Hello again folks and welcome back to my series about my 2016 trip to Sri Lanka which begins here, should you wish to read it in it’s entirety.
If you are finding my blog for the first time, a very warm welcome and if you have read the previous posts you’ll know that I was staying with my dear friend Treshi in the tiny village of Mattegoda which is near Kottawa about 13 miles South of central Colombo. Mattegoda is about as far off the tourist track, which was then so important to the Sri Lankan economy before it was destroyed and the loss of which is crippling the country economically, as you could imagine.
These were much happier times so if you wish to find out what happens next then please read on.
5th March, 2016.
In total I spent about six months in Sri Lanka on this trip and another the next year, large portions of which were in the village and I only once saw another white person who Treshi told me was a German lady who had a retirement home a little way out of town. As I have mentioned before, and to borrow a term that is not mine but I wish I was, “I like being in places where nobody looks like me”. OK, I know nobody looks much like me!
I had arrived a couple of days before after an overnight flight, spent a day more or less sleeping and another sorting out my mobile (cell) ‘phone for Sri Lankan use, had a quick look round Kottawa (the nearest sizeable town) and that was about it but Treshi had things planned for me, we were off on a trip!
In the days when such things were still possible Treshi was a couchsurfing host which she tells me she loved doing. I have been couchsurfing most of my adult life, purely by virtue of the fact I had missed the last train home or had had a couple of beers too many but it was always in friend’s places and never by using websites to do it. I have nothing against the concept at all, I just never got round to it, probably because I was afraid of disgracing myself in a stranger’s home!
As part of what turned out to be quite an extensive network round Colombo there were many couchsurfing hosts there, which I suppose is merely a reflection of how utterly hospitable Sri Lankans are. The plan was that some of the hosts had planned a weekend away in Kandy, a place I love, and had invited any of the couchsurfers they knew that were in the country. It was to turn out brilliantly but it started far too early!
I have already mentioned how long it can take to get into Colombo the mere 13 miles from Mattegoda although it is not too bad in the middle of the night and I know it was the middle of the night as the first image of the day was at 0511 and we were already in Fort Station. A load of us met outside and when we were all more or less gathered we headed into the eating house I have mentioned in posts before.
As you can see, it is the most unprepossessing place you can imagine. Compare and contrast, if you will, with the champagne and oyster bar in St. Pancras in London. A world of difference and yet, at five in the morning with the plate of snacks like you see in the image, a very passable coffee (there is no alcohol here) and there were many more plates after this one, I could not have been happier.
We had a few travellers with us but there were more who had already passed through Colombo and were meeting us in Kandy at the hostel. Suitably fed and watered we made the train in good order and didn’t even lose anyone!
I have mentioned before that for anything longer than purely commuter train travel in Sri Lanka you need to book as far ahead as possible, often a week or more for one of the “tourist” trains but Treshi had got me a ticket beforehand so we were all good to go. As you can see from the image of our bags on the luggage rack, we had all adopted the travel light idea and nobody even had a full Bergen (rucksack), it was all essentials and let’s go.
I just love trains as you probably know by now, more specifically Asian trains and even more microscopically specifically Sri Lankan trains so I was in my absolute glory, I could not have been happier.
The scenery as you head up into central Sri Lanka is so beautiful and I could happily have just sat and gazed out the window but there was much conversation to be had, much laughter and yet another brilliant travel experience. I had been here three days and already it was turning into one of the best trips of my life. As the image shows, I was getting right into the spirit of it all and I hadn’t even had a beer yet!
We made Kandy within shouting distance of our posted arrival time which is never a given in that country and I was more or less waiting to be told what was happening next. I was told we were walking into town, having a coffee (or tea, this being Sri Lanka) and a re-group before heading to the hostel. Fine by me, I was still capable of a good day’s walk then. I should explain that Kandy station is in the commercial area of town which is just slightly out of the centre which lies around the lake.
We wandered into town and, as far as I know we didn’t lose anyone until someone decided a coffee was called for. Suits me. The venue decided upon was the Delice de France and here is the report.
