I was on the road just after 7am for the 40 mile ride up the coast and back to where I started 24 days ago.
An interesting ride along the beautiful coast, some what marred with so called luxury hotels hidden behind their prison height walls 🙁 with an intermingling of shacks and closer to Colombo a veritable shanty town around the railway line. Pretty astonishing such poverty in so much natural beauty.
The road I came into Colombo was just full of workshops either sawing up giant tree trunks or making furniture and doors etc. No health and safety here! shudder to think how many fingers and eyes have been lost from the huge circular saws 🙁
I then spent all afternoon to rearrange my flight home. My word the Qatar Airlines website is a total & utter shambles, glossy on the service but totally broken underneath apart from booking new flights. In the end out of desperation I went to their Facebook page and finally using Facebook Messenger the job was done! but oh how painful 🙁
The main reason for staying at the stupidly expensive Bentota Beach Hotel was so I could use their river cruise through the mangrove swamps. I opted for the one hour one as experience tells me I rapidly get bored sitting in a boat 🙂
It was just me and the guide, a young chap who spoke good English and had sharp eyes. So we quickly saw a lot of wildlife: herons, lizards, crocodiles come to mind. A nice tourist touch was pulling in and a guy with a baby crocodile stepping aboard so you could have a picture taken with it, me somewhat nervous of all those teeth.
In the afternoon after a decent swim in their 35 metre pool, the best feature of the hotel, I took myself of for a walk. The touts soon leave you after 50 metres of walking and I was soon on my own. On maps.me I spotted the Siri Sumansrama Temple (interesting that Apple use the name Siri for their digital assistant) so I headed over their. The place was deserted, its quite a modest temple but soon a monk came over and invited me in 🙂 He showed me around explaining why the Buddha is surrounded by Hindu figures and also the new Buddha statue they are making under the Serpents head. All very symbolic and interesting.
I was then invited into his house for a cuppa and cake, well I am a cyclist 🙂 Where he told me his story of becoming a monk when he was 9 and staying at this temple all the time and how he learnt such good English.
The subject soon turned to architecture the next thing I know we are in a Tuk Tuk to see the totally stunning former summer home of architect Geoffrey Bawa at Lunuganga. Wow totally amazing, he was obviously a keen arboriculturist as well the selection of trees was stunning! A gorgeous tall Teak at the entrance and then planted & trained trees inside like Balsa, Ebony, Temple trees (Plumeria) and a lot more. The whole estate is cleverly designed to maximise the elevated position in a dog leg of the huge river. I just loved it and reminded me of Chris & I visit to Henry Moore’s old studio near Cambridge. Totally incredible and many thanks to my new monk friend 🙂
A really early start at 6.35 from the educational house 🙂 they were using the carport where my bike was stored as an evening classroom last night whilst her daughter was marking!
I had plotted a route last night away from the coast along quieter roads. The only problem was when I left it was the school rush hour! with hundreds of kids and various forms of transport everywhere! a bit like around Em’s old school magnified to Indian proportions 🙂
Once the last stragglers made it the road quietened down and it turned into a pleasant ride along the backwaters of Sri Lanka, all the prices came tumbling down on leaving Galle Fort and once again i could get drinks for 37p or so 🙂
Eventually I reached the A2 coast road for the last small stretch into Bentota, patting myself on the back for avoiding all that traffic all morning.
I had booked into Bentota Beach Resort after reading the Rides around Sri Lanka book and their offerings of river trips to the mangrove swamps nearby. However, its really pricey X4 what I paid last night. OK it is infinitely more luxurious than last night especially the 35 metre long outdoor pool but beers are £4 a pint instead of £1. Interestingly the government adds an extra 30% tax on these luxury places.
I arrived at before 11am so was able to max out on pool time and mess about with the open water swim mode on the watch – it seemed to work quite well although I’ve now measured the pool on Google Earth so tomorrow is the real test!