After a few days scratching around the grimiest backstreets Sri Lanka has to offer, today I finally got to take a refreshing dip in the calm, blue waters of the Bay of Bengal. I’ve set up camp in Trincomalee, a seemingly endless stretch of golden sand fringed by swaying palms. There are certainly worse places to stuff around in for a few weeks, that’s for bloody sure.
I’m staying right on the beach, with nothing but the ocean to look out on. Trinco (as all the cool people say – and some cockheads, probably) isn’t heavily developed, with just a smattering of hotels along the water. Go back a street and it’s a typical Sri Lankan village – busy and dirty, with little dudes storming around for the sake of appearing busy and cows standing around shitting all over the place.
It really is a very nice place to sit back, relax, and smash a bunch of beers… Or it would be, if Sri Lanka didn’t have a bunch of weird laws that ensure that having a few drinks is a difficult endeavour. After rocking up on the bus, I just wanted a beer, and set out into the streets to find a place willing to sell me one. In Negombo they had specific shops with huge ‘BEER’ signs out the front, and in Kandy alcohol was available at the supermarket, so I didn’t think it would be hard. I was wrong.
I swaggered into the first shop I found and asked for a beer, only to be met by confused looks, as if I’d asked if they had any chickens I could fuck. They finally told me of a place down the road that could help me out, so I trotted off down there. When I asked them, they gave me a confused look and then pointed me towards the first place.
I know Sri Lanka’s a developing country, but they need to sort their alcohol situation out. A bloke should be able to walk up the road and get himself a bloody beer on a hot afternoon. I ended up walking a round trip of 8km, only to come back empty handed and sadly sober. I settled for a beer at my hotel, which set me back $3.50 for a small bottle – hardly the cheap drinking experience I expected from one of the world’s poorest countries.
That’s the story of Sri Lanka, really. While it’s a povvo country like Indonesia or Thailand, it doesn’t provide a typical ‘povvo country’ holiday experience, with cheap accommodation and food. While $25 can get a lovely, modern unit in Bali, $40 gets an absolute shithole of a room in Sri Lanka – mine has bare concrete walls, no air con, and a hole in the ground where the advertised pool was mean to be. Meals are expensive unless you’re willing to risk the street food (I have), with basic meals running north of $10 a pop.
Trinco is a great part of the world, and if the Lankans ever sort out their pricing problems it will become a major tourist destination (and get fucked up in the process). Despite its problems, it’s a laid-back and relaxing village that is a great place to spend a relaxing few days, weeks, or even months. Right now, I’m just going to sit back on the beach with an overpriced beer, watch the sun down, and have a crack at the big-titted Pommy sheila who keeps giving me the eye. It’s a life…