Not local but very good at what it does.
“I am not sure whether this is a coffeeshop or snack bar and I suppose the Delice de France in Kandy (part of the international chain of that name and not a local ripoff) does serve food but it is mainly of the sandwich and patisserie variety. I must say some of the cakes and pastries did look exceptionally good although I didn’t sample any but those in the party that did pronounced them to be very good.
There is also a limited range of soups, salads and hot dishes on offer. I can only guess that the menu headings of “soupe et salads” and “plats chauds” are merely part of the corporate branding which was reinforced by a large poster beside me of a Dutch lady learning to cook bread in Paris so she could “bring the taste of real French bread back to Amsterdam” or some similar nonsense.
The reason that our fair sized party was there at all was that we had just detrained from the 0655 express train from Colombo and we could not book into our accommodation at the Kandy Youth Hostel until a couple of hours later. Rather more to my annoyance was that the pub known so imaginatively as “The Pub” a few doors down the street had not yet opened it’s doors. It was decided that a quick coffee was in order so in we went.
The decor is international coffeshop chic (if such can be called chic), spotlessly clean and certainly comfortable enough to sit down and have a chat over our coffees and whatever else. Even though we were, as noted, a reasonable sized group we had no problem finding enough room adjacent to each other as the place seemed to be pretty much deserted.
I found this a little strange as it was a Saturday morning and the streets were pretty crowded with locals and the travellers who I suspect make up the major portion of the clientele here.
Service was friendly and fairly prompt and there seemed to be a goodly amount of English spoken although much of the ordering was done in Sinhala by our Sri Lankan hosts. There was one slight glitch when I was served a capuccino instead of the Americano I had ordered but that may as easily been down to my friend ordering rather than the fault the barista. If that is the worst problem I have to face in what is left of my life then I shall count myself a happy man and I can drink a capuccino with the best of them!
I have to say that when I had battered my way (not to mention my moustache) through the foam, the coffee was very good. I cannot remember where they source it from but I did see a few Fairtrade notices about the place so that gets my vote every time. Obviously this comes at a price and Cafe de Delice is certainly not the cheapest option in town.
Whilst coffeeshops are never going to be my preferred haunts (except in the Netherlands where the term takes on a whole different meaning!), this one is as good as any and I must admit to being tempted to go back and try one of those wonderful looking cakes!
Suitably relaxed and refreshed, we started out for the Hostel and, I have to tell you it was all uphill! Under a blazing noon tropical sun it was a bit of a slog but I set out with the rest to The Kandy Youth Hostel and here is what I wrote.
An excellent budget choice.
“I know it may seem a little strange that I am writing tips for hostels in my late 50’s but I still use them regularly and absolutely enjoy it. I am obviously not alone in this as I recently read an article about a guy that sold his house (in Australia, I believe), put his kit in storage and has been travelling the world for years now staying exclusively in hostels. He is either in his late 70’s or early 80’s so I reckon there is hope for me yet.
In my youth, hostels were called Youth Hostels and certainly the hostels in the countries of the UK where I first started using them had an age limit which, if memory serves, was 26. These restrictions have largely disappeared now and being well over twice the formerly stipulated age I still use them.
The thing about hostels is that you have to be a certain type of traveller to enjoy them. Whilst some do have private rooms the chances are you will be sleeping in a dorm with complete strangers and using common bathroom and cooking facilities. I am quite happy with this as I was in the Forces and it is second nature to me. I also like to think that I know how to behave in communal living situations.
After an express train journey up from Colombo and a leisurely coffee we took off to walk up to the Kandy City Hostel which is where all 14 or so of us had been booked in (we had further arrivals later).
This is where the problem started. We walked past the main (artificial) lake, where there was a brilliant lizard then we walked past the second lake and then we walked some more. When we had finished doing that we walked further. I like walking and do a lot of it at home but in the punishing heat (I was not properly acclimatised at that point) and up a fairly steep incline with my back choosing it’s moment to start playing up, I was pretty exhausted and sore by the time I got there even though I was only carrying minimal kit.
