Lady Pudding was duly deposited by tuk tuk at Colombo International Airport, following a night at Gomez Place near Negombo Beach. Funny why there were no other women in that hotel and we wondered why the two middle-aged German chaps were holding hands at breakfast and furthermore why was the intense middle-aged English fellow in such deep conversation with the young Sri Lankan beachcomber? Mmm... quite fishy if you ask me but a certain Welsh chicken farmer of our acquaintance might have felt curiously at home there.
Our last dinner was at the lovely "Ice Bear" close to the beach - described by "The Lonely Planet" as a "colonial anachronism". There was a rusty old gate that led directly through a white arch to the fading Indian Ocean sunset. On the veranda, we ate fresh tuna steaks (grilled) and french fries with local salad, all washed down with delightful "Lion" lager - one of Ceylon's best kept secrets. Shirley and I fell back into our comfortable patterns.
With Shirley safely through security, I travelled back to Negombo bus station to catch a public bus bound for Kandy - the old colonial capital which is where I am now writing - in bizarrely - "The Prince of Wales Internet Cafe".The bus fare was the equivalent of seventy five British pence and the winding, perspirational journey up to the central hills took three and a half hours. Now that's value for money!
|Royal Bar and Hotel, Kandy|
Arriving in Kandy, I was determined to walk the mile to my humble accommodation but a hundred tuk tuk drivers seemed intent on thwarting my plan... "Want tukk tuk sir?", "Where you going? ...Very far - take tuk tuk!" and "Oi! Whitey! Jump in me tuk tuk or I'll have you!" (Not in the Gomez Place sense of the word I hasten to add!)
So I'm here and it feels cooler than the coast. I had two pre-dinner beers in the exquisite Royal Hotel - a throwback to the languid days of the British Empire. Afterwards I met Enzo - a restaurant pimp dude who led me to a locals' place for an authentic Sri Lankan curry. I gave him a hundred rupees for his trouble.Did his wife and youngest child drown on Boxing Day 2004 at Trincomlaee? You know, I really believe they did. There was a genuine sadness in his eyes as he told me the story.