Day M302: So Then…

Wed 25.07.12: Another hiatus. I hope you don’t see this as cheating. As I did in Wewak, Papua New Guinea, I will be returning to exactly the spot where I left off before continuing The Odyssey Expedition. This cruise ship in October that will go INDIA > MALDIVES > SEYCHELLES > MADAGASCAR is a damn good plan: the best plan, and the safest. The ships that the Somali pirates go after these days have a) no armed guards and b) a low freeboard. I don’t know if a cruise ship will have armed guards on board, but as for the freeboard (the distance from the sea to the deck), on most cruise ships you’re talking something like 40 metres. Try scaling THAT, Fatbeard!   In the meantime, yes, I’m going home. And although I’m going back for a serious reason, it already sounds like it’s going…

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Day M300: Okay, Time Out!

Mon 23.07.12: There is no chance of me getting on board a cargo ship from Sri Lanka to Maldives. This is a rather unique situation and it’s taken 42 months and 198 countries to get to this point. In all other cases I’ve got permission to sail or there has been an alternative shipping company. But, please, my wonderful Odysseans DO NOT DESPAIR! Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so dismissive of fate in my last post. I’ve often equated The Odyssey Expedition to a real-life video game: elements of Pokémon (gotta catch ’em all!), Lemmings (avoid the traps, get these poor buggers home) and, more than anything, Monkey Island (I’ve got to get me a ship – by solving puzzles!). My favourite video game of all time (because it’s the best video game of all time) is, of course, Grim Fandango. If you’ve never heard of…

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Day M290: Odysseus Amongst The Sirens

Fri 13.07.12: In Homer’s Odyssey, our wily hero Odysseus had his men tie him to the ship's mast so he could hear the Siren’s song without dashing himself on the rocks. I’m fairly sure that the cruel and capricious Gods of Olympus are cooking up a similar ordeal for me here on the Isle of Serendipity. I meet a lot of people on the road and some are obviously better looking than others. Yes I’ve got a girlfriend, but even so, you can’t help but notice. Call it window shopping, whatever, we all do it, don’t look at me like that. But what’s making my head spin is the way that almost every female tourist I meet (Sri Lankan women being eerily absent from this country’s nightlife) is not just hot, but outrageously take-off-your-shoe-and-bang-it-on-the-table-whilst-howling-at-the-moon-hot. If it was one or two of these magnificent (but ultimately deadly)…

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Day M282: It’s Not Dark Yet, But It’s Getting There

Thu 05.07.12: The morning after the night before I jumped on the internet to find THE EMAIL. The email I had been waiting for, the email I had been dreading. CMA-CGM writing back to me with a decision. Will The Odyssey Expedition be over in August? Will the last three FINAL FRONTIERS tumble like dominoes? Or will I have to waste more time, more effort and take a completely unsuitable, dangerous and expensive method of getting to Fortress Maldives and Fortress Seychelles?? The news wasn’t good. The email was pleasant enough, but the answer is NO. I will have to waste more time, more effort and take a completely unsuitable, dangerous and expensive method of getting to Fortress Maldives and Fortress Seychelles. So that’s three no’s in a row. With no marinas in this country and a general lack of cruise ships, fishing boats and rubber…

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Days M279-281: That Sinking Feeling

Mon 02.07.12 – Wed 04.07.12: Anita offered me her couch to crash out on, but by couch I mean ‘one of the three bedrooms in her amazing apartment on the 27th floor of the Colombo Hilton’. I’d have happily stayed there all week, but I had a nagging angel on my shoulder telling me to go go go back to the Central Highlands and see Adam’s Peak and ‘Little England’. So Monday morning I said my tatty-byes and jumped the train over to Hatton, as in Derek ‘the c—t’ Hatton. My original intent was to press onto Nuwara Eliya, but I met some backpackers on the train from Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela, all young filmmakers attending film school in Florida. They were all set to scale Adam’s Peak tonight. Adam’s Peak is important to almost all the religions in Sri Lanka, for various reasons, and during…

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Days M277-278: The Ministry of Crab

Sat 30.06.12 – Sun 01.07.12: You know that the dates and the time I’ve spent in Sri Lanka tally pretty much exactly with that of Cape Verde three years ago? I remember giving serious consideration to packing all this in there and then, but my stubbornness and my inability to leave a puzzle half-solved led me to plod on regardless, and I’ve been plodding on ever since. I CAN’T LET CAPE VERDE WIN!!!!!! This morning, rose and shone, looking forward to see the Temple of the Tooth, the sacred place in Kandy where one of Buddhism’s most sacred relic can be found: a tooth of the Buddha himself. Now: there is some debate about this matter, not least because the Portuguese, being the miserable culturally insensitive sods that they were (and you thought the British were bad) took the tooth in the 1500s and burnt it…

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Days M272-276: The Cultural Triangle

Mon 25.06.12 – Fri 29.06.12: And so it came to pass that Monday morning involved waking up with a monster can’t-believe-we-lost-on-penalties-AGAIN!!! hangover and as I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, I hoped that nobody had taken any photos from the previous night’s drinking games, lest they appear on Facebook and ruin my future political ambitions. On Tuesday, a couple of backpackers – Marcia and Manisha – arrived at Sachal’s B&B. Marcia is a Canadian girl, looks like Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica. Manisha is from India but lives in Germany. Sachal, being Sachal, decided that we should all have another big dinner so I let it be known that biriyani and beer was on the cards to anyone foolish enough to turn up. Happily, we got a good turnout, with Marcia, Manisha, Natalie, Luisa, Elena, Marina, Tony, Subarji, a couple of randoms we picked up…

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Days M265-271: The Long and Shorts of It

Mon 18.06.12 – Sun 24.06.12: After returning to Negombo late on Sunday night, things were looking good. The ship leaving this weekend was going to take me to The Maldives, and then I’d be coming back here to Sri Lanka, so the ‘cultural triangle’ stuff could wait until my triumphant return from country number 199 (being The Maldives). On the Wednesday I got a message from my Unawatuna chums asking if I was up for a night out in Colombo. I had fancied going to the Irish pub there for the weekly pub quiz, but when I called up asking about it, the guy who answered the phone had no idea what I was on about. So around 8pm I met with Lily, Olivia, James, Christoph and Jules at the rather posh Galle Face hotel. They had a rather posh all-you-can-eat buffet for the incredible price…

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Days M258-264: Arrack Attack!

Mon 11.06.12 – Sun 17.06.12: After a quiet weekend in Negombo, I found myself in a bit of a rut. I wanted to go and explore the island, but also I didn’t want to leave the free internet/cheap beer convenience of Negombo: especially if I was to have more meetings with shipping-types this week. Sachal, being the hero that he is, invited me down to Galle, a fortress town in the south of the country. He was going down for the day with his business partner to look at a possible site for another hotel. We hopped in the car and sped down there. The first part of the journey – from Negombo to Colombo – was EXCRUCIATINGLY slow and the driving around these parts make Maureen from Driving School seem like Ayrton Senna. The second part, battling through Colombo itself, took up most of the…

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