Leaving my new home in beautiful Saint Kilda was no fun. I said adios (with a love letter) and took a flight to an island as big as the Netherlands and Belgium together to make new memories with my school-, dive-, snowboard-, ski-, skydive-, business plan- and life buddy, Bo!!!
The night I arrived in Sri Lanka I was exhausted. 2 flights, a massive jetlag and a really long transfer in Kuala Lumpur. Meeting Bo in the lobby was the weirdest, but coolest start of this trip. It was normal, yet so strange to meet in Asia after not seeing each other for almost 10 months. We went out for some food, had a good laugh and I stumbled upon a really coincidental situation. But the next morning is what it’s all about…!
Meet our new and sexy friend ‘Thor’ (the tuk tuk) and the weirdo (Bo) 🙂
I highly recommend it to hire a tuk tuk with their Sri Lanka trip! The flexibility, fun and experience is so worth it! And as you will pick up while reading this blog, we really loved Thor (and still do). Tuk tuk rental Sri Lanka was where we got our tuk tuk from and they definitely make life easier. The guys know what they’re doing and they arrange everything you need. Trust me once, give it a go!
So, we got Thor delivered that morning. We had a driving lesson in the morning to get used to the driving, traffic and the gears, but basically a lesson to stay alive with driving this three-wheeler. Then we went through some theory: Sri Lankan traffic rules, maintenance, rules of the company, insurance and more… some outstanding things:
The right of the strongest. The most important thing is that the big trucks and busses are always right. They’re on top of the food chain and as a tuk tuk driver you’re somewhere at the bottom. So, watch yourself.
Drive until tank is empty. There’s no fuel meter. So if the tank is empty, guess what? Then it’s empty. The tuk tuk will stop and you drive to a petrol station (if you’re lucky) on your reserve tank.
Wouldn’t be the first time there was no petrol station, but we always got some locals helping us out
It was 11am when we took off from Negombo. We were aiming to reach Arugam Bay which is on the other side of the island. Nearly impossible to drive in 1 day. Especially because we weren’t allowed to drive on gravel roads (which I understand) and driving at night was strongly discouraged.
I’m sorry ‘tuk tuk rental Sri Lanka’, but we had to break your rules the 1st day. #Rebellious…
We had bad traffic, good traffic, bad roads, good roads, winding roads (in the mountains), dodged trees on the road at night, drove through local festivals, drove through many cities, had amazing chats, then Bo feel asleep, Bo woke up, Bo fell asleep again, we had sun, we had rain and we had a full moon.
11.30pm the same day and we made it to Arugam Bay. We had just we crossed the whole island in 1 day with our loyal, baby boy Thor – 12-hour drive.
We spent 4 days in the chilled-out, everyone-surfs-and-takes-good-pictures-here, surf town Arugam Bay. Things came together: good vibes, safaris with sexy Thor (no elephants though…), surfing, sunshine, palm trees, nice beaches, wandering around, exploring, getting-stuck-with-Thor situations, great weather, making new friends and having great chats. But some things fell apart, too: we (read: I) didn’t attach the surfboard on the roof properly and it flew off on the road. Which is not so great for a surfboard. And the moment when we finally got into the water I got smashed into the reef by the first wave. Result: cuts and wounds. But the fun we had!
Sweet, sweet Sri Lanka!
5am in the morning 4 days later: we packed Thor, filled the tank, took our new friend Elise with us and together we headed north. A beautiful sunrise, many local snacks, great chats and 8 hours later we arrived in Nilavelli to go scuba diving the day after.
Just overwhelming how beautiful Sri Lanka is underneath and above the water. Its beauty kept surprising us. Not only nature, but also the local food. Fuck it’s good! SPICY, but oh so tasty! Also, meals for only for €3, -.
High as a kite, sorry, what?
2 days later we crossed the island again. Route: north-east to north-west. We packed Thor with our backpacks, a lot of food and we replaced our amazing Elise for another amazing chick, Lea. 8 hours later and we had arrived in always windy Kalpitiya to, you guess it, go kite surfing! Which sounds way cooler than it was. I was so, so tired from the driving. And to be honest, not in the greatest of moods, haha… So when the owner, who flew higher than a kite, charged us a price that made me wanna kill myself, for a 15 years old kite I started to get slightly annoyed. But then – to make it even more fun – when I set up my gear I found one of the lines missing. The owner took the boat headed back to the resort to find the line. But this – as a cause of a good dose of marihuana – took him a while. With that I mean, the owner never came back.. I had a 10-minute session with Bo’s kite but this small kite made it nearly impossible for a tall, clumsy guy like me.
Renzo fell asleep in the hammock. Woke up 3 hours later. He felt reborn. Bo and Renzo put heads together and decided the morning after we should pack up baby Thor.
