Joel’s Sri Lanka Journal, Part 3

Wednesday, July 28

Up at seven a.m., took breakfast (Jaffles) and loaded the car.

Picked up Kevin and his wife at eight a.m. and drove to a 2,500 year old Buddhist temple in the middle of Potuville. Kevin says the place was dug up 40 years ago and is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in the world. We hung out and shot photos like we were Japanese at Disneyland, then kept heading up the coast with Kevin, pointing out breaks, etc.

Got to (name of spot withheld) around ten. The surf was noticeably bigger and more consistent. D. Hump shot while everyone surfed for a few hours. Headed home, dropped off Kevin and his wife, and went back for lunch. Crab and fried rice.

Around three, walked out and shot photos of ex-pat guys in local bar.

Went and shot Jeremy at the left (Shite’s Reef), and then surfed (name of spot withheld) for 20 minutes.

Dinner at eight. Beef curry and potato curry. Settled up the bill. Siri was eggy (what’s new?).

After dinner, packed for trip to Kandi in the a.m. and went to Rasta Rick’s for a final drink with the locals. Hung out until midnight drinking rum with the locals and watching Heit pick up a girl from San Francisco.

The locals need a place in this article. They are a huge part of the ambiance, and they have to be given credit for finding this needle in a haystack of possible escapes from the world.

Thursday, July 29

Up at five a.m., finished packing, and was picked up by two vans (one for the boards, one for bodies) for the ride to Kandi, which was rumored to be somewhere between five and seven hours, depending on who you ask.

Packed up out stuff and got on the road by about 6:30.

The scenery got lush and green fast once we departed Arugam Bay, and the people looked less like suspicious Muslims and more like average people. While we drove, the children of the island walked to school, all wearing white uniforms and carrying books.

We stopped twice for food during the drive to Kandi at local restaurants. Very ghetto, third world. Eating with hands, plastic-coated plates.

Jeremy was hilarious on the drive and everyone gave him shit for hooking up with the hippy girl.

Somewhere on the way to Kandi I accidentally erased my camera’s memory card and lost two days worth of photos and videos. A bit pissed for 15 minutes, but I got over it. My attitude’s been really good this trip. I’ve been positive and happy.

Arrived in Kandi at two p.m. and were surprised how nice the Gem Inn was…especially for eighteen dollars per night for six of us.

Kandi is in the hills, and the elevation makes it far cooler than the coast and with way less bugs. Didn’t have to use bug spray for the first time in ten days. Hotel is clean and the six of us would sleep in the same room, backpacker style.

We called the Queen’s Hotel in town to get tickets (reserved seats) for the parade. Then we all got our cameras and long pants on and headed to the main district of Kandi.

Used the ATM then went down to the Queen’s. The seats at the hotel were pretty budget, and the streets were bustling with parade goers, trinket vendors, and hustlers trying to sell us seats. D. Hump found a guy who had an entire balcony overlooking the parade for less per person (3,500 Rupiah) than Queen’s wanted (4,500).

Had three hours to kill, so we went to Pizza Hut, and it was so nice to not have curry for one meal. The Pizza Hut was such a change from the rest of Sri Lanka. So air-conditioned, so sterile, so empty of culture.

After, we checked e-mail and walked around. I bought a Hello Kitty wallet for $1.45. We saw elephants eating by the temple, chained to walls.

Got to our seats at seven p.m. and waited for the parade, which started at 8:25.

The parade moved slow, and eventually became a test of patience. Three hours of repetitive drum groups and cloaked elephants. The streets were packed and we worried that the balcony we were standing on was going to collapse.

Eggy and tired wh it ended. Walked one km home and fell deep asleep. Best sleep in ten days.

Note: Plan Iceland trip with Joe. Bring Nelly, Tom C., Raph Bruhwiler, others?

Friday, July 30

Up at eight. Great rest. Cold shower, Western breakfast, packed to go to Colombo. Marlon, Teasha, and Joe fly out tonight.

“This is the best day of my life.
“Why?
“I don’t know, it just is.—Jeremy re: Friday.

Drove from Kandi to Colombo all day with several stops on the way. Went to a souvenir shop to buy little Buddhas, then to a Sri Lankan spice garden, then to lunch at a fake Western place with terrible food.

Realizing that most Sri Lankans live in abstract poverty when compared to Americans. Missing the relaxed vibe of Arugam Bay as we tour the island. Things move fast in the heart of the country, and the oppressive heat makes it sweaty.

As we neared the airport, Marlon didn’t look so hot. He was pale and sweaty. We’d been drinking and listening to everyone’s iPods really loud, but something else was going on with Marlon.

Eventually he signaled to pull over and he tried to throw up. After, he passed out in the backseat. He took four of the Diazepam without us knowing.

“What a grom, Jeremy said.

We stopped and Joe and Teasha bought bikes. Joe was worried, but Teasha was determined. Sort of a microcosm of their interactions, really. Very cool.

Got to the airport around eight, dropped off Joe, Teasha, and Marlon, said goodbye, and drove off toward Colombo for the night.

