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AND HENRY THE TUK TUK HEADS NORTH

after a half hour lesson Lyn is ready to take on the manic drivers of Sri Lanka

Saturday 16th November 13 (day 77)

Rocky was on time delivering the tuk tuk, we were running late, amazing how much you can catch up on lost sleep.

Paperwork filled in we were advised we had to pay cash not credit card. Of course we did not have enough cash on us so gave what we had and said we would deliver the rest to Rocky's office after another visit to the ATM and before we fled town.

Our excess luggage was put in an unused room of the hotel - hopefully it will still be there when we return. We promised to spend the night here again before flying out, so fingers crossed.

And then we were off, as soon as we hit the street we were greeted with many double take looks. I guess no one is used to seeing a tourist drive and tuk tuk and especially not a woman to boot. They were at least all smiling and waving so it was not a negative reaction. A quick stop at the ATM and next door to purchase a road map and deliver the balance owing to Rocky. He gave us a very quick run down on places to visit and directions for the way out of town.

I thought Lyn was doing really well driving the tuk tuk but she did reveal later that she was a little apprehensive still. Sure did not show as she was driving along like a native, which mainly involved overuse of the horn to advise anyone or anything of your approach and that you were passing.

The roads here are pretty good and fairly well maintained, so I just sat in the back having a comfortable ride taking in the sights. Again I must say no rubbish along the roadside and no plastic bags anywhere in the fields. Interesting contrast to Morocco where we saw in every town and village and in most of the fields thousands of disregarded plastic bags. It was nice to see that here they are looking after and respecting the country a little better. We noticed also when entering towns there were signs reading 'keep our city clean' and 'thank you for keeping the city clean'. Good one Sri Lanka!

So we drove up the coast road to Chilaw, stopping at a local supermarket for a look around and perhaps to find some food to eat. Low and behold they sold Vegemite!! We had run out of Vegemite back in France and although it was a little overpriced we decided we deserved to shout ourselves a jar. Rs620 = $5.10 for a 220gr jar. Lyn also managed to get some Imodium tablets at the attached pharmacy Rs160 = $1.35 for 6 tablets.

Back on the road we had no real destination so just decided to drive until we found somewhere to stay the night. Not a great deal to see, lots of rice paddies, and the towns still resembled the towns in Thailand. The streets, roads and highways are lined with fruit stalls, seems like every house has a fruit and veggie stall outside. The streets, roads and highways are also lined with stray dogs. There must be a million of the scabby animals, laying or standing on or close to the road its a wonder they don't all get killed by the manic drivers.

Somewhere along the way we almost ran out of petrol and had to switch to the reserve tank to get us to the next filling station. No idea how much fuel was in tuk tuk when we collected it as it does not have a fuel gauge. I would guess it was not a full tank. With the help of a lovely lady sitting in the back of another tuk tuk, she directed us to a shop that sold fuel by the litre out of coke bottles and advised that would be enough to get us to the next station in the next town. Thank you very much for that random act of kindness!

Continuing north we reached Puttalam around 3pm and decided to look for a hotel to stay the night. It was a biggish town, but we did not have any luck in finding a hotel so continued on inland - east to Anuradhapura (yeah I know don't even try to pronounce that). This town was much bigger and with the aid of our very old lonely bastard mud map we managed to find the hotel street. I viewed and priced a few rooms and we actually settled on the most expensive one at Rs4000 = $33 (starting price was 5000). It was pretty flash, but just didn't want to face the other real budget/less comfortable places I viewed. And Lyn was still feeling crook so a nice place for the night was called for. Clean, fabulous hot shower and even a TV with English movie channel. Again lots of comments from the staff about driving our own tuk tuk.

After check in we walked down the street in search of some food. We had not eaten all day, except for a tea and coffee before leaving the hotel this morning and some lovely little lady finger bananas we had purchased roadside. Lyn was still not hungry at all and I could not get excited about any food that we had seen during the day. It seems to be the practice here to cook everything at the beginning of the week or month? and then serve it semi warmish from a hot box. And by a hot box I mean a glass enclosure that has a light bulb on inside keeping the food warm?? All very unappealing and I think not a healthy option for a unaccustomed stomach. So I guess this has killed my appetite a little also.

We had a wander around the Main Street, found a supermarket to meander through and walked back to the hotel in the dark. As luck would have it the guesthouse next to ours had a Chinese takeaway and when I saw that the food was cooked to order my stomach suddenly advised that it was hungry and that this would be suitable. While I ordered and waited for a chicken noodle dish, Lyn returned to the hotel for more pressing matters - she did not eat.

The noodles were good and with hunger satisfied I spent the rest of the night watching movies on the TV.

Lyn was asleep by 7.30 - hope she is feeling better tomorrow.

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 04:09 Archived in Sri Lanka

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