and my treat later, was 42p........
ALL IN ALL SUCH CHANGING SCENERY
A VERY DIFFERENT PART OF SRI LANKA