The three weeks my friend and I spent in Sri Lanka were peaceful for the most but peppered with some crazy experiences. The country is so tiny that we did a lot of inter city travels in colourful tuk tuks. They were cheap, quick and gave us an amazing local experience! Here are some other nutty things we did in Sri Lanka.
Stick Fishing in the rough waters of Koggala
We were at a shop looking at a stick fishing postcard when we met Sachie a doped out tuk tuk driver. He was pretty dedicated to the cause, with ‘legalize marijuana’ art work inside his tuk tuk. He was an absolute sweetheart and sucked at bargaining. He started at 1500 Sri Lankan rupees to take us to Koggala and before we could even respond “1200 you give. Sachie ready,” he quipped. The stick fishermen weren’t as easily convinced as Sachie. They kept asking for ridiculous amounts just to take a picture of them and additional if we wanted our photos taken. Finally we agreed to a price and I attempted to get on to the stick. In all my excitement, I had fun sitting on it but I am pretty sure that I would have had serious bouts of butt ache if I sat on it for hours waiting for fish to come by. Of course I failed to catch any but at least it made for a good photo!
Midnight adventures for the best kotthu there is!
Since we arrived in Sri Lanka all we had seen was rice and curry. Every single restaurant would have a buffet with exactly the same curries. We so desperately wanted variety that in the middle of the night on my friend Oviya’s birthday, we embarked on a mission to find the best kotthu (chopped up bread and beef) in all of Sri Lanka with some locals. They took us to this place called the ‘Night Shop’ on the outskirts of Ella. We placed our orders and asked them to make the kotthu extra extra spicy. We had prepared ourselves to be disappointed. The kotthu was brought in, piping hot and we could see the red chilli garnish on it. We took a deep breath, soaking in all the kotthuness, and dug in. And was it good!! It was very flavourful, spicy and a much needed change from the rice and curry! A successful midnight adventure in all.
A cold shower in the Queen’s Bath
Polonnaruwa has gorgeous stone Buddha statues and ancient ruins of one of the biggest kingdoms that ruled Sri Lanka. We had barely begun exploring when it started pouring like mad! We were a little skeptical but we continued anyway. The Queen’s Bath was one of the major attractions there. Shaped like a lotus, it was beautifully constructed, brimming with water and ever so inviting. Thankfully because of the rain there were no guards around to stop us. So we jumped right in. We sat there for almost an hour drenched to the bones splashing around in the water like little kids, having the time of our lives!
How I became Mr. Bigfoot
I had a nasty fall in Yala while riding a cycle. I had barely gotten out of the hostel and up the slope at the entrance to reach the main road when the brakes gave way and I came crashing down the slope. I fell with my entire body weight on my right ankle and my head hit a pillar. The hostel manager came rushing but instead of helping me up he went to straight to the cycle to test the brakes. “Brakes are fine'” he said confidently completely ignoring my squeals of pain. All the hospitals and pharmacies in the area were closed cause of the full moon Buddhist rituals. Luckily this very sweet Safari guide Thushara took me to an obscure pharmacy to get a pain relieving balm and then to this gorgeous sunset point which definitely helped me more than the balm!
The real adventure however began the next day when the pain had become much worse and my ankle had swollen twice the size. The ever so kind manager had refused to give me a room on the ground floor so I had been huddling over to the first floor to get to my dorm bed. The bathroom riddled with lizards was on the other end of the room and the only way I could bathe was to not wear my lenses and convince myself that if I couldn’t see them, they weren’t there. We headed out to the safari at teh Yala National Park where we saw 5 peacocks, 1 monitor lizard, a lone elephant far far away, a crocodile who looked like he hadn’t moved in years and several jeeps filled with Japanese tourists. We slept through most of the safari. So as my friend put it, “The safari was really a very expensive nap.”
All this while I had been whimpering in pain every time the jeep rattled on the mud roads. Thushara took pity on me. He told us about this Ayurveda doctor somewhere in a far away village who could help me out. He seemed very confident about him and I was in too much pain to argue. So we set out on yet another tuk tuk ride to the village doctor. The pain had me delirious and I had visions of this witchdoctor bashing me up with a broom to expel evil spirits. Instead we met this kind old man who gave me some homemade medicine, massaged my leg and refused to accept any money in return. I wouldn’t say that the pain miraculously went away but the swelling reduced to half by the next day. Even though I had to sit tight for the next 3 days I have absolutely no regrets about the ankle sprain. This stuff is what adventures are made of!
Bunkin’ in barrels
We came across this really exciting hostel in Kandy where you could stay in barrels or capsules. They were basically sewer pipes that had been cleaned out and a bed and a fan had been fixed in. I am usually very claustrophobic and looking at the pictures of the barrels online had me gasping for breath. But surprisingly I was quite comfortable in them. The fan had the air circulating and the bed was very cozy. Here is us monkeying around in the barrels.