Day 20 – Colombo

28 Nov

I could tell you all about how very difficult, dangerous, and unpleasant it is to drive in Sri Lanka, where this is an unusually quiet moment on a major intercity highway:

and where even this counts as a major highway (photo taken shortly before nearly being killed by a bus, one of the ancient death-trap Tata buses with a colourful but long-faded paint job, a musical horn, black clouds of carcinogenic fumes, and a homicidal driver):

and where your sat nav thinks this will be a good idea, not realising that the road becomes so steep, rough, and narrow that you can not get through there in a very small car, never mind an SUV, leading to 90 minutes of an increasingly nerve-wracking stress test including a 27 point turn when you finally reach a place where to continue would require a machete and some sherpas:

or about the sense of relief when you return the hire car that is miraculously undamaged, followed by an even more stressful journey into the city in the back of a taxi, witnessing two more accidents along the way, and finally more relief in the form of afternoon tea in the executive lounge at the Hilton:

but instead of all that, here’s a picture of a monkey that looks like Donald Trump:

Trump Monkey getting angry at fake news:

Trump Monkey getting angry at crooked Hilary:

Trump Monkey saying up yours to the fake news media:

He wouldn’t be in a bad mood if he’d just discovered that rising bitcoin prices have paid for half of his holiday while he’s been away.

Day 19 – Sigiriya

27 Nov

The weather forecast is for a day of crap, so off early to the Lion Rock to be first in and beat the coach loads of Chinese tourists, even though it’s still shrouded in cloud.

Sod off, local people, your cultural heritage isn’t for you.

There’s only one other visitor this early.

Cloudy, but I’ve got the place to myself.

No waiting on the staircases, just a lot of climbing in really humid conditions. Soaked in sweat in the first minute, glasses and camera fogged up anyway even if there wasn’t mist all around.

Entering the Lion’s lair.

Turns out there are plenty of other visitors. Loads of wild dogs begging for food.

A spectacular view of the surrounding plains is hidden by cloud.

But yesterday’s Chinese tourists have left their mark. There’s really not much else worth seeing after all that climbing.

It clears a little, but not much. Stand 2 feet to the right or 20 feet to the left and the view is exactly the same, but the next person to arrive at the top decides to stand right behind me then ask me to move so she can take a picture. Seriously? Step to your right, the view is exactly the fucking same. You stood right behind me, of course I’m in your shot. There’s 100 square metres of top platform to choose from and you choose the one spot right behind the only other person here? You’re a fucking idiot…

As more people arrive, I learn that the first thing people do on reaching the top platform is stand with hands on hips.

It starts getting busier.

So I head down the still mostly empty upper staircases.

With a better view under the clouds, revealing the gardens below the precarious cliff-edge walkways.

And the approaching hoards of Chinese.

On the way out I’m really glad I came early and didn’t get stuck in the queues of slow climbers surrounded by the pestering hawkers selling “wooden box very cheap” and “nice elephant made by my family best price for you”. The dogs were bad enough, but the crowds, the tour groups, the sweltering humidity and suffocating heat even at 7am, topped off with the locals endlessly pestering people for money, would make it a very shitty experience if you don’t get an early start.