This was probably the best decision we could make. Not for Thor though… We drove through a safari park. With a tuk tuk! (in case you forgot) Thor didn’t like the holes and bumps. Sorry Thor. And I feel like Bo has to say sorry, too. After she made us fly over a bump. 60 km/h, Thor almost lost his wheels and my head almost through the roof. And sorry from both, me and Bo (I assume) for dehydrating you, Thor. Almost ended up without patrol in 35 degrees on a lonely road. But, writing about this makes me smile. We had a good time doing something spontaneous together. Yup, big smile. Very big.
The safari beast
And then we arrived in Jaffna. Shortly, amazing! It’s the most northern city of Sri Lanka, the holy place and a holiday location for the locals, which makes this place, obviously, very local. which means pictures with everyone. But very cheap and amazing food. Some awesome experiences: crazy (!) fish markets, amazing architecture and (Dutch) fords, funny driving lessons, funny people, interesting culture: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christendom in one city, but also 2 languages and a place that was in civil war 4 years before. Very interesting place. We took Thor out for a ride and did some island hopping which again, was amazing! Big recommendation here.
Heading back to chaos was very, say, chaotic
It was fun. A lot of fun! But very chaotic. Nearly 400 km in Thor from Jaffna to Negombo. During this amazing 10-hour drive from north-to-almost-south we FINALLY ticked off the last bucket list thing. We had been pulled over 5 times before, but after showing our Sri Lankan tuk tuk driving licence (that tuk tuk rental provided) they would always let us drive away without fines. But this time was different. Bo made use of her the space in the backseat and had her legs up in the air, Thor was slightly speeding (speed limit was 40 km/h, we drove 70 km/h) and reggae music on its highest volume – which was, overall, not that loud at all (but lets pretend like you don’t know that and now it sounds cool). Mr. officer jumped on the road holding one hand high in the air while showing his speed laser with his other hand. We pulled Thor over. Mr. officer had a serious face. He walked up to us “licence and registration”. Which I, politely overhanded with a big smile. Mr. officer’s face went from serious to surprised when seeing my Sri Lankan driving licence, then back to serious. “Rabalaka palaba, bapalabahab?” something he said. It was obviously Sinhalese (local languages). Mr. assumed that 2 blue-eyed-blond-hair-really-pale-people spoke his language after seeing the driving licence. No, stuti (thank you) is about as far as we get. Anyway, the actual reason I’m telling this is that we finally got our fine. 28 km/h too fast to be precisely. “Here you go, sir. That costs you 1000 Rupiah.” Said the officer with a proud look on his face. Bo and I tried being serious too, but couldn’t stop laughing. Officer 2 noticed the fun we had and decided to join our fun. Not appreciated by officer 1. We paid our fine in cash (it was €7, -) and drove away, proud of ticking off another box of the bucket list.
The last 2 hours before arriving in Negombo the traffic was pretty hectic. The driver (Bo) was probably the most full on and most ridiculous driver on the road dodging all her obstacles. And me in the backseat having faith in her and in staying alive – I actually fell asleep on the backseat, but when I woke up wished I was still asleep. We arrived in Negombo safe and sound. And that still surprises me.
That night we went out for food. Got smashed. End up with a food fight, writing on walls (which was actually allowed), doing weird shit. 5 minutes on the dance floor was quite expensive, I mean… had never been so expensive before. Bo got $200 (Australian dollar) pick pocketed. Good stories come from bad ideas? The day after when we were both quite hangover and we had to hurry to the airport. I ‘delivered’ Bo and we said goodbye and all that. Once I drove away I got a call. It’s Bo. Bo: “Renzo, is my wallet in Thor?!” Renzo: “nope, why?” Bo: “fuck Renzo, fuck, fuck. It’s still in the hostel”. Thor and I flew through Negombo’s hectic traffic. Almost got killed twice. 3 missed calls from Bo (who was stressing out as I can imagine). Wallet still there. 45 minutes to go before Bo’s flight would leave. As you can imagine, I stressed out too, especially with this traffic. 20 minutes of driving myself and Thor through a battlefield (because that’s what is felt like) of trucks, cars, scooters, tuk tuk’s, people, cows, dogs and what not. But, wallet was delivered on time and Bo didn’t have to stay in Sri Lanka for the rest of her life. And they lived happily ever after.
Thor without brains
Now I was on my own. Which means, no brains that drove Thor anymore. Which means asking for trouble. Which results in… driving on the highway with a tuk tuk and as you can imagine with your functioning brain, that is not allowed. Neither it’s appreciated. The highway patrol took me over and pulled me to the side. They wanted me to go to court. A little intense I’d say. Which I found pretty intense and decided to act like I didn’t speak English that well (which I actually don’t anyway). I just kept holding a bunch of notes in front of him until he took me to a little room to ‘secretly’ take the cash. It had cost me money, I was made fun of by a lot of locals, but I can tick off another pretty awesome thing from the bucket list. Imagine seeing a tuk tuk on the highway when you’re driving to your work tomorrow. Pretty random.
This is what traveling is about! Bo, a massive, insane, thousand times thank you for everything. And I’m not going to name all those things because a 2100 words blog is more than enough. Or I’m just lazy. So, thank you for who/what you are! Really. A thousand times.