Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I arrived Sunday morning, the flights were fine, Dubai airport very nice, I didn't get lost. It was nice to walk out of the secure area and see a sign with my name on it. When I got to the hotel they informed me that their rates had gone up $20 per night (to $50)  - my first "oh crap" moment.  I decided to stay there that night and look for another hotel for the rest of the week. Although it was air conditioned, it was also hermetically sealed and smelled with mildew so finding somewhere was not such a bad thing.

Out for my first walk I stood trying to cross the road (no street lights to be seen) when a group of young people came up, one of the girls touched me on the arm and waved for me to come with them.  I quickly learned to tag along with other people crossing the road.

As I was walking down the main street, a guy come up to me and tells me he`s going to the temple to see the elephants dance, it`s a festical.  How lucky am I, I remember Lonely Planet talking about this trick. Apparently there are elephants at the temple every day, it`s no big deal.  I decline to go with him but he does direct me to a less expensive hotel.  I thank him, he asks me to meet him in the restaurant-bar next door at 2 pm the next.  I say no thank you.

Hotel Nippon, probably 100 years old, with that old world charm where they still keep the keys in a key box on the wall and the doors are 4 feet wide. When I went out for the day and came back they said I forgot to leave my key - it's the only one to the room they have.  The room is very clean and they are very sweet, ask me what I'm doing each day and give me directions to everywhere.

Haven't been up to much exciting, trying to get over jet leg and  have connected with Prince at World Vision. A staff member in the city kindly brought my train ticket to the hotel; have trouble staying awake from the time difference but I'm getting there; the loud speaker chanting from the temple down the road at 5 am isn`t helping but what can you do.  Did some shopping for Udayanikshan and his family, they have very modern stores here, much like a department store back home.

Went to Kandy yesterday, we stopped and I reluctantly went for an elephant ride.  These elephants were not treated that nicely and once we were on our way you could tell they were bored. I felt very bad; the guide kept asking me if I was alright, I said yes, but was glad when it was over. When we reached Kandy the rain was coming down so hard we could barely see out the car windows.I could see that it was a very pretty town, spice garden tour and some tourist trap stores selling same stuff I see in Toronto, same price!

Breakfast is tea in a cup that looks like an individual yogurt cup and sausage bun - 80 rupees about 80 cents;  calling Canada 40 cents/minute in a plexiglass phone booth with a regular house phone and the guy just times me. Getting better at finding the cheaper places to eat - have been spending a bit too much but am sure that will settle down once I get in the groove of things.

I have only seen one foreigner in the hotel lobby so far, feels very remote even though I`m in a big city.

Taking the train tomorrow (9 hours, $9) to Batticaloa where I don't know if they'll have internet, so may not be back in touch until Saturday pm or Sunday am. Will be taking the bus to the airport 80 rupees compared to 2600 by taxi. Will try to upload some pics but these places are not AC and hotter than hell.

Love you Bubba.

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