Published: October 3rd 2011October 2nd 2011
A typical Sri Lankan morning scene. Many folks don’t have running water in their houses but from what I can see most have access to a well in their back yards.
Hello again everyone
Quick update on my Sri Lankan adventures. Sri Lanka is proving to be quite a photogenic place and I don’t want to flood folks with too many pictures on one post.
So far my initial plans of heading up North and then skirting the East Coast are being followed and Sri Lanka is surpassing all my (already high) expectations. It’s a great country this, and the people are by far the highlight.
There are two aspects of Sri Lankans behavior that have struck me most. Firstly, they are very polite, something that is quite English and not very Asian (in my limited experience). Secondly, and this may be down the fact I can actually understand them, they seem to have a great sense of humor. They banter and joke with each other a lot. And they also seem to have mastered that great tradition of sarcasm, saying one thing but meaning the opposite.
Now, this is not so say that all is happy and rosy, these people can turn against each other with almost unimaginable violence as my trip to Jaffna highlighted.
Jaffna is a city in the North of the Country and
My room in Jaffna. Notable only for the fact it was unspeakably grim. For three nights I had the experience of living in a prison. And it was only $5 a night so helped the old budget somewhat.
was a Tamil Tiger stronghold for many years. It was Jaffna Peninsula that the Sri Lankan Army needed to take back in order to reunite(?) the whole country as one. In 2009 the SLA officially defeated the Tamil Tigers after very bloody last stand. I am only regurgitating this stuff from guidebooks and the internet so if I get anything wrong I apologize. It would take a life time to fully understand the complex situation here
Things have settled down now and the trip to Jaffna is very easy, there is only one Army Checkpoint where I had to get off the bus and fill out a form saying where I was going and why. It was a friendly affair, I think the Soldiers are getting used to the increase of western travelers as opposed to just NGO and UN workers.
Jaffna had no real sights as such but a friendly population, for me it was important to go there to help understand Sri Lanka as a whole and not just the well travelled South and Hill Country. The conflict has never being targeted towards foreigners and as such there is no real danger to a Jonny Foreigner
This is me reading in one of the several power cuts this region experiences on a daily basis.
What stuck me about Jaffna apart from the relentless curiosity of the locals to a chap like me (you can’t sit alone for long before being approached) was the evidence both of the ferocity of the fighting but also the speed of recovery.
The evidence of conflict was very apparent, it makes you amazed that anyone could survive with the sheer amount of bullets flying around. Even the metal railings at the side of the roads had gashes and holes through them.
But the truth is Jaffna seems to getting on with it, the A9 is buzzing with vehicles, trade seems strong.
The same can be said for Trincomalee my next destination. I was expecting “Baghdad on Sea” as I saw it described. But I found a wonderful seaside town with its fair share of Western Tourists and not the conflict zone I was expecting. It just goes to show, if the peace lasts people will flock here. The coast line is still relatively undeveloped but give it a few years and places like Trincomalee will be just like Koh Samui.
So there you go, there is my very, quick, limited and uneducated
Jaffna was full of bombed out buildings.
impression of the North and East of Sri Lanka.
Next stop the Hill Country. The Tea Plantations, the old Colonial Mansions, the place where the English Colonial rule is most evident.
Words cannot say how much I am looking forward to this part of the trip. Legend has it that Nuwara Eliya can hit a freezing 16 degrees during the night, there are tales of Pubs…and Hotels with fireplaces. All things I have missed over the last six months. I can’t believe I am saying this but I am actually looking forward to being cold……
Right, going to fly.
All my love
There are more photos below