I was later to discover that there is a bus service running right outside the door if you are on a very tight budget or a metered tuk-tuk from town won’t really break the bank if you want to spend a few extra rupees. Believe me, if you are a long-term traveller and humping a large Bergen (rucksack) or are even just getting on in years like myself, you may well thank me for this piece of information.
Following a few ‘phone calls en route we were met at the entrance by what I suspect may be the owner / manager or whatever. He ushered us all inside with typical Sri Lankan hospitality and sat us down at the large table in the communal area where someone had very thoughtfully provided a few bottles of water which were much appreciated I can tell you.
As I say, all the arrangements had been made in advance by my Sri Lankan friends and so I am not sure what the check in procedures are for the traveller but I did not even have to show my passport. This could have been due to the fact that my friend had all my details anyway, so it may have been pre-arranged.
We sat around for a little while as we had arrived before the designated check-in hour and the rooms were still being serviced. We were to find out the next morning that they are not really very strict about enforcing check-out time and some of our group were left to sleep off a fairly solid night’s partying whilst the staff cleaned round them. Another nice touch.
In fairness, it was no great hardship to sit around in the downstairs area (pictured) which is open plan to include the well-equipped kitchen as well as the afore-mentioned table with lots of chairs to sit down and have a chat. It even has a small library on a one to one swap basis which is unlike the usual two for ones in hostels. Altogether very comfortable.
In respect of the kitchen and early mornings, a simple breakfast is avilable free of charge if you don’t fancy doing it yourself. I rarely take breakfast and wasn’t up nearly eary enough so I cannot really comment on that.
When it came time to go to the room it was a very pleasant surprise. Spotlessly clean and with an ensuite bathroom (again similarly spotless) there were eight bunk beds and a few singles. I picked a bunk and threw myself down on it to try and ease the pain in my back and found it to be very comfortable not to mention being long enough to take my 6’5″ frame which is not always the case with hostel beds.
Not only that but each bunk comes with a little individual fan and mosquito net should the traveller use such things although I personally don’t bother.
There is a smaller room to the rear of the building and a private double on the ground floor. I should mention that the front rooms face a fairly main road but road noise is not a problem as it quietens down to virtually nothing at night.
When we re-grouped downstairs before heading into town I made the very welcome discovery that the kitchen has a fridge well stocked with water, soft drinks and, most importantly, beer! A large can of Lion lager (my preferred brand anyway) runs to Rs. 300 which is about what you’d pay in a bar in town or even a bit less. Of course, you are totally at liberty to bring your own back from town and store it in the communal fridge. It is all done on an honour system where you write down what you have had and pay when you check out.
Speaking of the fridge, I must say that the kitchen area was very clean and tidy and seemed to be well-equipped although we didn’t actually use it.
When we got into town we all split up as various people wanted to do various things so a prescriptive tour wasn’t really what was required. It has been very truly said about VT meets , although this was technically a couchsurfers meet with only a very few VTer’s, that trying to organise VT members is like trying to herd cats and it appears couchsurfers are much the same.
Let’s be honest, the way most of us travel indicates that we are pretty independently minded although I do not for one moment decry (as some travellers seem to take delight in doing) those who wish to see places on an organised trip with a guide etc., it is just not for me. Chacun a son gout, as I believe the French have it.”
I’ll tell you about the rest of the hostel later on in this already extensive post so after we have had a look round Kandy so, if you want to wish to grab a brew (Sri Lankan tea obviously!) or something stiffer, please take a break now. Believe me, there are a lot of days, even weeks later in this series that contain nothing!
When we hit town most of the group wanted to go and see some of the sights / sites, some wished to visit certain sites for religious reasons as Kandy is one of the holiest sites in Sri Lanka, if not in all of Buddhism, and that’s fine with me. I knew the town and decided to strike out on my own, arranging to meet the others back at the hostel later. Happy days.
I took myself off in search of beer and here are my original notes again.
