Village People

Immediately after posting last night’s blog, I had another look at the “luxury” railway carriages on offer. The company with a coach on the 9:35 train seemed almost impossible to book: I’d need to get my ticket validated in advance, either tracking down one of their “nationwide” agents based in a chain of pawnbrokers(!) or else by going to one of a number of places on the route to get my ticket validated, none of which appear to be in Galle. The other company offering this up-market travel are only on the 7:00am Colombo to Kandy train and as their website reckoned only to have a handful of seats left I’ve taken the plunge and booked.

The SL railway website for “normal” trains is dire. I can find out how much it would cost to take accompanied fish, or a ventilated box of chickens, to Colombo – I’m not kidding you – but not a timetable! There are various other websites that claim to have the train times but they are third party and sometimes several years out of date, so can’t be regarded as reliable. Admittedly, there is a specific SL Railways website for e-bookings, but it fails to load any time I try and I doubt it’d be much better. There’s never a Mussolini around when you need one.

While I was doing all this, Sera took delivery of more egg hoppers and I tucked into one with great gusto, despite having had lunch. They seem to order these quite often, the same way we might send out for a pizza (though “we” tend not to!) and I can see why: delicious crepe-style bowl-shaped base, soft and moist at the bottom, crisp and dry round the rim, with a well-peppered fried egg sitting in the “bowl”. There may be a marketing opportunity back in the UK, but my SL cookery skills will need honing as I got the impression that Purmina – no mean cook herself – reckons she can’t make them to the required standard. A recent night’s blogging session was accompanied by a glass of her homemade vegetable soup – very like Scotch Broth, but without the meaty bits. I needed to ask for a spoon as it was really thick with vegetables at the bottom, but very tasty.

We’ve settled on our little cheese and oatcakes party tomorrow evening about 8:30 after my online phone call to Sonia and IT lesson with the kids. I’ve bought some beer for Sera and myself. Purmina doesn’t drink beer, so she’ll have to put up with lemonade which I got for the kids. Sera says we can eat outside in the garden and they’ll put candles on the table! It’s dark here by 7:00pm, though still hot of course. I’ll need to get down and dirty with the DEET.

Talking of “down and dirty” reminds me of a local-looking guy I saw yesterday in Galle. He was wearing a tee shirt with pictures of a couple of scantily clad sexy bathing beauties and the caption “Dirty Beaches”. Not very politically correct, but it did make me smile!

After visiting Galle station on Sunday morning, I’ve discovered there is no train that’ll get me to Colombo in time that morning, so I’m going to travel up the night before and I have booked in at the YMCA! It was either that or mega bucks at The Oriental or The Hilton as I want to be near the station for my morning train and reduce exorbitant tuk-tuk charges. I think I’ll start one of those Facebook Quizzes: “Which member of the Village People Are You?”

On the up side, I’ve now booked accommodation in each place I’m staying. My SL phone technique must be improving.

There are quite a few trees around the neighbourhood and one of the pleasures in the mornings is watching the monkeys. There are often a dozen or more adults and young leaping through the high branches with incredible agility, eating leaves and grabbing fruit. Even the little ones hurl themselves in death-defying leaps from one slender branch across huge gaps to grab similarly insubstantial twigs on another tree. They are generally just too far off to get decent photos or video, but sometimes they come down into the garden of the house / shop next door and the neighbours set off fireworks to scare them away. I no longer jump when I hear the whoosh of a rocket followed by a bang, which temporarily sends the animals careering away through the branches, to come back again a few hours later. The best time to see them is early morning before the sun hits the tops of the trees: presumably they settle down somewhere shady to dodge the heat of the day, before a gradual return towards evening.

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