This place was a first for me. The guy on reception bought a cup of tea to my room OK it was totally disgusting but its the thought that counts 🙂
I made a very early start at before 7am by dispensing with breakfast and hitting the road before peak sun. I was pretty certain food would be easily available en-route. It was a busy fast road with mainly a painted cycle lane so I bombed along 🙂 using the draught from the buses as power. I even saw a peloton going the other way – with a land rover as a safety vehicle! Maybe SWNC should get one 🙂
Amazingly I found a de-luxe roadside restaurant complex for breakfast with a lovely mango fruit smoothie.
I continued on at speed until I saw these two guys carrying unbelievably high loads of firewood on their old bikes. Totally amazing and they made it seem so stable even with trucks passing them 🙂
The stretch between Medawachchiya and Rambewa was particularly bad with very heavy traffic and the road narrowed due to the edge breaking away reducing the width. Scary in the extreme.
I arrived in Anurradhapura OK and found The Senowin Holiday Resort, once again Resort is in the phase “last resort” rather in any positive sense. She insisted that AC would double the price as the booking.com was for a non AC room 🙁 I agreed. Then I found the WiFi was rubbish.
My Marco Polo guide said I should see the Mirisawatiya Stupa constructed in 200BC (what where we building in the UK then?) so off I pedalled around the complex until a policeman asked me for my ticket, I shrugged my shoulders and he escorted me away. Just wasn’t worth paying $25 30 minutes before sunset 🙁
Trying to get a meal in the evening was hard I could only find one restaurant open. Weird in a tourist mecca like this.
A pretty impressive day with Strava saying I did over 84 miles at nearly 13mph 🙂
Today was a feast of Hindu Temples and seeing the mindless destruction of the civil war coupled to a visit of Sri Lanka’s northern most point.
I didn’t leave Old Park Villa until well after 8am due to the dilatory nature of the staff. I don’t think they are used to folks wanting to dash off. Amazingly the route I had planned took me straight past the stunning Nallur Kandawamy Kovil, so impressive I stopped and went inside after been made to take shirt and shoes off!
Once leaving I spied a ice cream parlour – yummy yummy huge bowl of ice cream to keep me going for the day 🙂
The route then took me past at least 10 more temples plus some pleasant fishing villages some still with tsunami damage others blown up in the war! I suspect there will be aland grab going on soon for all the empty plots overlooking the ocean, I eventually made it to the northern most part of Sri Lanka, Point Pedro. Did my selfie then moved on as not a lot there.
I started heading south the wanton destruction everywhere, whole villages blown up and flattened. I came across the HALO mine clearance encampment, what a job! they’ve cleared tens of thousands of them but still 100s of thousands more. Staggering. Apparentlt it was like WW1 with trenches, barbed wire everywhere.
I made it to Kilinochchi and stayed at the first hotel AKR basic but OK. Walking through the town later I came across the blown up water tower, now a memorial, one of the last acts before the town was taken by the south. It reminded me of my Danube trip and Vukovar shot up water tower left as a memorial.
A bigger shock then came in that the town is a dry one 🙁
The Juli Hotel managed breakfast OK although my coffee was tea and arrived just as we were finishing. Reception, or lack of it, caused a huge delay. I was just thinking of doing a bunk when Ashoka the naturalist/birder guide appeared. He immediately rang them up and a guy dutifully appeared 5 mins later 🙁 The hotel still has a lot to learn in western customer service!
A small plug here for Ashoka Jaarathne, Eco tour Operator. If any of my twitcher readers fancy a trip out here to watch the birds etc I would recommend him. Very knowledgable and speaks good English.
I felt really tired, probably the jet lag catching up, so ended up stopping for numerous drinks. A big difference to Cuba is that there are shacks selling junk food/pop every few miles mostly with fridges 🙂 A 300ml bottle of Coke is 50 Rupees (£0.27).
The road is in perfect condition except for a few places where obviously the bridges got destroyed in the war, this and a few burnt out buildings is all that you can see of that terrible time. I must have passed at least 10 army barracks as well.
It’s very flat and reminds me of Titchwell RSPB, although they would die for the birdlife here 🙂 The causeway over to Jaffna is stunning even with an ice cream van at the end.
I haven’t really explored Jaffna yet as I discovered the Old Park Villa for a very reasonable price on the way in!
Really, in the end, an excellent day and I so love biking on smooth empty roads in shorts & sandals. I truly am insanely lucky to still be able to do it easily at 69.531119 years old 🙂
The sleep was OK apart from a locomotive doing shunting duties at 3am and continually blowing its whistle 🙁 However I still managed nearly 8 hours of sleep.
I met up with the guys from last night for breakfast at The Senathilka Guest Inn (where I should have stayed) having a double omelette, the portions here are so small compared o at home. I left them still eating at 7.30 as they are travelling even lighter than me and younger 🙁
Biking along all I was worrying about is can you bike through the Wilpattu National Park on the road direct to Mannar. I decided to stock up with a hand of bananas and 2 litres of water. Great move!
The roadside sprawl slowly dwindled away. Till nothing, how unusual for these parts. The surface changed to concrete, excellent I thought, then suddenly it became a sandy very bumpy dirt track for the next 25 miles 🙁 🙁 I heard an elephant and saw a Sloth but precious other wildlife apart from beggars on motorbikes 🙁 Once I pointed out he had a new motorbike and I only an old pushbike he drove off 🙂 I found the going really tough especially with my shoulders aching with the constant jarring 🙁
I eventually came out onto the tarmac to be met with the four guys who had caught me up, we went straight through the checkpoint passing a rather bewildered guy in his sentry box, we rode on and found a stall to refresh.
Interestingly the north side of the park is totally different with rice fields and new small houses in smallholdings near a mosque, meanwhile the Hindu temple is getting overgrown, I guess they lost..
I ploughed on taking a quick look at the beautiful but derelict remains of the house of the First British Governor of Ceylon. Then it was into the wind on my own (the others didn’t stop) across the causeway into Mannar and The Hotel Juni, rather dysfunctional but OK.
I enjoyed chatting to the couple my age over a slightly disjointed dinner. They are from from Vancouver Island over here on a birding holiday with a local birder company.