posted on Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Haputale


Adventures sometimes start where plans fall apart. But before that, to the night in the forest chalet. Monkeys were never to be seen or heard of so I blame it on the birds. Nothing against them, I love watching birds and I rejoice when I hear them having a good happy chirpy day. The trouble is that there was no peace to be found in this forest. My bedroom was in the middle of a bird sanctuary. One particular bird I would name the faulty metronome was going on and on with his tik tok out of sync to which he would get a reply by another feathered specie that went chiii chiii or along those lines. They were obviously speaking different languages, misunderstanding each other, so why bother at all. To the adventure bit. Neil, yesterday's Sri Lankan tourism authority, had spent his time recommending me a road from Ella to Haputale that would only take 25 km. The stubborn in me realised that there was Rowena waterfall 7km going down the other way and I thought as the day was so short I would go there, come back and still have an easy relaxing day. Down I went and the road got steeper and steeper and by the time I got to the waterfall I knew there was no way I would want to go back up. I vaguely remembered Neil saying this way was too long but I rather trusted a tuk tuk driver suggesting I should continue on this road as it was not going much more down and then it would gently rise back to Haputale my final destination. Rule number one when you are cycling is never to trust the advice of motorised individuals. Their idea of a road going flat, up or down is completely skewed as all they have to do is push harder on a pedal or a gentle roll of the wrist. We cyclists are a different breed, we are much more sensitive to levels, up is painful down is joyful, flat is ...well, flat. Anyway there aren't many cyclists around here so there I was on an unplanned route at the mercy of drivers, tuk tuk riders, passers by and whoever wanted to join in and mislead me further. Distances and heights of towns seemed an opinion. Haputale height according to their answers varied between a mighty 5000 metres and a mere 1200. Distances were even more fun. I would get say 40 km from a person then ride 10, ask again and find out that Haputale was now 40 km away, meaning it was not only moving but it was doing so at my exact speed. Also on the map it was marked as an A road, meaning a major road but maybe this had been true in a distant past. Now it was a tiny bumpy messed up road waving up and down through a dense forests. The tarmac, when there was any left that is, had the consistency of rubber and at times seemed to be melting under the intense heat. Bronte with its little wheels was pissed off by the holes and bumps and I was only able to go at a walking pace or little more. Neil was right about the road being long but one thing he was wrong was the amazing sceneries. It climbed the ridge of a steep mountain and for hours I could look down as the mountains descended giving glimpses of the ocean two hundred kilometres away. Without even knowing it I stumbled on a fantastic waterfall that I later found out to be the second highest in the country dropping over 250 metres. The short ride turned into another long testing day but full of rewards. With Haputale getting further and further the more people I asked, together with the doubts of not making it in daylight, I took the wise decision to fold up my bike and get a tuk tuk to ride the last 7 or 18 km, depending whom you asked, that seemed to still separate me from my final destination. It turned out to be only 7 km still a few minutes later a mighty thunderstorm struck as I was peaceful speeding up the final stretch, on board my three wheeled saviour.