You’ll find me in The Pub!
For readers that know me, the title of this tip may seem merely to be a statement of my rather dissolute lifestyle and indeed for many years my “tagline” on a website I contributed to was “Where’s the bar”?
It is no secret that I like a drink or ten and, before anyone jumps on me, I do not encourage heavy or problem drinking and have seen at very close range the damage it can do. However, I do enjoy a tipple and actively seek out pubs and bars wherever I travel. I would be interested to know what proportion of my tips here actually relate to that topic.
In this case the title does not refer to the generic pub as referred to by Britons, Australians and many other nationalities besides but rather to the rather unimaginatively named The Pub in the centre of Kandy on Sri Dalada Veediya which is effectively the main street.
Like so many other bars in Sri Lanka it is on the first floor which is great for watching the abundant street life below from the pleasant and airy balcony but which renders it totally inaccessible for the mobility impaired. I realise this information is only going to be relevant to a small fraction of travellers but I include it as I think it is important. It is above a very decent bakery which I believe is all part of the same operation.
Having negotiated the steep enough stairs you go through a large room which has plenty of seating, large screen TVs and the like and obviously the bar. I should say that I have only ever visited here in daytime and have never seen anyone actaully sitting in here as everyone heads for the balcony I mentioned above. I am reliably informed that it does get quite crowded on weekend evenings.
On a Saturday afternoon I was surprised at how quiet it was and easily found a seat where I was attended on by a friendly and well turned out waiter with a good command of English. He presented me with a drinks menu which has a good selection of local and imported beers, wines, spirits etc.
He also offered me the food menu, which I declined as I was eating later but from previous visits I remember to be fairly extensive. I know that the rather well-heeled (and frighteningly attractive) young couple sitting at the next table seemed to be going at their well-presented dishes with a will. I have never actually eaten here myself but again I am reliably informed that the food is very good.
I mentioned the “beautiful people” sitting at the next table and this is very much what The Pub is about. The clientele is exclusively expats, travellers at the slightly upper scale of the market and what is obviously the top end of Kandyan society. This is very much a place to be seen. You don’t see a lot of $20 a day backpackers here and the reason is probably that they do know how to charge. It is not exorbitant but it is certainly more than other equally classy places I know in Kandy.
I do not actully know how old the building is but if it is not genuinely colonial period then they have done an amazing job of faking it and that is what the extra few rupees are for, along with the location, service and so on. I travel on what I would say is a medium budget and I don’t mind spending a little. Everything is relative and in a very decent place like this I was still paying about half for my beer what I would pay at home in a very standard pub in London.
Speaking of beer, they offer it (draught) in three different sized vessels, although there are plenty of bottled options as well. The small one was just the usual couple of mouthsful and the large one looked like a “decent swallow” as we say where I come from but I was awaiting a call from my friends to arrange a potential meeting and so was unsure of how much time I had so I thought the medium one would fit the bill nicely. Don’t ask me the exact volumes as I really cannot remember.
The waiter disappeared only to reappear a couple of minutes later and re-present the menu with a very apologetic explanation that I could not have the medium sized beer as they had broken the glass! The glass? Singular? In a place this size? That took me aback a little but not a problem. Unusually for me I erred on the side of caution and ordered a small one.
The small beer arrived promptly, lovely and cold, obviously well-kept and in a chilled glass, but it was just a couple of mouthsful as I mentioned above so that didn’t last long. Time for a rethink and so the large one was called for. Well, that was a proper beer, served in a customised ceramic tankard that was in itself pretty heavy and rendered the whole operation a two-handed job just to be on the safe side! Happy days and I set to it with a will. I have included images of both sizes with my cigarette packet to give a sense of scale.
I did have another one of my inevitably doomed efforts at being “arty” by taking images of Kandy street life through an old colonial verandah fence but it didn’t really work, did it? I’d just love to use a camera properly.
