After our week in the jungle we traveled back to Colombo for the night, and the next day hot footed it up to Jaffna.
Jaffna is right at the top of Sri Lanka on the North West coast, it is slowly opening up to tourism after the war, as a westerner you will be in the minority, and if you go on the train you will have an extremely numb bum as it took us about 8 hours, as a slight delay as someone fell off the train .... more of that later.
Considering jaffna was a war zone for a number of years. It is still a relatively green city with lots of trees and palms around, there are also a fair few bombed out buildings and bullet holes around the place, that leave you in no doubt that what must have gone on here was pretty grim for the local population.
Jaffna now is peaceful once again and the streets have many wandering cows, brightly painted houses and huge Hindu temples with amazing frescos and colours.
There is a large Dutch fort that is being rebuilt and pieced back together once again, having been blown to bits by the army. Wanderingaround the ruins is fun, if a little sad when you read it was perfectly preserved prior to the war.
We visited many Hindu temples as they make a nice change from Buddhist ones, and there were quite a few church's as well, though most of them were boarded up.
In the afternoon we consumed a lot of ice cream from a pretty decent ice cream parlour, it's not a chocolate fudge glory but it's not bad for Srilanka. I recommend the chocolate out of all the flavours, it was also the less luminous of the colours available.
A scooter is the best way to get around, (sorry Lisa) and once you realise that there are no rules, only organised chaos to driving then your palms get a little less sweaty and you go with the flow, in what every direction that maybe.
So we spent 2 days traveling around on a moped and discovered beautiful lagoons and palm fringed beaches.
We went through deserted villages, battle scared and burnt out areas and island causeways across the peninsula. Everywherewe went, people waved and said hello, well after they got over the shock of seeing two white females on a scooter they did.
What I have learnt:
Srilankan train travel is a great way to see the country and is unbelievable cheap, there are a few rules that you need to follow in order to have a successful trip.
Rule number 1
Take no prisoners when getting on the train, stick your elbows out and shove like a quarter back. Everyone is fair game in the quest to get a seat, wether they are old / young / infirm or a monk these people are crazy and to have any hope of securing a space for your bum for the next 8 hours you have to fight like there is no tomorrow.
Rule number 2
Large Srilankan ladies will think nothing of sitting on you or squeezing themselves into the tiniest space next to you, when I say small space think wafer thin mint! You on the other hand are face planted into the window, if this happens just move when you get chance as no amount of huffing or puffing (jac) is going to shift them, there is no personal boundaries there is only potential seat space.
Rule number 3
Do not dangle your legs / arms or any other parts of your anatomy outside the train when passing stations, otherwise you may end up being smacked off the train by the platform, this happened to a very unfortunate Srilankan on our train. We were two mile up the track, before the train could stop. They found him unconscious in a field with 2 very broken legs.
Plastic and rubbish are everywhere in Sri Lanka, there is no such thing as a "keep Srilanka tidy campaign" all along train tracks, roadsides and any available space of green grass there will be a whole heap of shit that has been discarded by the locals. If it doesn't go in their mouth it goes out the window this is quite a sad and sorry way to treat your country and the environment.
Even worse than the roadsides are the beaches, we have passed many a local beach that was at least a foot deep in discarded plastic bags, bottles and other crap along the shoreline. The government in part is to blame, as they do not have adequate garbage collection and treatment of waste, however it's not just the governments fault, everyone that throws stuff out of moving trains, buses and boats is responsible, and if people don't start taking responsibility then this green tropical island will become a stinking putrid tip.
Rant offer - apologies normal humour will soon reappear.