Feeling old today...

Trip Start Sep 21, 2005
1
105
314
Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Day 105 Tue 21st Feb 2006
Feeling old today...
I didn't sleep very well last night, I don't know what it is, I'm longing for a goodnights sleep but it just doesn't happen. I got up around 9am and wanted to have a shower, but the water wasn't warm yet (one of the main reasons I stayed here is because they have hot water). Fizzel said it would take about 20 minutes for the water to become hot enough for a shower so I had breakfast first. When I eventually got around to the shower, the light was not working in the bathroom. Fizzel said he couldn't replace the bulb because there was something wrong with the supply, so I just gave it a miss and decided to find somewhere else to stay. I went down to the town and met up with Nimaal, he told me about a place his friend had called The Glen Fall Inn, I didn't even go to have a look at it, I just went to Fizzal's, packed up my stuff, paid the bill and moved over. It took me around 15 minutes to walk up to the new place and with my back/front pack on it was hard work. The new place is really nice, it's not dark and dingy, more like bright and breezy. It has wooden floors and a really nice lounge area. The water is warm 24 hours a day so the first thing I did after checking in was take a shower. My first hot shower in Sri Lanka!!!

With nothing else planned for the day, I made plans to make a little trek up Mount Pidurutalagala (Piduru) with Nimaal. I met up with him in town around 2pm and I needed to get my headphone fixed so he took me to a mates shop. The guy had a look at them, but I just ended up using his soldering iron to fix them myself. He was a really nice guy and didn't even charge me anything, which is good considering we were in there the best part of an hour. Next it was time for a bit of late lunch. Nimaal took me to a local café and we had rice and curry, the food was delicious. Very chilli, but still delicious, and yes I did the 'eat with your hands' thing (I didn't want to look like a typical tourist with a fork!). We finally made our way up towards the mountain, we walked through the town to the other side and then started our accent. I have been carrying a pair of boots with me all the time I have been travelling and today was the first day I had worn them, 105 days later! I was ok for about 30 minutes then I started the 'Darth Vador' breathing thing and my body started to slow down. We had to stop a few times so I could rest (only five minutes or so), but Nimaal just kept on going (which is really good considering he had been on the drink last night and was smoking nearly all the way up). It took a good two hours to climb up, we couldn't go right to the top without a permit but we got to over 2,000m above sea level. The lack of exercise over the last few months was really showing, I felt like an old man by the time we got up there. We sat on a ledge and looked over the town of Newara Eliya, the view was stunning (see pics). I couldn't believe we had come that far up, but my legs were telling me we had! We sat there for about 45 minutes talking and Nimaal told me his Tsunami story. He described in graphic detail what happened to him on the day, and I could tell he was still disturbed by the memory of what had happened (if you want to know the whole story, this at the end of this page).

Needless to say the way down was much easier than the climb up, apart from when I fell through some trees! We got to a small ledge and Nimaal told me to be extra careful, but when I put my foot on some undergrowth, it gave way and I found myself free-falling through the trees. It was only for a few seconds and when I managed to grab hold of a branch, I looked up and realised it was probably around 10 mtrs that I had dropped. Nimaal called out for me to let go of the branch because the ground was not too far away, so I did just that. I was lucky I guess, I only have a few scratches on my legs and arms and it could have been a lot worse. We came down to the town and it was around 6pm by this time. Nimaal had told me he found someone I could share with, to go to Horton Plains (this is where Worlds End and Baker's Fall are). So it would only cost Rs1000 for the taxi and he might be able to still get me in for Rs30. I headed back to the hotel for an early night.

In the lounge area I met a couple from England called Mike and Tilly. They were teachers from Blackpool and had been on a 7 month trip around the world. They started off in the US, then went to New Zeeland, Australia then South East Asia, and after Sri Lanka were going to Kenya and then home. I sat and talked to them for ages, it was nice to be able to chat to them and we even had dinner together. There were also a couple there from Denmark who owned a hotel on the East coast of Lanka. I really wanted to meet someone from back home, so I made the most of it. We stayed up for ages talking so the early night went out the window. I have to get up at 5am tomorrow, and have asked for a wake up call, I think I'm going to need it.

This hotel is really nice and it's only Rs 1000 per night, so for the extra Rs 300 I am paying it's really worth it. The WARM shower is very nice and after a week of cold showers I'm making the most of it!

Nimaal's Tsunami Story.
Nimal met a couple who were staying in Newara Eliya just before Christmas. The guy was from England but living in Japan with his Japanese girlfriend. They wanted to go for a tour of the beaches in the south of Sri Lanka, so Nimaal organised a tour for them and went along with them in a taxi owned by a friend of his. They had been staying in a beachside bungalow for a few days and were due to make a move to another resort the day the Tsunami hit. The English guy had gone out snorkelling for the morning and Nimaal and the Japanese girl were getting stuff packed for the move. When the first wave came it filled the bungalow with water up to knee height, they went out onto the beach to see the sea water pull back away from the shore. At this point the local people were running out into the sea to pick up the fish that were left on the sand. When the second wave came it was huge, Nimaal and the girl held on to a palm tree and waited for the wave to pass. They were lucky to survive, but many others were not. They spent the next three weeks looking for the English guy, they went to every hospital and rescue centre in the area. They did not find him nor did they find his body. In three weeks the girl did not eat a thing and her health was suffering as a result. Nimaal described the aftermath of the Tsunami with dead bodies and debris everywhere. Eventually Nimaal managed to get the girl to the Japanese rescue centre and they got her repatriated to Japan. Nimaal said he found the months that followed very hard, he was drinking every day and couldn't face the sea again for at least 3 months. He still doesn't eat fish and was obviously getting disturbed by the recollection of events. He told me he has tried to call the Japanese girl but her mother say's she does not talk to anyone and just sits on her own in her room.

It was obviously a life changing event and one that rocked Nimaal to the very core. He say's he lives life for the day now and knows there are no guarantees in life, money and power are nothing in front of the forces of mother nature. One of the things that Nimaal said to me on our first meeting was, he wasn't concerned about money, he was more concerned about people. That's one of the things that sticks out in my mind about him, he is a people person and after hearing his devastating account of the Tsunami it's easy to see why he feels that way.
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