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Entries about jaffna

The long haul south

sunny 36 °C
View Sri Lankan shindizzle on goldenmaverick's travel map.

It was our last day in Jaffna yesterday so we hired the same tuk-tuk drivers again. Two nice fellas - one Hindu chap and the other a Christian. Our first stop was a Hindu temple that we've passed by a couple of times but today we went inside. Unlike the Buddhist temples where they expect you to cover up in the Hindu ones its tops off for all the lads. You can see the locals aren't used to the white farmer-tan bodies of us Irish lads.

After that we took a trip to a beach near Jaffna. Women are required to cover up so most of them get in the sea fully clothed or in some Burkini style get-up. It seems so odd from a Western perspective but when in Rome and all that. It has become very apparent that Sri Lanka is a very unequal society - the rich are downright rude to everyone, the emerging middle class are even more rude to the poor and the domestic help. There's definitely a caste system in place and the whole thing stinks from a moral perspective if you're not used to that type of thing. On top of those problems the country is a bit of an environmental disaster. Any good arising from recycling rates in Ireland or the EU is being undone here. Litter is everywhere you look around you. Plastic waste is in abundance. The diesel used in the vehicles spits out dirty noxious fumes. The country's natural beauty is being spoiled everywhere you look. It's a damn pity.

This morning we departed Jaffna on a public bus to Pollonaruwa. Jaffna was an experience but I'm not sure I'd classify it as a holiday. Their 25 day festival has been in full swing for the last couple of days and continues for the next twenty or so. One of our last sights leaving the outer limits of Jaffna was a Hindu devotee hanging with hooks through his back from a juggernaut float - mad shit is an understatement. Our bus journey was long but again the kids played a stormer. We were up with the lark and breakfast was had at the bus station to ensure we got a seat. The first three hours of the journey had some mad movie called Singam 2 playing. The hero was an all-fighting all-dancing fella with a great moustache. I'm tempted to get Singam 1 out on DVDs when I get back home. The next three and a half hours wasn't the worst and we eventually made it to our destination. We hopped off the bus at the side of the road outside Pollonaruwa and a nice gent was there waiting for us. We'd booked in at a place recommended by friends (cheers Richie and Nadette) and his brother was there waiting for us. The owner of the guesthouse turned up two minutes later and next thing we're in a jeep with our bags. It turns out the guesthouse was full so now we're in a villa owned by his brother about 200 metres away. It's newly built and is in tip top shape - far and away the nicest place we've stayed in so far. Super fast wifi, satellite TV channels, a wonderful shower, new mattresses - it really is a godsend after a week of hard travelling. The kids cannot believe their luck. And it's all just in time for Harry's 15th birthday tomorrow.

To celebrate we're off on safari in Minereya National Park. Things are looking up and it's already starting to feel more like a holiday again. I'm really glad we went to see Jaffna - it's an extraordinary place - but now we're looking forward to a little more rest and relaxation for the remainder of our time here.

Posted by goldenmaverick 09:13 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged pollonaruwa jaffna Comments (2)

The north wind blows

sunny 31 °C
View Sri Lankan shindizzle on goldenmaverick's travel map.

Yesterday we arrived in Jaffna after a couple of days in Anuradaphura. The first guesthouse we stayed in was more like a ghost house - no other travellers and no staff that we could see. It turns out that the manager is building a new hotel a few doors down hence his absence. We checked out the following morning and moved in to another place nearby. On the surface it was fine - friendly family, other guests and nice food. The matriarch of the household was showing us pictures of her daughter and telling us of her sons imminent marriage arrangements. More on that place anon.

We hired a van to bring us around the multitude of sacred sites that are in Anuradaphura. It's a really interesting place but after SE Asia a few years back we appear to have severe temple fatigue. The fact that all these temples are in places with 35 degree heat might be a contributing factor. It was a case of looking around for an hour, sweating buckets and getting back to the air-conditioned van for some respite. Harry was wearing some short shorts so we had to stop to pick him up a sarong to preserve his modesty at the religious sites. After four or five hours of historic sites we were cooked so we went back to the guesthouse.

There's nothing like a cool Lion Lager to cool you down in these parts. It was followed by a nice meal prepared at our lodgings. A group of Chinese people were also staying there - they were doing an eleven day tour in a minivan, staying in one spot each night and getting on the road the next morning. Their driver knocked out the local Arrack for me to sample. It's the local spirit which is derived from coconuts. You mix it with soda lime and ice - not bad but one taste was enough for me. Whilst this was going on one of the staff was playing with the house dog. He'd pretend to hit the kids and the dog would protect them by attacking him. It all seemed like good enough fun. For whatever reason he then brought out another dog. With all the ongoing excitement the dog took a nip at Paddy. That put a dampener on proceedings. No skin was broken but it left a nasty bruise. This morning there was no mention of the incident by the owners - it was as if it never happened. As we were leaving the owner produced the dogs vaccination records but there was no apology from him or the staff member responsible for the incident. I suppose it just confirms the superficial relationship between traveller and host. It shouldn't surprise me that much but it confirms a few things in my own head about this country.

Jaffna is another funny spot. We took the train and it was a bumpy ride for the first half of the journey - the second part was considerably smoother. The reason for this was that the second half of the line had been replaced after the long conflict with the Tamil Tigers - the line only reopened in 2014.

We're staying in some basic accommodation and sharing it with some of the local critters - a frog on the bathroom and a grass snake in the bedroom. They removed the snake this morning - they didn't really know how to do it, one chap tried to entice it into a plastic bottle with no success. Eventually they got it out with a sweeping brush. Breakfast was a bit of a major fail too - we thought we were getting fruit but got a curry instead. The kids were not impressed. We hired two tuk-Turks to explore the Jaffna peninsula and it was a great buzz. We ended up taking a boat to a Hindu temple on an island to celebrate the Pura festival with a few thousand other pilgrims. Mad buzz. On our tour we also saw how ravaged the place is from war. Every second building has been bombed out. Depressing stuff but they're slowly building the communities again. We'll have a look around Jaffna city tomorrow.

Posted by goldenmaverick 11:03 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged jaffna Comments (2)

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