The buses in Sri Lanka are not like at home.
Up until now we have been getting about by train and Tuk-Tuk. However the rail network stretches across a very limited part of the country and if you want to get from the hills down to the coast on the south of the island you either take a car (expensive) or take the bus.
We opted for the bus.
They are cheap and and there are loads of them but what is particularly surprising is they seem to have been designed by a 17 year old Sri Lankan ‘Boy Racer’. There are a number of unlikely similarities with a Subaru Impreza tearing up the streets of Croydon.
The sound system for one is banging. I mean really banging. There are 4 massive Bose speakers installed alongside each luggage rack that runs the length of the bus. Sod anyone with a rucksack as long as we have some tunes. They have notched this up a level again with TV screens at the front of the bus showing classic festival sets from Sri Lanka’s biggest rock bands (this is an assumption on my part).
Now for the lights, big f*$k off neon ones at the front of the bus, surrounding the customary ‘disco buddha’ which sits pride of place next to the driver: a modification bespoke to Sri Lanka surely.
Finally, the drivers are out of their minds. 5 minutes into the journey we were held up by the bus in front crashing into a van. And 30 minutes later we got pulled over by the police for recklessly overtaking. Classic Boy Racer.
The good news was that we did make it to our destination alive. And that was Tangalle. Not much to say about that to be honest. It’s a nice small beach town with the main highlight seeing this bad boy taking an afternoon stroll.
Our hotel, Nuga Eden, was small clean and near the beach. And it had a pool which was necessary as the sea is mental and rubbish to swim in. We got chatting to a couple of the other guests who were going on safari the next morning.
They were going to Udawalawe National park which has the largest population of elephants in Sri Lanka. Now, without wanting to sound like a safari snob we had thought about and decided not to do a safari. Our reasoning was, “well it ain’t going to be Kenya is it?” and let’s be frank, once you’ve seen one elephant you’ve seen them all*.
But, it kind of fell into our laps, so we saw no reason not to go. And to be fair, it was a great morning safari. Yes we saw elephants (and it is true, once you’ve seen one they are all pretty similar) but we also saw a crocodile catching a fish, a magnificent eagle doing likewise as well as numerous birds we didn’t know the names of, buffalo, iguanas, peacocks and parakeets (just like being back in Ealing).
The elephants even seemed to give me the proverbial two-fingers to my rather dismissive perception of their species by taking a massive shit right in front of me and in perfect timing for that perfect Instagram moment.
And to be honest, we were wrong. The elephants were well alright, and OK they may not be lions but they were equally spectacular to see in the natural habitat.
So it was a good couple of days and an amazing safari before we moved onto Mirissa and then Unawatuna. I am not going to lie, we did very little of interest here and I am not going to bother boring you with any details. It was alright.
So instead, here’s a couple of photos.