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Daily Archive for November 6th, 2013

'When the cat's away, the mice will play.'

While Nick was living it up in Sri Lanka I was having a good time too!

Zoe, the owner of Brunswick Travel and Tour offered me an amazing opportunity to run her travel agency for a month while she was on holiday. It was fantastic work experience and I enjoyed using my brain in a different way.

 
A cafe along the bike path on my way to work was offering free coffee and music for cyclists!
Paula and Charles were down from Townsville. Charles was working while Paul was on school holidays and in Melbourne on a junket! We went to the Comic's lounge with Amanda and Cally to see Corrine Grant and a great night was had by all.
On Grand final morning we headed out to the Yarra valley and found ourselves at the Chandon Winery……….as you do!
The wine tasters.

Despite not drinking a drop I had a great time.

Grand final afternoon was spent with the Keoghs. I was in the minority going for Freo. Paula and Charles were threatened with walking home if they did not go for them as well.

The fun continued on Nick's return with a girls night out to Babba with Wendy Karen. My wig showed a fringe on the packet but I was disappointed when I opened it and found it missing. (Hence the scarf and looking like I have a head injury!)
I think I have found my outfit for the next Babba evening. Check out those plastic raincoats and white boots!

I think I will have to let my cat go away more often!

 

After saying goodbye to everyone from the tour, it was time to hit the street and take a look around Colombo.

Is that penguin going to eat Jimmy?

First things first – we found ourselves some accommodation that was more central.

Is that a personal disco, time machine or shower? Complete with 4 different shower heads at different angles, radio, disco lights and even a phone – I want one of these showers at home!

What are they selling?

Of course – ice cream! What did you think they were selling?

We decided that we were in a new city and therefore it was time for some new clothes…

No Jimmy – the red is not your colour!

We finally settled on our clothes and prepared to go out for the evening (complete with our travel hats!)

At the sky bar again… Cheers!

That night, I was awoken by James screaming something at someone outside and telling him he couldn't sleep (insert expletives as required!) We then realised why the tv was so loud when we were shown the room – there was a building site behind the room going 24 hours a day. For some reason I had not heard it until James pointed it out. We changed rooms for the second night.

The view out the window.

 

The next day, we hit the museum, where Jimmy decided to display his cultural sensitivity and try out some ancient sanitation devices!

That night, it was chilli crab dinner for the last night.

Someone is excited about getting crabs!

For our last day, we decided to check out the market (before flying out that night).

On the way, the tuktuk broke down in the middle of one of the busiest roundabouts in Colombo. The guy told us he was out of fuel, grabbed a small one litre oil container and jumped out. Something told me with the almost automatic way he did this that it was not an unusual occurrence!

Hey presto – no driver!

It turned out the market was really busy.

 

Jimmy making friends at the market. You want avocados? Ai ai captain!

Disco lights shop.

Full of natural goodness. Really?

For our final challenge, we decided to help some of the vendors out at the market. The challenge was to get someone to come up and buy. (My favourite is the second guy – he gets right into it!)

 

Endless beaches, timeless ruins, welcoming people, oodles of elephants, killer surf, cheap prices, fun trains, famous tea, flavourful food – need I go on? – describe Sri Lanka.

– Lonely Planet Sri Lanka.

I couldn't agree more…

 

No that isn't some dodgy line I've picked up from somewhere, that was the first thing James said every morning before getting on his bike. And today, leaving Kandy, riding the bike was definitely not going to be a pleasure! For him at least. Today was what had been termed up until now 'the hill climb day' – about 80km in distance but climbing 1600m to the highest point on the island. I'd dipped out because I was worried about doing further damage to my already dodgy neck and opted for the scenic train journey (along with eight others from our tour). Part of me was disappointed not to be trying it but I loved train journeys and couldn't wait.

Here is something that was written on the top of the stem of my bike. Something to remember – especially for James on the hill climb!

James with the other hill climbers from our tour.

(Photo courtesy of Doug Thorpe)

 

Ah the look of accomplishment: James at the top. Well done Jimmy!

(Photo courtesy of Doug Thorpe)

Meanwhile, back on the train…

(photo courtesy of Gillian Pastuch)

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It was a stand up affair at the start and progressively most of us got seats. Mo found a seat next to someone who was catching flies!

The view from the train was just stunning

(photo courtesy of Gillian Pastuch)

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Arriving at the station, we had a three way tuktuk race to the hotel (no photos due to the fact I was holding on!)

At the hotel, they were stating the obvious…

We took a photo of the ladies…

Then someone suggested a wedding type photo with the roles reversed. I had no idea what they were talking about until…

The scenery was lovely the next day…

Ice cream anyone?

Jimmy finally got his wish to play cricket with the locals, not even stopping to take off his helmet!

One thing I love doing is to get out and look around the town where we are staying

These guys were waiting for the bus. After taking their photo, one of the young guys asked me to sit with them. It turns out the three of them were collecting donations to challenge a ruling by their university to suspend 67 students for protesting against a proposed change to free education.

Coming back, I found two monks walking along the road.

The next day, after a late night, we took photos at the lookout point before setting off.

The scenery on the way down…

Buddha Statues at Buduruvagala

In the afternoon, we went to Udawalawe National Park and were lucky enough to see a wild elephant giving itself a bath.

Breakfast the next morning was happy to see me!

One of the many tea stops along the way…

A chameleon in a bush at the hotel

I wondered how good the chameleon was with camouflage. So, always one to set a challenge, I decided to get him out of his tree and give him a test… As you can see, he didn't turn blue though!

That evening, we went to a temple for a ceremony. This was the fruit basket that was made as the offering.

While we were at the temple, James went on an adventure of his own. I'll let him tell it in his own words:

“I sure was templed out, so decided to go shopping for kids tshirts, my 3rd attempt at trying to find tshirts mind you.

Started walking, the wrong way to town, only to be approached by a student on a motorbike, he offered ride to town, but as I didn't have a helmet he was worried re police pulling us over so took the back roads, needless to say I got disorientated.

He was keen to practice his English & offered a tour of surrounds next day, so gave me his number, my saving grace!

Having lost track of time it was dark, I had started walking back along the wrong road, when I decided to catch a tuk tuk.

It was about this time I realised I didn't know the name of the hotel, well the tuk tuk driver didn't speak a word of English so started driving around to find someone that did.

We stopped at a bottle shop, I started draw a map of the area on the back of a coaster, which didn't seem to ring any bells with anyone, but got a few laughs.

I found the bike riders number in my pocket & asked the shop keeper to ring.

At this point I should have got on the phone, however they seemed to reach an understanding.

We headed off, big sigh of relief, as the english speaking shop owner came along.

Only to find the bike rider just guessed where I was staying & gave a hotel name on the other side of the lake.

So it was at this stage, I thought I better ring the bike rider myself & ask him to tell them to take me where he picked me up & bingo, home at last, 1 hr tuk tuk ride later

Another tea stop…
On the last day of riding, it was time for party hats as per the tradition of the tour!
Scenes from the last ride…
And another crazy photo to finish up!
Pole fishing is a tradition in some parts of Sri Lanka… And one we had to try albeit without the fishing rods!
There was dancing on the second last night…
And a visit to Galle the next day on the way back to Colombo.
On the last night, a few of us went out for drinks on a rooftop bar in Colombo.

And that concluded the tour part of the trip. Thank you to Intrepid Travel / Exodus and our 14 new friends for the great times we had. I would definitely recommend this 14 day cycling tour of the backroads of Sri Lanka.