I would happily have gone for another (the meeting having been confirmed for much later on) but, like nearly all the bars in Kandy it closes between 1400 – 1700. Naturally, I know the one place in town where you can legally have a drink, I seem to be good at that! Pausing only to use the spotless facilities I took myself off in to the heat of a Kandy afternoon in search of further refreshment.
I have spoken at length (as always) about the many qualities of The Pub and I have never had a negative experience here, the place is spot on and yet, for some indefinable reason I have never really warmed to it even after several visits. I stress that this is merely a personal gut feeling and the traveller should certainly not be put off visiting The Pub by it. Perhaps I am just not cut out to hang round with the moneyed classes! Visit yourself and make your own mind up.
Certainly recommended although it is not really my gig.
There is obviously a certain radius these prohibitions apply so I took a 15 minute walk which brought me to a place I knew of and standby for another lengthy review. Don’t ever say I didn’t warn you, it was a long day! This place is, for whatever reason, be it distance, the need for foreign tourism or merely paying off the local police commissioner (not unknown in these parts), allowed to open during the “forbidden hours”. Here’s my original report.
“I have mentioned elsewhere (i.e. above, these are my original notes) there is a licensing restriction which generally prohibits the sale of alcohol between the hours of 1400 – 1700. I am fully aware that when I travel I should respect local customs and laws and I do so to the best of my ability but I must admit that this particular piece of legislation presents a bit of a problem for me.
“OK, that was The Pub closed for the afternoon and I was still thirsty so thankfully I had a back-up plan and I knew where to go for a perfectly legal drinking at this hour. The prohibition on the sale of alcohol in central Kandy is to do with the proximity to the Temple of the Tooth which I believe is the third holiest site in one particular type of Buddhism and that’s fair enough, I always respect local customs.
One of a kind and up in the air.
The heat in Sri Lanka can be brutal with the early afternoon being the hottest time and therefore when I am most likely to require a reviving Lion Lager.
All is not lost, however, as due to some legal quirk just about every major town and city has at least one place that is legally entitled to stay open in the afternoon. It will come as no surprise to those that know me either personally, virtually or both that I have developed a knack of seeking them out and in Kandy the establishment to be in the “dry” hours is the Stags Head pub on the top floor of the Casamara Hotel.
I had been directed here by a barman in another local bar and eventually found the place after a bit of trial and error and with the assistance of a few friendly locals. I had actually walked past it a couple of times as there is no obvious exterior sign for the hotel. The tip here is to look up and head for what is easily the tallest building in downtown Kandy. More of that later.
I went into the reception area of what was apparently a fairly top end hotel and asked the charming lady on reception if the bar was open to non-residents and was informed in faultless English that indeed it was whereupon she let a yell across the foyer which brought not one but two immaculately dressed bellboys who very politely ushered me to a lift at the back. All very classy and I cannot remember how many decades it is since I saw an attended lift but a bit unecessary as I can actually operate a lift myself – I’m a big boy now!
Well, I can operate a lift but that does not tell the whole story. In what could well be a comment upon myself and which will probably only be appreciated by Britons, the lift doesn’t go all the way to the top floor! We got as far as it went which was about ten floors if memory serves and one of the young lads very politely pointed me in the direction of a flight of stairs to the left, the floor we were on very evidently being residential.
I wandered up them to be met by a set of glass doors with an A4 computer generated sign which was laminated and attached to the door and declared the premises to be the Stags Head pub and it was open 1000 – 2300. This was at complete odds with the then official website (which I checked later) and which suggests opening hours of 1800-2359. I can assure the reader that as of March 2016 it is very much open in the afternoon, they really should sort the website.
The name Stag’s Head Pub is very obviously a nod to the English pub system but they have thankfully not gone for the “Olde English Pub” look complete with faux half-timbering and all the rest. It just never works, not even in Britain. Instead it presents itself exactly as what it is which is a clean, tidy upscale hotel bar with well turned out staff (bowties and all), a fairly minimalist decor and furnishings and a thankfully very efficient aircon system as it was a very hot day!
