06:02.06N 080:13.83E Galle Harbour, Sri Lanka Sunday 25 January AM
We had an all-day white-knuckle ride with driver Darsana up through the hill
country to Kandy and then in the evening went to a very kitsch Sri Lankan
dance show and then on to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. It's an
important and busy Buddhist site so we were not able to get very close to
the tooth itself. We had dinner with Americans Bill & Phyllis off 'Gaia',
who are parked alongside us in the harbour.
Kandy could be a very nice city. It is around a lake and is surrounded by
wooded hills and has a nice Spring climate but there is the usual Lankan
chaos all around. Few buildings look like they have ever been completed
properly and the roads are a nightmare.
Along the coast road there is still evidence of a lot of partially wrecked
property from the 2004 Tsunami but up in the hills I'm not sure what excuse
It is hard to describe the roads properly, partly because I had my eyes
closed most of the time and partly because there is so much going on that
defies explanation. The roads themselves are narrow and bumpy but it is the
variety of things using the road that is the real problem as everything
jostles for space each going at different speeds.
The slowest moving things are cows, feral dogs, children on bicycles, little
old ladies with parasols and sometimes elephants. The cows and old ladies go
wherever they please.
The next speed bracket includes pedestrians, cyclists and tractors. These
usually travel against the flow and seem to need no more than an inch or two
A faster group are tuk-tuks and motorbikes. They think they are the kings of
the road but everybody else thinks they're invisible.
The fastest stuff are cars and vans, trucks and buses and they differ only
in the size of the gap they can squeeze through at high speed. Double white
lines, blind corners and hills usually start a frenzy of overtaking and
horn-honking involving all the speed categories.
This morning, after a night in a hotel in Kandy, we went elephant-riding.
It's a painful process even without a bad back. Colin and I had big black
bristly beast each and a mahout to poke at it. Then on to the Elephant
Orphanage to feed the babies and wander down to the river with about 80 of
the big ones to have a swim and wallow.
Followed by another white-knuckle ride back to Galle.