Trincomalee was a tropical oasis where the biggest problem I had was working out which beer to have with my dinner. And then I went and fucked it all up.
One of the women at my hotel took a liking to me, and after serving me extra large portions at dinner to let me know she was interested, I served her an ‘extra large portion’ of my own. Understandably, she became infatuated with me, so it was poor judgement on my behalf when I returned to the hotel one evening with an Asian woman I’d met. In fact, she threw me out and told me she was going to call her brother to come and kick my head in.
With nowhere to stay and not really liking the idea of being hoofed by some cricket-mad Sri Lankan bloke, I took a tuk-tuk to the bus station and climbed onto the next ride out of there. Fortunately, it wasn’t heading to the sewage works or anything, but to the pleasant coastal city of Batticaloa – famous for being ‘the land of the singing fish.’ I love singing and I love fish, so it turned out to be a great decision.
After a three-and-a-half-hour journey in a bus so full of humans that I thought I would die of BO-inhalation, I finally made it to Batti. And the good news is, it’s a bloody nice place. Smaller and less chaotic than Trinco or Kandy, the city is set out around a giant lagoon, and has plenty of trees and other lovely things. I wasted no time getting out and seeing what it had to offer.
The Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, the Great Wall of China. I’ve seen them all, but none come close to the Batti Gate for sheer awe-inspiring beautness. Alright, that’s a major exaggeration, because it’s quite small and not very impressive at all. In fact, the Gate is possibly the stupidest gate in the world, because it goes nowhere and is full of homeless men. And not the good sort of homeless men – the ones who dance for a sandwich – but the type who just sit around in their own filth, yelling at pigeons.
There’s even a statue of much-loved bald man Mahatma Gandhi, which is particularly impressive because the golden dude is wearing an actual pair of glasses on his handsome little face. If you’re a four-eyed geek on a vacation to Sri Lanka and your specs fall off and smash – probably while someone’s giving you a wedgie – it’s nice to know that you can pluck a set off this dude’s noggin and go about your geeky life.
The Batticaloa Fort is the other major tourist attraction in Batti, and came as a throwback to my time in Europe, where I saw more forts and old towns than Julia Gillard has had married men. It was built by the Portuguese back in 1622 to store all their prostitutes, before the Dutch captured it a few years later, ripped it apart for reasons I don’t understand (and probably kissed all the hookers) before rebuilding it. It’s cool to look at and strange to see on a tropical island like this. It’s also small and there’s not much to check out inside, because it’s been converted into government offices. Four hundred years old and the most exciting thing that happens there is when the rubber bands run out.
There’s also a gigantic book outside. Sadly, it’s not the literary classic Red, White and Bruce, but there’s no accounting for taste.
The best attraction by far is a statue of a giant singing fish, which almost makes up for the fact there aren’t any real singing fish around here. There’s even a speaker inside that plays a sort of warbling sound, which was hauntingly beautiful. I started swaying in time to it, and eventually began twirling around, lost in its cadence. After a few moments, the mood was shattered when I heard a voice say, “Hello sir!” and looked over to see a little Sri Lankan dude lying on the ground behind the fish, holding his ankle. “I have been crying out for help and you just dance in time to my cries. I’ve hurt my leg, are you going to help me up or what?” So much for the legend of the singing fish…