7/3/18: The Impossible Beer Quest (Sri Lanka)

Adrian and I woke up and went for a swim in the ocean around 7:30. We had the whole beach to ourselves, which was a lovely contrast to yesterday’s overcrowded madness. The ocean was beautiful with the morning sun reflecting on the water.

I loved how calm and serene the early-morning water was as well. The waves weren’t so vicious, so it was easy to just glide around and swim for a bit. It was also really nice to float on my back, close my eyes and just let the waves take me wherever they wanted. I felt so present and grateful, ready to start the day refreshed and energized.

On our way back to the guesthouse, we ran into Yogi, the tuk-tuk driver we had met the day before on the beach. He asked us where we were going.

“Dambulla, by bus,” we told him.
“Oh, ok. I haven’t eaten dinner or breakfast. I have no food and no clients,” was his response.

He then asked us if we wanted to take a tuk tuk to Dambulla. We told him no, since the bus would be about 1/40th of the cost of a tuk tuk.

It’s annoying that he told us about how he “has no food and no clients” just to make us feel guilty about not wanting to take his tuk-tuk. As if it’s our responsibility to make his living. I’m not sure if I’m a cold-hearted bitch for thinking this way, but I just don’t think it was right of him to do that. Plus, it’s the worst possible sales strategy ever. “Pity me and take my service! I’m BEGGING YOU!” It’s just not endearing.

We got breakfast at the guesthouse— this time it was some sort of Sri Lankan baked bread and eggs. I gave my eggs to Adrian and ate the bread with my almond butter and bananas.

We were originally going to take the public bus to Trincomalee, but our guesthouse owner was willing to take us on his tuk-tuk for 600. Even though it was still a lot of money compared to the bus, we decided to take him up on it since we had our big backpacks.

We got to the bus station and asked for the next bus to Dambulla.

The bus was already there, so we hopped on and got a seat. It was freaking hot on the bus— there was no AC and no wind since the bus wasn’t moving yet. So we just sat there, stewing in sweat and slowly suffocating from the thick air.

The bus left some 45 minutes after we initially got on, and we were in Dambulla 2.5 hours later.

Our guesthouse, Hideaway Garage, was only a mile away according to Maps.me, so we decided to walk there instead of getting a tuk-tuk.

About 20 minutes later, I checked my maps again. We were still a mile away.

I was already pretty tired from carrying all my bags, so we decided to get a tuk-tuk to take us the rest of the way.

Our guesthouse turned out to be quite hidden. We first had to turn down a small dirt track, follow that road for a bit, go around a lake, and then go down a few more small dirt roads before finally reaching it.

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It was really cute, though. The whole front area is a large garden, and in the back there are a few tables and couches for lounging.

The owner wasn’t there yet, so one of the other employees checked us in.

Our room was pretty massive, and we had our own little balcony area. I was loving it!

We sat on the balcony and ate our leftover dinner (vegetable rice for me).

We researched a bit about the surrounding area, and made a plan to rent bicycles from the guesthouse and ride to the temple cave nearby.

We rested until 4 pm, which was when our bicycles were ready.

When I tried to get on mine, however, I realized that it was much too big for me. I couldn’t reach the ground with my feet, even when I stood between the front wheel and the saddle.

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Bike fail

There was no way for me to find balance on the bike, so we decided to ditch them and just walk to the temple. It was only a mile away so it wouldn’t take that long anyway.

The walk over was nice— we just had to follow some dirt trails and we were there. We saw a casual ancient ruin on the way. There was no sign around it, no indication that it was an archeological wonder. But it was obvious that it was centuries, if not thousands, of years old.

We had to climb a few stairs to get to the temple, which is known for its elaborate artwork made thousands of years ago.

It was indeed really beautiful. The walls were covered in old paintings, and I was shocked at how well-maintained it all was. The buddhas were also very old, but also very beautiful. I really prefer old temples to modern ones. For some reason modern ones just don’t have the same vibe. They feel too try-hardy and sterile.

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Next to the temple was a viewpoint area. We walked to the top of the rocks where there were fewer people and chilled for a bit. There were a bunch of monkeys in the area, of course. My fear of monkeys is still quite strong, but I think I’m getting better.

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This dog tho
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Monkey overload

We walked back down around 6 and went to the town area for dinner.

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Golden Buddha

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We went into a random restaurant and ordered vegetable curry and rice.

We were given two huge plates of rice, plus 4 different curries to share. I’m not really sure what they were. The only ones I could recognize were pumpkin and eggplant.

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The curries were ok— not the best. Some were a bit too salty. Also, I’m pretty sure the yellow one was made of fish, so it wasn’t even vegetarian.

We wanted to get beers to drink on our balcony, so we set off to find a shop that sold some.

We walked in the direction of our guesthouse since we knew there was a big grocery store, Food City, just outside of town.

Once we got there, however, they told us they don’t sell beer.

We decided to walk back to town. We walked by another grocery store and I asked the security guard if they sold beer.

He told me no, so I asked if he knew anywhere nearby that sold it. He told me there was a store about 50 meters away that had beer.

50 meters passed and we didn’t see any sort of store with beer.

I walked up to a couple tuk-tuk drivers who were just chilling, and asked if they knew of a place that sold beer nearby.

One of the guys told me there was one 200 meters away, a place called “Garbage City.”

So onward we went, hoping we’d see something 200 meters away.

But 200 meters came and went and we still didn’t have beer.

Adrian was about to give up and go back home, but I figured it was worth asking one more person. We had made it this far, and I already felt like an alcoholic anyway, so there was nothing to lose.

I asked another tuk-tuk guy if he knew about Garbage City, and he gave me a blank stare.

I tried again.

“Do you know somewhere that sells beer?”
“Oh, you want beer! There’s a supermarket 200 meters away. Called Food City.”

Why does everyone say it’s 200 meters away??! And how did I confuse garbage with food??

Food City was the same grocery store chain as the one we were at before, the one that didn’t have beer. I was skeptical that this one would have beer, but when we walked in we saw a sign pointing to the second floor for liquor. We walked up, and saw a bunch of people queued up. We realized it was the liquor/beer line. Each single person had to line up behind a counter and ask for what they wanted. I’d never seen anything like it before. I guess Sri Lanka has strict regulations on the distribution of alcohol.

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The queue

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Beer quest over, we walked back to the guesthouse happy.

Once we were on the small dirt path leading to the guesthouse, we saw a bunch of fireflies. It was actually pretty romantic. They were surrounding a big tree, lighting up the area like little sparks. We stopped walking and stood around for a few moments to appreciate the beauty.

We sat on our balconies, drank our Lions, and chatted. There were a lot of stars in the sky, and I kept gazing up at them. I felt so lucky. I want to soak this life I’m living in as much as I can before it’s gone.

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