It would be unfair to judge Colombo on the 300 metres from the station to the YMCA, so I’ll just say initial impressions weren’t favourable.
Things perked up a lot as the day progressed: I enjoyed standing out in the semi open section and leant out the door’s window after checking the door opened inwards, and watching out for rocky outcrops and tunnels. Whilst it is still hot up here, it seems a bit cooler and a bit less oppressive, so that’s a welcome relief.
Once in Kandy, I decided to go straight to the Botanical Gardens. I tried to post a picture of the place on Facebook, but failed. Later I managed to post a selfie: not really an improvement. Sonia says we were here on our family trip to SL, but I’ve no recollection and nothing jogged my memory or looked even slightly familiar. I did enjoy my stroll round. I watched “flying foxes” (bats) hanging in the trees like old umbrellas and then swooping into the air agilely and soaring on the thermals. The gates were mobbed with locals, school parties, family outings and tourists, so I feared it was going to be very busy. However, the place is large enough to swallow a lot of people so it was quite possible to find quiet corners to sit in and small paths that weren’t too busy. I have managed to pack enough stuff (I hope) for over a week into my “single day expedition” rucksack, so it is stuffed to the gunwales though not too heavy. Better that than a case or even a rucksack and shoulder bag.
Eventually I’d had enough so it was back to Kandy. A Belgian guy with a pseudo-American accent was loudly kicking up a fuss about having been short-changed by the bus conductor. The difference sounded fairly small and I don’t think he was doing himself any favours. An itinerant seller of sticker books tried to help him, but to no avail and eventually the Belgian gave up.
I walked to my accommodation which is really rather nice. It’s on several floors with airy prospects, balconies etc. Several steps up from the YMCA, I’m glad to tell you. There are a few other people here, including an American (not a Belgian substitute) who has obviously fallen out with his two English friends. The Yank, who complained his friends just wanted to lie in the beach, is going home tomorrow and trying to pack in Sigiriya, Dambulla and Pinnewalla on the way back to the airport for a 7pm plane. My only bit of advice was that Pinnewalla (sanctuary for elephant orphans) merited more than the half hour he wad going to allot it. He has arranged a car to take him to the airport at Colombo, so it’s up to him how to divvy up his time.
Tomorrow I plan to have a relatively easy day. I’ll wander back into town and visit one or two of the main attractions here, such as the Temple of the Tooth and the museum dedicated to Sri Lanka’s most famous tusker, Raja, whose job it was to carry the Tooth on special occasions. Elephants given such an honour have to fit certain criteria, not least that their penis has to touch the ground when they walk. If I were an elephant, I’d be quite safe in obscurity.
Only Pink Floyd fans will pick up on the title of today’s piece, which refers to a Syd Barrett song title. The old currant bun is certainly shining here!