Day 18 – Sigiriya

26 Nov

When my motorcycle rental fell through before I even got to Sri Lanka, I wasn’t bothered because I’d seen the weather forecast. It’s been even worse than forecast with heavy rain for most of each day and ceaseless rain for the past two. My backup hire car got upgraded 4 groups to a nice big automatic 4×4, the roads have been really shit, and the people on those roads behave like they have no brain, so no loss.

Today, despite the rain, I found some good roads coming down out of the hill country and started wishing for a bike. I even found a rare opportunity to stop for a photo without being run over. There’s a train going by up in the hills behind the mist.

There are plenty of people out in the rain on their shitty bikes and scooters to show me the right way to travel. I pretty quickly lose the desire for a bike of my own though when the next one comes round the corner on his scooter holding an umbrella and the one after him is riding along emptying half a pint of water out of his shoe…

Notice that they have no idea what line to take through a bend. Given the evidence so far, it’s safe to assume they are in fact clueless, but if you’re really generous you might allow them credit for knowing that on any bend there’s most likely going to be one of these in the middle of the road going like hell:

In any 100m of Sri Lankan road you will encounter:

Someone on the wrong side of the road, a dog sleeping in the road, a puppy walking in the road, 3 scooters doing 5, 30, and 130mph, an unaccompanied 3 year old child, a man aged at least 140 standing in the middle of the road barefoot wearing what looks like a nappy, a bus driven by a psychotic lunatic and on which the only maintenance performed is to keep the horn working, a lorry that never even had brakes, a cyclist carrying a ton of wood, and an assortment of the most mechanically dangerous bikes, trucks, and tri-shaws you will ever see.

Every so often you might also encounter a man in the middle of the road shooting monkeys out of a tree with a catapult. True story.

The stupidity and total incompetence of the drivers is beyond belief. Ive already seen 2 horrible accidents and 3 minor ones, and by seen I mean watched happen right in front of me, usually shortly after thinking “no, dont do that you stupid f… oh fuck…” and then steering around the debris and body parts…

Bike? No thanks, not today. On to Pollonaruwa, more ancient temples. I’m all templed out, thanks anyway, and it’s belting down so hard that 30 seconds out of the car leaves you soaked and your camera lens fogged.

Thankfully you can drive right through the middle of some of the temples. Conservation, anyone?

And no, I don’t want a guide, thanks. No, I don’t care if you’re cheap. No, I dont believe you’re a very special official guide for this temple. No, I’m certain you can’t show me a good time, do you even know what youre saying? No, I DON’T WANT A FUCKING GUIDE!

At least the hotel is good, with a view of Sigiriya rock at the end of the pool, spoiled only by the power line:

You can try to get artsy and blur it out:

But it doesn’t really work. Best to just sit and look at it and make your own sunset with a cocktail while the rain keeps pouring.

And later you can try some of the delicious local cuisine