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Cleared in and running wild

February 1, 2015

Wow, land at last. We had a dramatic entry to Trincomalee that started with a night entry and being stopped by an unlit, black commando (navy seal) type fast boat and ended with being assigned a supertanker berth for the night.

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We were moved the next morning as an incoming bulk concrete cargo ship wanted to tie up to unload. How rude! We ended up tied to a barge and haven’t budged since.

At least if we have to have the mast taken out there is a crane onboard the barge that can easily accommodate us. However, that is not something we are planning on doing.

We did escape from Trinco. We had torn apart our drifter on the sail over to Sri Lanka. There is a sailmaker, UK Sails, in Galle. We packed up the sail and travelling by bus we traversed Sri Lanka starting out on a local, non AC’d bus making our first stop in Kandy, the home of the beginning of tea in Sri Lanka.

image View from Sandhu and Anita’s home looking over Kandy

The bus trip wasn’t so bad but it did involve trying to remain in the seat while the driver wildly swerved in and out of the traffic. Luckily we had a large sail to buffer our foreheads from the steel bar in front of us when the driver had to brake suddenly..

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Kandy was a great spot to break the journey. We spent two nights at the home of Anita and Sandhu.
image Sandhu and Anita

It was a great place situated high on one of the hills overlooking Kandy. They were wonderful hosts treating us to Sri Lankan breakfasts and dinner. We also toured around to tea factories, tea museums and a spectacular botanical garden called Peradeniya.video slide show from youtube

image All the different types of Sri Lankan tea

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Sri Lankan breakfast at Lily Rosa’s guesthouse http://www.lillyrosa.com

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Next part of the journey involved taking the train, Rajadhani express, from Kandy to Colombo. We booked the trip on the Rajadhani express. Don’t be mistaken. This is not an express but rather an A/C coach that’s added on to the regular train. Definitely not an express. Just like everyone else on the other train cars it makes its way along long neglected tracks badly in need of repairs to the roadbed. There were times when even the Rajadhani express train car bottomed out on its springs! That is a little frightening when you are going around a corner.

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By the time we got to Colombo it was dusk. We wanted to get to Galle. We arrived at 1750hrs and there was a connecting train leaving for Galle at 1800hrs. We managed to rush off and buy a ticket, get to the platform and waited till 1820hrs when the train arrived and then the ‘Sri Lankan Squeeze’ started. Oh my god. I am sure you have seen pictures of trains in South Asia where people are hanging out the windows and sitting on top of the train. This was a no reserved seat special and was the ‘express’ to Galle.

We managed to get on the train but only just. We were just inside the door to the train. Packed like sardines and desperately trying to remove my nose from someone’s armpit we shunted off down the tracks. 20 minutes later, soaked from sweat, gasping for air and a little traumatized we stopped at a station. ‘What’, you can’t put more people on! Oh yes we can. Connie wanted to get off but we couldn’t move. People were kind and told us that at the next stop a lot of people would get off. Several stops later we were able to move into the carriage and eventually got a seat for the remainder of the 2.5 hour train journey.

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It was a shame it wasn’t daylight. The train goes along the coast. Third class train travel means all the windows are open. The evening’s tropical breeze is forced in the window and the smells of Sri Lankan food being cooked in the homes waft through the railway car windows and the evening lights go by in a blur. It was a 2.5hr trip to Galle passing by stations proudly displaying beautifully potted tropical plants and freshly painted station buildings. If it wasn’t for the tropical breeze blowing through the train one would think you were passing through a quaint english train station.

Galle, an alternate harbour for yachts. It’s not a natural harbour and as such, over the centuries, sailing ships have been caught out and sank in the harbour. The Marine Archaeology Museum has some wonderful artifacts on display taken from sunken ships in the harbour. Despite the dangers there was a fort built here by the Europeans in the 1600s and today the walled fort is undergoing a renaissance albeit one driven by international tourist. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site and reminds me most of old Havana but on a much smaller scale. The renovations are ongoing but it is not only attracting foreign tourist but also acts as a haven for wedding photography.

image Enchanting

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image what a special day

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After getting our sail repaired we are getting ready to return to Trincomalee

10 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2015 21:44

    Your train ride reminds me of Central American “Collectivos”, 8 passenger vans that provide public transportation. The answer to the question: “How many people fit in a Collectivo?” is “4 more”.

    Glad you made it ok.

    Freezing in Ipswich.

    Barrie & Sandra

  2. February 1, 2015 22:53

    What an achievement – we have also had the ‘comando’ boatload boarding! Love your tales, I hope the return train journey along the coast was in daylight. An enforced journey – tick off another adventure Tony and Connie.
    Thanks for the update.
    4″ snow and 0 degrees in Seldovia!
    Raewyn & Brent

  3. February 1, 2015 23:37

    Tony, Connie:

    Your odyssey and your blog leave me spellbound. Awesome! We’ll have to get a ‘Sage’ plaque installed on the seawall in the Inner Harbour when you finally arrive back in Victoria.
    Kudus all the way.
    Fred

  4. Donald Innes permalink
    February 2, 2015 01:27

    Hello Guys more wonderful interesting travel news, I have come to rely on your posts I feel infested in your story. Thanks so much for sharing your journey it makes an arm chair sailor like me feel connected and still dreaming.
    Be well and take good care
    much Peace!
    Don

  5. Annie Boldt permalink
    February 2, 2015 01:31

    I TIHNK YOU SHOULD BUY CONNIE ONE OF THOSE GOLD HAIR DECORATIONS TONY.I KNOW SHE WOULD LOOK FETCHING IN IT!!
    ANNIE B.

  6. February 2, 2015 06:47

    Good work, chaps!

  7. Henrik Nor-Hansen permalink
    February 2, 2015 07:27

    Ah. Suddenly this hibernation of ours in North Carolina seems dull indeed. Btw, I second miss Boldt’s comment.

    Date: Sun, 1 Feb 2015 12:02:37 +0000 To: sybika@hotmail.com

  8. Sue Donaldson permalink
    February 2, 2015 09:48

    Bwahahahahahaa! After all my extolling the virtues of train travel in Sri Lanka & you get one with no 1st class service! 🙂 I can just see Connie needing to get off RIGHT NOW! So good & brava for sticking it out–at least you weren’t right beside the loos, or in them!

  9. February 4, 2015 12:11

    Heard you met some REALLY famous people in Galle…but you can’t mention them, you being CIA and everything. I’ve got my eyes on you two!

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