Elections and Elephants
We visited Sri Lanka in early 2004 to see the Australian cricket team in one of their matches. We didn’t plan too much beforehand and this proved our undoing in some ways. On arrival in Colombo, we took a taxi to our hotel – The Galle Face. This really is an “olde worlde” hotel and is a very impressive building right on the beach front. Not exactly five star, but if you’re after a sense of history, definitely the place to be. We had intended to visit Sigiriya but found that both the trains and the hotels were booked out for the entire period of our visit. If you really want to get up that way, it would be best to organise it before you arrive in Sri Lanka.
Since this part of our plan fell through, we decided to head down to Hikkadua and relax on the beach instead. Unfortunately, we didn’t realise that it was the last day for election nominations and encountered some very heavy traffic. All of the local townspeople form a parade and accompany their candidates to the registry, so every town was moving at walking pace. Once we got there, Hikkadua was great – very relaxing in an art deco type guesthouse right on the beach. We took in some diving and the sheer numbers of fish were amazing. We also visited Galle and the old walled town, which was really cool.
Back to Colombo and the cricket was fantastic as expected. The Lankans really enjoy themselves and provide non-stop music throughout the games. What fun! We also took a taxi up to Kandy for the day, mainly to visit the elephant orphanage. Don’t be outraged by the fact that foreigners get charged about ten times the rate of locals and this place is fantastic. The herd of elephants is quite big and you can interact with them quite closely.
I don’t know the extent of the damage around Hikkadua and Galle from the tsunami, but hopefully the rebuilding is proving successful. It is sad to me that Sri Lanka seems on the brink of civil war again.