Was sad to leave those guys. On trips like this, everyone takes on a certain role, and we had just lost half our cast.

Drove an hour in shit traffic to Colombo, where we tried four different hotels—all booked. Cricket final on Sunday has all hotels booked. Ended up at the Colombo Hilton (nicest hotel in Sri Lanka) around 10:30, and got a killer suite. Everyone was very happy to be out of the jungle and in a bit of luxury.

Showered and went to the lobby bar. Then went to Blue Elephant nightclub. Hot Asian girls everywhere. We were all amazed, having been away from that for a while. Tried to pick up two stewardesses from Saudi Air. No luck.

In bed around two. The guys gave me the king.

Saturday, July 31

Up at ten. Breakfast in the lobby, good Western food. Nice to be back in the world, but I miss Arugam. I think we all do.

After breakfast, hung out in the room until two. Then showered and checked out. Gave our luggage to the concierge and took a took-took to a shopping place. Weird rip-off clothes.

Found a bowling alley and we bowled three games. Laughed and had fun fucking around. Wished the other guys were there. Jeremy was very sad to learn that Sri Lanka was dry for a holiday. No beer. Nothing. Ouch.

After, tried to find a bar that would serve us beer, but eventually gave up, bought some pirated DVDs and went back to the hotel. Ate Italian food and reminisced. Talked about photos and surf companies and when we would hang out again.

Killed more time until our van to the airport arrived at ten p.m. Loaded up and drove 45 minutes in no traffic to Colombo airport.

The airport is very low-tech, with dirty walls and few modern airport conveniences. The opposite of Hong Kong. Said goodbye to D. Hump. Killed more time.

Sunday, August 1

Sat around, drank beers until our flight at 2:45 am. Just before boarding, spotted Jeremy’s “hippy in the departure lounge. She was so stoked to see him, he couldn’t remember her name.

Flew to Bangkok on an uncrowded flight. Slept about an hour. Sad to be gone. Wished I was still surfing Potuville.

Two-hour layover in Bangkok, slept.

Three-hour flight to Hong Kong next to a very smelly guy who read the Koran the entire flight. When they read, they mouth all the words and bad breath can be very pronounced.

Got to Hong Kong around two p.m., changed my seat to an aisle. After, Jeremy and I ate at the sports bar and played pool, then I did some writing.

Met back up and watched Anchorman on my computer. Started feeling really sick. Sort of like the flu coming on. Achy, dizzy, cold.

Slept at the gate for an hour before the flight. Worried I had food poisoning or that people would see me and think I have SARS or something. Imagined spending 3 weeks in a Chinese hospital.

Got on the packed 14-hour flight and immediately fell asleep. I must have been exhausted from so little sleep.

Slept the first seven hours of the flight to LAX. Slept on and off for the second half of the journey.

Still feel sick, though not quite as bad when we walked into LAX.

Dad met us and we loaded the car. Stomach cramping. Took 45 minutes to get out of parking structure. Go first world! All the expensive cars and paved roads is a bit disorienting after A Bay. I already miss it. I wonder if I go back with a different crew some day will it be the same, or was it great because of Joe, Jeremy, Teasha, Marlon, and Dustin?

Home at two a.m. Feeling ill. Sleep. Sleep.

Thanks for reading. After I got home, I was really sick for two weeks. I got some kind of stomach virus and it kept me in bed for the first three days after I got back. I think it was a hamburger I ate in Hong Kong on the way home. Not a great idea, admittedly. Sri Lanka is beautiful and very welcoming to visitors, and I recommend a trip. The Lonely Planet guide will be of huge service. We would have missed lots of great stuff without it. Live life — see the world. back up and watched Anchorman on my computer. Started feeling really sick. Sort of like the flu coming on. Achy, dizzy, cold.

Slept at the gate for an hour before the flight. Worried I had food poisoning or that people would see me and think I have SARS or something. Imagined spending 3 weeks in a Chinese hospital.

Got on the packed 14-hour flight and immediately fell asleep. I must have been exhausted from so little sleep.

Slept the first seven hours of the flight to LAX. Slept on and off for the second half of the journey.

Still feel sick, though not quite as bad when we walked into LAX.

Dad met us and we loaded the car. Stomach cramping. Took 45 minutes to get out of parking structure. Go first world! All the expensive cars and paved roads is a bit disorienting after A Bay. I already miss it. I wonder if I go back with a different crew some day will it be the same, or was it great because of Joe, Jeremy, Teasha, Marlon, and Dustin?

Home at two a.m. Feeling ill. Sleep. Sleep.

Thanks for reading. After I got home, I was really sick for two weeks. I got some kind of stomach virus and it kept me in bed for the first three days after I got back. I think it was a hamburger I ate in Hong Kong on the way home. Not a great idea, admittedly. Sri Lanka is beautiful and very welcoming to visitors, and I recommend a trip. The Lonely Planet guide will be of huge service. We would have missed lots of great stuff without it. Live life — see the world.