On a Satuday afternoon I was very surprised to find the place just about empty as there were only three other people there. Given it’s monopoly position on the sale of alcohol I would have expected many more but I suppose all the foreign travellers were out doing foreign travelling things (of which there are many in this wonderful town) and the locals were going shopping or painting the spare room or whatever it is that locals do here.
As well as being well presented the barman I spoke to was obviously well educated in the English language so we indulged in a bit of light conversation. My beer (bottled) was presented promptly and beautifully cold and with a chilled glass and it’s successors were equally efficiently dealt with. Absolutely no complaints on the service front.
Smoking is a bit of an odd affair in Sri Lanka with some places permitting it and some requiring you to go outside and this is one of the latter. There are two small balconies each with a few tables and seats and this is the real clincher why you should visit this place apart from the “afternoon drinker” designation.
These are certainly the best views of the city and I do hope that my images do it justice. OK, the balconies face the main city rather than the Temple of the Tooth / lake area but they are still very impressive. They even let a scruff like me in!
Certainly you pay a small premium for location, service and so on but it is by no means exorbitant for one of the obviously better places in town. A few beers down the road and I had to be down the road as well so I bid farewell to my barman friend and made my way back down to ground level.”
That was a good hit (my Sri Lankan friends could not later believe I could drink in Kandy in the afternoon except in some backstreet shebeen until I showed them the images)! I told you, 600 yards through concrete, you cannot hide alcohol frome me, much as my surgeons would wish otherwise!
Right, I needed a bite to eat even though regular readers will know that I have the appetite of a sparrow, it is bizarre. I am obssessed with cooking programmes on TV and I have more cookbooks than you could wave a stick at. I adore cooking and all the nuances of it, it is just the eating that doesn’t really appeal to me. I would quite happily stand in a kitchen and cook food all day, I just don’t particularly want to eat it and I don’t think I am going to need a diet plan any time soon!
I set out round Kandy in search of a quick bite and what I found was the Victory Hotel and here is the contemporaneous report as always.
I thought I knew them all!
On my first trip to Sri Lanka in 2014 I had spent a decent amount of time in Kandy and thought I had a reasonable handle on what was going on there and so it was with something of an element of surprise that I stumbled on the Victory Hotel on my return trip in 2016. If not for eating I certainly thought I had all the drinking places covered but apparently not.
I chanced upon it one day and popped in for a drink in what was an industry standard Sri Lankan watering hole i.e. fairly dark, TV playing with the sound down and not a female in sight. This is all about par for the course. I went there one evening and unusually decided to eat as I really have no appetite in warm climates. Come to think of it, I have no appetite in cold climates either!
Service was efficient and friendly and my usual Lion lager was served cold in a chilled glass, so far so good. I called for the menu and there were all the usual Sri Lankan suspects on there, nothing overly out of the ordinary but still extensive enough. As is my wont I had situated myself where I could see the semi-open kitchen which was spotless. I always find an open or semi-open kitchen to be a good sign as it indicates that the establishment has nothing to hide and I do rather like to watch cooks at work!
I opted for a small dish of devilled pork which I watched the cook prepare but declined the obligatory rice which is the absolute basis of every meal in Southern Asia. This caused a slightly puzzled expression from the waiter but not a problem. Sri Lankans genuinely cannot fathom the concept of eating local cuisine without rice.
The waiter had a little English but certainly not extensive and I had to go through the usual ritual of informing him by way of international mime (at which I seem to excel, about the only thing I do excel at) that hot was OK and that I can stand chilli. I am sure that for all the best intentioned reasons chefs all over Asia tend to lay off the spice a bit if serving a Westerner and I applaud their consideration. I am sure that some if not all have had the unfortunate experience of burnng the mouth off an unsuspecting traveller but I can handle chilli and I love hot food.
By whatever means the message was duly conveyed and the offering I got was certainly spicy enough to please even me albeit that, again in usual Asian style, the waiter did hang around my table, presumably to see if I was going to fall off the seat screaming and clutching my throat. My meal was well cooked, very tasty and just exactly what I needed at that point to soak up some of the beer.
