18 March - To Galle

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13 March - To Kandy
14 March - Kandy
15 March - To Haputale
16 March - To Tissa
17 March - Yala NP
18 March - To Galle

1415 Ė en route to Galle

I woke up wonderfully late, all of 7am, and lay in bed for an hour or so, writing. I canít believe how long it took me to write up yesterdayís trip. Iíve been writing off and on all day, and only just finished. It was an awesome day, yesterday.

Anyway. This morning I wanted to try an authentic Sri Lankan breakfast, with string hoppers (a sort of rice pancake) and curry, but it had to be ordered last night. Piffle. So more eggs and toast for us.

We were the first people on the Tissa-Matara bus, namely because we just missed the 9:30 bus. It filled up quickly enough, though. We left Tissa with two seats to a person, but that didnít last long. Lots of people were headed to Matara.

Much of the drive was along the coast, but other than the ocean there wasnít much of a view. A lot of people live along the water, which is why the tsunami was so devastating. Itís certainly a different climate to what weíve been used to on this inland trip.

There was a big salt-production area along the way; big shallow ponds of sea water, just evaporating and leaving salt on the mud. How do they get the salt off the mud effectively? Scrape it all up and filter it? Rinse it? Who knows.

1600 Ė on Ocelot!

Matara was well wiped out by the tsunami, and while theyíve rebuilt a fair amount, itís still fairly obvious there was damage. The road is new. There are spaces in the waterfront buildings where people didnít have enough time or money or will to rebuild.

The bus station is right by the water, a big open structure with big signs with place names. The signs even matched the buses! It was easy to find Galle, but actually the Colombo buses mostly stop there too.

Recon done, we went out to find lunch. Lonely Planet only had one place listed, faaar away. So we did the Hacking thing and went looking for something else.

All we found in the food area were little local dives. Dark little rooms. Fly infestations. Not a word of English, spoken or written. Everyone looked at us really strangely when we stuck our heads in.

We finally found a place with a sign in English: Rice and chicken, Rs 90. Excellent. The place obviously catered to the bus crowd. Each meal was already in a Styrofoam box, ready to take. They had to scramble for plates and spoons for the foreigners who donít know how to eat with their fingers. It was quite a good meal, actually. We splurged and went for a fruit salad with ice cream. The whole thing still only came to $8.

We splurged again for the bus. Instead of 50-odd rupees for a normal bus, we took an air-conditioned minibus for (gasp!) Rs 195 each. So expensive Ė and yet so much more comfortable.

It was interesting to see the coast we had sailed past from the shore. Of course we didnít drive through little fishing villages, but that is mostly what we saw from the boat.

Most of the time we were in sight of the ocean. It was blowing like stink from the southeast and waves were pounding the beach pretty hard. I canít imagine what it was like during the tsunami. Somehow it feels like it was more serious here than in places that got completely wiped out like Phi Phi Don in Thailand. When you live on or visit a small, isolated island you have to be prepared for the ocean to do wild things. But the people hereÖ most of them donít even involve the ocean in their lives. Itís there, yes, but Sri Lankaís so solid itís difficult to imagine it washing away. But it did. Itís absolutely terrible to imagine.

The bus dropped us off right at Galle Harbor and here we are Ė home sweet home! No relaxing allowed, however. We may have just finished a trip, but tomorrow we have to go Colombo to drop Chris off at the airport. Another full day of travel, and another after that to get back. Sigh.

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