Monday – day 9
Hooray, I had lasted out two nights in sub-standard accommodation, and I was moving this morning to another guest house – with air-con, bathroom, hot water etc. They rang me around 8am to confirm I was coming. I sure was. It was only five minutes walk from where I was. I could catch up on my laundry, as I was now out of clean clothes, and have a proper shower.
Despite my misgivings, I rented a bicycle to get around for the two days. It hurt to sit on a bike, but it also hurt to walk, so, as cycling was so much faster I thought the pain would be for a lot less time. My muscles will recover soon. The hotel is literally next door to the British Council, so I thought it’ll be great to stop in and read some papers. But. I am staying Monday and Tuesday nights, and it is closed Monday and Tuesday. Oh well, I still have Wednesday morning to pop in.
The Hindu temple is being renovated and is closed, but you can see it from outside to an extent.
Then I tried and tried to hunt down the Thoma Monastery, where they make a wine. I asked lots of people, and they told me where it was. But it wasn’t. There are so many churches here, and I found another nice one – St John’s. Fourth on the list for today was St. Mary’s Cathedral, and finally, in the centre of town, Anna’s Coffee, where I can buy tea. And pop in to the market for some fruit.
All that done I could come back and have a nap, and go to the Cosy Restaurant for crab curry. As it was dark when I set out I was in a quandary. Should I walk in the dark and be agile enough to get out of a vehicle’s way if necessary, but not be able to see where I put my feet – or ride the bike with no lights on, as everyone else does, and be exposed to danger for a lot less time, although less manoeuvrable. I decided it might be safer to walk, and it was pitch black, with no streetlights. It took about 15 minutes to Cosy Restaurant, but wasn’t much fun, being so dark. The crab curry was great there.
Strangely, one and a half hours later, walking back, the streetlights were on – and it was pleasant to walk off dinner and enjoy a cool breeze.
Tuesday – day 10
It was time to try the local breakfast at the hotel.
I’d already seen the sights in Jaffna. I had a (rented) bicycle, and really would like to have done another road trip to different islands. I worked out a route that would probably only be 40KM. But my rear was just too sore. It would take a week to recover as it was. Thus I decided just to have an easy day, as the next day was train, bus, plane, plane, taxi to arrive home in Penang. So I just rode randomly around Jaffna and stopped when I saw anything interesting. After it became too hot I returned for a nap, and some reading.
Then an early dinner at Hotel Green Grass, so I could ride there and return while it was still light. Good food, and huge portions, so I had over-ordered the waiter didn’t warn me. And he gave me the wrong bill. This bill was bigger than mine would be.
Wednesday – day 11
I spent my morning in the British Council next door, reading four-month old magazines. I’d hoped they’d have current newspapers. Then I read a novel for a while. It was a short stroll to the railways station from there.
The train arrived on time,and was a train with all first class carriages. The restaurant carriage had only water, soft drinks and buns for sale. The toilets were quite clean.
I didn’t see any special landscapes on the way, or anything I hadn’t already seen.
The train arrived about 10 minutes late after about a seven hour journey.
I walked the 10 minutes to the bus station and found the 187 stand, but Information told me the bus departs from the road – where buses are constantly coming and going in large numbers. I flagged it down – a tuk tuk driver who had been trying to sell me his ride to the airport told me this wasn’t the airport bus – I asked the conductor and he told me it was. It took about an hour to near the airport, and then the conductor told us to get a tuk tuk the rest of the way – Rs100 for the tuk tuk. Probably a 10 minute walk.
At the airport, chaos. Security check to enter building, security check to get to check in counters, and security check to get to departure lounge.