Midway through eating a local musician who had appeared earlier with what was obviously his busking kit took to playing a few tunes so that was a bonus. Had I had the guitar with me I would have been tempted to join him. It was a pleasant distraction. The attached website indicates that there is live music every Friday night, specifically calypso which I find an odd musical style for this region but I am certainly not judging it!
Additionally, there is a happy hour of cut price drinks every evening between 1700 and 1800. The website also indicates that there is a separate restaurant upstairs but if you just want a quick meal with no frills then the downstairs bar is perfectly adequate. Certainly the food is good enough here so the posher alternative may be worth considering for a special occasion. Prices were about standard for central Kandy and I am quite happy to recommend this place.
I need to apologise for the quality these images but I mentioned that it was fairly dark and I really do not like the intrusion of using flash in a restaurant or indeed many other places for that matter.”
Treshi had texted me saying they were all back in the hostel and she was hungry and this is one of the minor drawbacks of that very fine establishment, there is literally nothing locally to provide food or even a small shop to self-cater should you wish. I found a “Pizza Hut” and I put this in inverted commas as I believe that globalised franchise probably knew nothing of this, I do hate globalisation!
I bought a pizza, don’t ask me what it was as I have no idea and I have some weird ideas about pizza, my favourite being banana, chilli, garlic and tuna! Don’t ask, it is a long story. I had my trusty charioteer i.e. tuk-tuk driver waiting outside and so it was a much quicker journey back up that hill to the hostel than the slog we had had earlier whilst walking.
I wandered into the hostel, remembering the notice (as shown) to leave my footwear and my worries outside. No problem, I could do that. I found the downstairs communal area completely empty as was the reception desk but I could hear music, or at least what passes for music these days! OK, let’s go and investigate.
I went up to the dorms which were as empty as a hermit’s address book (apologies to the writers of Blackadder for that line) but the music was getting louder. I was in pizza delivery boy mode, yet another strange thing I can add to my CV, I suppose and had a mission and so, following the sound I climbed a very dodgy set of stairs which brought me to a roof terrace where all my friends were obviously having a great time. It was a serious party.
As I have mentioned, we were now augmentd in numbers by other couchsurfing travellers who had apparently turned up throughout the afternoon to the extent that we effectively occupied the whole hostel. Treshi tells me as of 2021 (I do like to keep things correct) that we numbered about 20 when everyone got there and it was a complete blast.
I have to say that that the musical selection was not what I would have chosen, it was far too young and I was easily the oldest man there by probably 20 years or more and yet I could not have felt more at home had you put me back in the womb. There I was with a bunch of young people having a good time and they weren’t even laughing at me behind my back like the obligatory “old fart” at the party, the old uncle that turns up and nobody really wants. Several of them came to chat to me, asking me about where I had travelled and so on.
It was a brilliant night although I did have to draw the line when asked to dance several times by some extremely attractive young ladies. With my total lack of co-ordination on the dance floor and even in bare feet I suspect there would have been broken toes caused by my clumsy size 11’s. Believe me, ladies, it was nothing personal, it was for your own good!
I am in serious danger of getting on a hobby horse now and ranting about travel and how it broadens the mind and all that but, having sat on that roof with those young people, any of whom I was old enough to have fathered, I knew I was where I should be. Take from that what you will.
I have no idea what time it all finished at but I know it was none too early, I suspect it was when the beer ran out and there was no chance of any more at that hour. I know for a fact that one or two didn’t even make it off the roof that night as there were a few empty beds in the dorm but the roof had plenty of comfy places to crash.
That is one of the lovely things about warm climates, you can sleep outside and perhaps some day I’ll write a post about all the rooftops I have slept on but that is for another time. Being a “trained soldier” on the field of partying battle I did manage to make my bed and slept the sleep of the just, for which I should probably be prosecuted under the Trades Description Act.
If you want to know what happens next or even if we managed to get everyone back to Colombo the next day then you’ll just have to stay tuned and spread the word.