A fantastic journey, one of a kind, hitting that coastal road all the way to Yela N.P and around it to Aragum. Unfortunately, the place is catering the tourism of old fatties, who want to jump in a Jeep and go look at wildlife in a park with bottled water (I mean who doesn’t) but, they pay for it and therefore, everyone else has to pay too.
Your not going to see tigers so why take a safari (like you were in east Africa) for something like 100 bucks with the Jeep and guide? Some people will pay for anything; and all the national parks are the same on this island of tourism.
Everything that is an attraction is out of reach for a low-budget traveler (in my opinion). And the cost of living, if you are not with another, sharing everything, and if you’re not eating locally, is also quite high.
At the end of the day, its not as exciting as hoping from one island to the next in S.E.A, and there will be few chances to celebrate anything. But, it’s a calm, tranquil, lovely and humbling assortment of experiences. The bike will give you the freedom to go wherever you please and feel the air in your face and smell the countryside, and taste the fresh fruit along the way. That is not at all bad. And if you surf, you’ll be plenty satisfied. Furthermore, if you don’t surf, you should definitely stop here to try it out first, before anywhere else. For it’s much cheaper than arriving to have surf lessons in Australia.
Buddhist temples built on rock formations, high enough to watch the sun go down. Once upon a time, the thousands that made the pilgrimage to Sri Lanka, left India with Buddha in their hearts. And everywhere you go, you can feel this underlying softness (beyond the struggles that have been faced), this simplicity and outside of the over-developed seaside of the coasts (cluttered with broken buildings from the Tsunami), there is a timeless connection with nature, still (especially in the north).
Rain or shine, we hit the road between towns, and with the help of some garbage bags we could stay dry enough. Hard rain pelted my face, as we pushed to Yela, from Tangalle; I wiped rain from my face with Lisa on the back, holding on and covering herself behind me -her other rain jacket.
Lisa and I had been travelling together in Indonesia a while, and decided to take it to the next level, meet in K.L and fly together to Sri Lanka (80 bucks Air Asia).
The first days were a bit strange, being apart for two months; it was like getting re-acquainted, and the romance and nostalgic memories of Lombok were what we tried to unveil. But this was not Indonesia and our hearts, longing for a huge, empty and beautiful coast of white beach and high cliffs was never going to be fulfilled.Still, after getting over ourselves, we managed to turn over a couple of beautiful coves. The first in Tangalle. Though before that, we stopped in many spots that, during the swell season, likely would have been extraordinary, considering the friction in timing, everything was quite bland, but for this place.
A very long, empty, tucked in little set of small bungalows, I could have stayed for months. Later on we would experience the same in Gokarna (Om Beach), only there, we wouldn’t be alone. And there we could swim as much as we pleased. The current here, because of the tidal confusion underwater, made swimming quite dangerous this time of year (for us who are not Olympians).
I wanted to write and chill and love her at night, and in the afternoon, and in the sea, and on the beach. She wanted to keep moving. That’s how I saw it -and I couldn’t blame her.
When we’d first arrived, I got a taste of the corrupted form of even Buddhism, in our global world. Three lads in a bit of bushes sort of hiding, away from the beach. We’d walked by, looking for a place to stay the night on this long stretch of lovely hideaway sand, and noticed them.
They had a mickey of whiskey they were sipping at while hiding away from their headmaster. I’m not sure where their temple was, but they certainly were trying to escape for a moment at least. We laughed together and I shared a little bit of their sauce. I insisted that I didn’t want to support their rebellion (as they asked us for money -good for a laugh as well), but then realised how stupid that was and what I was doing in fact with my life. There was no judgement in me for these young men -nothing of the sort- this was simply a human reaction against control -and towards curiosity- as far as I can see it.
We stood on the edge of the beach and they came halfway up my torso and were pretty drunk and flirting with Lisa -a gorgeous, foreign woman. Couldn’t help but take in the obscene and obscure of it all.
Shortly before Yela, about one day before, we came across a small family that invited us into their home. Their place had been destroyed by the Tsunami, and they were sort of re-building. They were not young, but they were not beaten either. Their dog caught a rabbit and brought it in for us to ‘eat’. We had to keep moving, but I reflect on that now, and its a real shame we didn’t. That rabbit must have been incredible!
That food might have fed them for a couple days, but I don’t think they minded at all either way. We saw their offers, their rice and curry, as taking from those in need, very poor, and doing only because they felt they had to. I often felt bad about taking when I had so much opportunity in my life. But they wanted to, from their hearts and homes to us, on the road and with little, in fact, ourselves.
Away from our families, away from our homes, you could say we had little comparatively. Though in those days I was very happy with Lisa and felt that I was a little bit at home with her; so those were great days as well.
‘Oh! Hello! What’s your name?’ That’s how we got introduced, like usual. We stepped into this woman’s simple home, and it was like she was expecting us, with Ceylon ready.
Soon after her husband showed up, and they brought out their grand-child. It was about fifteen minutes later that the dog arrived with ‘dinner’. This family insisted we stay, but like most times I spent with Lisa, we were always in a hurry to go, to keep moving, and to seek out more. I look back on that, and it suggests many things. But I was just excited and full of anticipation for what was on the next horizon. We had been doing so well, turning over rocks in good humour, I just wanted it to keep going more and more -addicted.
After we hit the last leg to Yela, time was actually catching up with us as well. We’d mistakenly rented the bike for a week (big mistake) and though had a phone number couldn’t reach the guy (of course).
*Recommendation! Rent the bike for the whole month! Do yourself a favour and give yourself the freedom!
Between the traditional fishermen, and the odd guesthouse trying to squeeze us for being tourists, it had me a bit disheartened but overall, with a bit of tenacity, we got quite a load of warmth and connection to the scene without feeling too much like swanky, rich, over-indulgent western tourists (which we are far from).
Yela N.P. was the most disheartening though; a huge set of parks and forest areas, with a beautiful open range of wild, on an island of coastal progression.
When we arrived and were refused entry on our bike; we were disgruntled to say the least -but had been warned already, locally. Told about the fee for a guide and jeep, and then forced to turn around, it hurt, but we figured to make the best out of it all getting as close as we could (hoping the guards wouldn’t notice us).
We spent time with the monkeys, and from a gorgeous, overhead view, at least saw a good amount of the uncorrupted (by buildings anyhow) area. As the night approached, we pushed to reach the highest point we could for sunset, then had to find our way through a maze of dirt roads, out of the area, back on the main coastal road and back to our simple little guesthouse from the day before.
‘Let me guide you to the turtles!’ Like you couldn’t walk fifteen minutes maximum, on a bit of beach, and find a set of turtles birthing. But that’s rich, old people for you; they’ll pay for anything!
Load up and taste the fruit of life; there will be set backs, lost loves and expectations missed, but there is, as well, a door that opens for every doors that closes.