Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ghost stories from Sri Lanka

The Travelife team in Sri Lanka

Behind the scenes of Travelife TV

Good evening from Kandy, a mountain city and Sri Lanka's second-largest that reminds us all of Baguio. There's a lovely lake in the middle of the city that made us all say "Burnham Park" when we saw it, and even Kandy's main thoroughfare looks so much like Session Road. We arrived here late this afternoon after another very long drive through Sri Lanka's heartland. The distances between points are actually not very long, but because we still have to see a proper highway in the five days or so that we've been here, everything just takes ten times longer. Especially with local drivers all navigating their vehicles as if they had a death wish.

It was a very eventful day for the Travelife team, especially after a rather sleepless night at a pretty lovely but old hotel by a lake last night. I heard feet shuffling in my room in the early morning and, in fact, got woken up by it. But perhaps it was fatigue as well as a morbid fear of the unknown that did it, but I just closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep until my wake-up call came at 6 am.


At breakfast, I compared notes with the guys and M, who was in the next room, said he'd heard commotions from his sofa bed all night as well. We all shivered at the possibility of something supernatural or at the very least unexplainable, and were quite happy to check out of our hotel and head on to Kandy. However, Kandy itself is an old town with a very colonial feel, and practically all the grand hotels are old-fashioned and just plain old. There must be many unexplainable stories here, in the same way that Baguio never runs out of ghost stories.

"This looks like something out of The Shining," T said at dinner tonight. "Even the bar area looks like it came out of there." We were having the Sri Lankan equivalent of Mongolian barbecue al fresco in the garden. It really is a lovely grand old hotel, but I can see why the guys are just having so much fun mentioning ghost stories and scary movies to me right now. I covered my ears and practically ordered them to change the topic, but this just amused them even more.

It's great fun to travel with these guys, but they certainly tease me a whole lot. If it's not about ghosts, it's about my Blackberry or even about something as mundane as having curry for breakfast. Yes, we all met up for breakfast really early today, and everyone had the Western breakfast of omelettes and bacon except me. I chose the Sri Lankan breakfast because I figured any restaurant in Sri Lanka would do a local breakfast well whereas Western fare would be hit or miss; and plates of different curries and a plate of stringy rice noodles arrived. I didn't hear the end of it after this.


But it's the ghost stories they seem to have the most fun over.

Ghosts aside, there are no shortage of interesting stories and anecdotes. I checked into my room earlier this evening and there was a sign on the window: "Playful monkeys may amuse you by the window so please take care." And sure enough, just as I looked out, a tiny face with big eyes peered at me from the other side and grinned with very large teeth.

I might ordinarily have screamed out of surprise, but I've grown used to seeing monkeys everywhere in Sri Lanka by now -- as well as peacocks on the road, giant lizards lounging around ruins, and even elephants lazing by ponds. It's like one big safari out here.

And of course, I'll take a monkey vs someone out of The Shining anytime. After penning this entry on our blog, I now almost dread going back to my room (yes, it's a pretty old-fashioned hotel so I'm accessing Internet from the lobby...) and actually having to sleep by myself. However, if I hear any more shuffling feet at midnight, I'll let you know tomorrow.

In the meantime, good night from amazing and exotic Sri Lanka.

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