After soaking up the pre T20WC vibe in laid back Colombo we decided to head south.Match tickets had been collected and I had enough of being asked to pose for pics with all these cricket legends anyway. Working our way South to the land of sunshine, surf and maybe a few more cocktails. Tangalle, It’s only about 190kms……
It started like this ….. a 10 minute walk from our Mount Lavinia Homestay, a bumpy 45min bus trip to Colombo, via many voluntary and involuntary stops. All going well, there’s plenty time for a station fruit smoothie, get the tickets and hop on.
There begins the marathon journey. Train delay – nothing unusual – a 45 minute wait. Train Tickets in hand, a packed platform, 2 eager beaver, lone tourists amongst what seems like way too many Sri Lankans to squeeze onto the available carriages. It’s still all smiley smiley, chit chat, head wobble and all, until the train arrives. It’s like announcing a free Iphone 5 amongst a room full of techno geeks, an 80% Zara sale amongst a hoard of desperate housewives…. Get the picture?
Unleash the inner Chuck Norris. Suddenly the diminutive sweet mother was using her baby as a battering ram to clear a path for the extended family boarding the train. I joined the menagerie of shoving, using my backpack as a tool of mass destruction, trying to do what Moses did. We managed to get on.
It was going to be a long 3h30 train ride standing all the way, jostling for a place to hang onto as the train bounced it’s way along the coastline tracks, whilst also desperately leaning my sweaty torso over grannies who had muscled ahead of me to grab a seat, trying to get a glimpse of the stunning scenery whizzing past.The Chuck Norris family resumed their friendly disposition again and continued our previous cricket discussion, from the comfort of their seat.
Wallahs of all description came squeezing through, selling anything from kiddies books to drinks, snacks of indeterminable description (which we tried and were delicious with roasted chillies),crumbed prawns and peanuts. Yes – crumbed prawns. You read it. If it were not for the standing issue, you could have been forgiven for thinking you were in 1st class. Fantastic.
Masses came and went and eventually a seat opened up next to the window, just in time for the next squall which had us drenched before we could wrestle the window closed. A chai stop along the way and 4 hours later we’re at Matara train station. Tuk Tuk to Bus stop, then we’re almost at our destination – a quick bus ride to Tangalle.
“Tangalle”, a small town along the East coast of Sri Lanka. “Galle”, a bigger town, also on the East coast of Sri Lanka. From where we were – in opposite directions. Rule no 3. Never allow anyone to shove you onto a bus muttering in a language you have no understanding of. “Tangalle bus…..?” Head wobble, “yes, yes, yes. You go. Bus leave now. Go!”, as we are summarily shoved onto a bus pulling off. Perfect timing we thought! Rule no 1 – trust your gut.A slight distraction by the very cool Sri Lanka/ Indian Reggae music blaring from the bus added to some delay in realizing our error. We were headed back to where we had just came from. 30 minutes later we were flung out on the side of the road to get the next bus back to Matara, again. After much consternation with about 10 people pointing in 15 directions we got onto a bus headed in the right direction, South. The detour inland added a few more kilometres to the journey. But the kamikaze driver, spurned on by the frantic music kept you on the edge of your seat as children, coconuts and goats whizzed past the window at high speed. Stopping was not an option. Slowing down marginally to disembark was the norm. Tuck and roll, I thought, Tuck and Roll. At least we made up for some of the lost time.
At Tangalle bus station the bus slowed down enough for us to jump onto another bus, a few minutes later we were welcomed with yet another beaming smile and cold, frosty beer. Welcome to NugaSewana Eden, Tangalle.
If you’re wondering about Rule no 2…. Never get in the way of a mother and child trying to get onto a packed train, bus or Tuk Tuk. Chuck Norris wouldn’t stand a chance!