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By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather
And autumn’s best of cheer.

Helen Hunt Jackson - September
The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel-
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive,
Well-honeyed hum,
And Mother cuts
Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze.

John Updike, September
Learn English in September

Another road trip - Sri Lanka and India



  • takafromtokyotakafromtokyo Posts: 2,966 Inactive
    Safe flight!
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,838 ✭✭✭✭
    @takafromtokyo I used to like flying in Nepal but the internal flights don't have a very good track record of safety. I lost a couple of friends in a plane crash a few years ago so I tend to be a bit nervous. However I don't mind flying on Yeti Airlines as they have the best safety record.
  • VokVok Posts: 2,143 ✭✭✭✭
    @mheredge I would avoid flying in Nepal unless it was absolutely necessary. I remember having butterflies on a domestic flight in Indonesia, but Nepal airlines safety record is even worse, as far as I know.
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,838 ✭✭✭✭
    @takafromtokyo I think Indonesia and Nepal probably compete to be the worst.

    I have spent half of the day just downloading photos onto my laptop. I must have hundreds of pictures. I have to give a copy of them to the travel agency so they can use them for promotional material. I also have to set up a short slide presentation. It's going to be hard to choose which to show.
  • GemmaRowlandsGemmaRowlands Moderator Posts: 10,331 mod
    I hope you have a safe flight. Sorry to hear that you lost your friends. I think we are very lucky in the UK to have such safe flight stats.
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,838 ✭✭✭✭
    Yes some countries have a very bad record. As well as Nepal, Indonesia, China, and the Philippines have a pretty bad track record.

    I'm having to give a short presentation about my latest road trip immediately after when I get back from a few days away next week. I will have to get it prepared before I go away as I won't have any time after I get back.
  • GemmaRowlandsGemmaRowlands Moderator Posts: 10,331 mod
    I imagine people will find your presentation very interesting indeed. I always enjoy reading about your travels!
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,838 ✭✭✭✭
    Thanks @GemmaRowlands. I have cobbled together some slides with pictures illustrating the places I visited. The focus of the presentation will be mainly the homestays and how these make travelling so much easier as they are all only a few hours apart.
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,838 ✭✭✭✭
    No peace for the wicked. No sooner than I get home and I will need to plan a trip to Sri Lanka. It's a lot farther than from Kathmandu but at least I should have a bit more time there.
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,838 ✭✭✭✭
    On the road again, that is if the air traffic controllers aren't all out on strike at the airport today. I am flying to Sri Lanka and Colombo this time.

    Famous for its tea, Sri Lanka also boasts some very important archaeological sites, fine beaches and is the best place to see leopards in the wild.
  • Shishio13Shishio13 Posts: 172 ✭✭✭
    Wow.. good luck in your trip @mheredge . I hope next year going to visit Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is the number one destination country for tourist in 2019. It will nice to get your feedback about that country.
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,838 ✭✭✭✭
    It's a lovely place to visit @Shishio13. There's lots to see and it's small and easy to get around.
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,838 ✭✭✭✭
    Yesterday I bumped into a couple of tour leaders, a Canadian and a Pole who both lead groups in Europe (they were having a break for a few weeks and had flown from India). I tagged along and after some lunch, we visited a few places, running after our six foot tall Canadian friend, dodging tuk-tuks and squeezing through the packed streets to see the Dutch Reform Church, called Wolvendaal Church. One of the most important Dutch Colonial era buildings in Sri Lanka, it is also one of the oldest Protestant churches still in use there. Built in 1743, it was outside the city fort in a marshy area and mistaking packs of jackals for wolves, the area became known as Wolvendaal (Wolf's Dale or Wolf's Valley).

    We also headed to a beach near the Fort to see the sunset but it was too overcast to get excited about it. My newfound travel companions wanted to have an ice cream and a burger from MacDonalds. Admittedly the restaurant's terrace did over a good view of the 'sunset.' On a nice evening I guess it would be the perfect viewpoint.

    Today I went to visit a couple of Buddhist temples and then retraced my steps to the Dutch church which I thought I would sketch (I sketched inside the temple complex). Either jet-lag, being too close or just lack of concentration meant after a few false starts, I threw the towel in and walked back to my hostel, only diverting to the restaurant where I'd had lunch yesterday that serves an excellent ginger beer.

  • VokVok Posts: 2,143 ✭✭✭✭
    I was meant to visit the country a few years ago, but my plans fell through back then @mheredge . I've heard that Sri Lanka is not much different from India. I know you've been to both. How do you find Sri Lanka compaired to India?
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,838 ✭✭✭✭
    @Vok, it is perhaps like a very upmarket and civilised India, though actually it is very different in many ways. It is a lovely little country, with lots to see and with very kind and friendly people. About 75% are Buddhist here. There are incredible beaches if you like this sort of thing. There are also many national parks and nature reserves if you are interested in nature. It is said that this is the best place in the world to see a leopard in the wild, if this your thing (I was over the moon when I saw one here). There are also many interesting ancient UNESCO sites, tea gardens and beautiful old towns up in the hills, with scenic historic railways. It's very cheap - maybe similar to India but the roads and hotels seem to be a much better standard. I am very impressed by the room that the travel agent I will be working with tomorrow arranged. I know that it costs around 50 euros a night but it's a very good standard three star which would cost maybe double this in Nepal for a similar room which still might not be as good. And as for food, the cuisine is similar but not at all the same as Indian food. There's lots of fish and they use coconut and fruit a lot. I really recommend the place. Especially now, as the usual problem is that after a suicide bomb attack in April on a church, tourism has been seriously effected. It is very strange, as ISIS claimed responsibility, but there are hardly an Muslims here and it really looks like a random act of craziness. I feel far more at risk going to London or Paris that travelling here.
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,838 ✭✭✭✭
    @Vok I will be going to India in about three weeks and I know it will be quite a lot more challenging.
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,838 ✭✭✭✭
    Work over, it is now time to play. Yesterday I went to the local market. It was a riot of colour with market stall holders all yelling their prices and crowds of people swarming along the narrow aisles. Tiny women with their elbows out nudged me out of their way.

    Today however, I need to go and find some more effective mosquito repellent. The citronella oil I got yesterday doesn't seem to have much effect.

  • filauziofilauzio Genoa ( Italy )Posts: 2,055 ✭✭✭✭✭
    One colleague of mine holidayed in Sri Lanka once, @mheredge. The only pictures he showed, though, depicted him enjoying his time laying relaxangly on the beaches.

    If I ever made it to this country, I'd like to penetrate further into the inner part, climbing up the hills, visiting remote areas and definitely growing more local.

    Probably I would have to rely on a local guide; even though, possibly I'd like to successfully reaching the less touristic landmarks.

    Is the presence of mosquitoes so massive as to get a bland repellent useless ?

    What about tuk-tuks ? I understand they are three-wheeled vehicles: are they ubiquitous in Sri Lanka ? Are they locally manufactured ?

    glad to stop strict diet, splashed in belly flop? Don't care you're not light, here on English hop !
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,838 ✭✭✭✭
    I'm not sure where they're manufactured @filauzio but tuk-tuk are everywhere and seem to have the worst drivers, along with the buses. Although I am staying ten minutes from the tourist strip down by the beach, I'm staying with a family so I have hardly sen any tourists so far. Tomorrow I might be heading back to Colombo by train for a few days to visit friends. The train should be fun: slow, crowded and trundling along the lovely coastline. I hope to sit by one of the open doors though don't worry, I won't hang out like some of the locals do.
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,838 ✭✭✭✭
    I'm now in India. I always get a thrill when I travel here. The colours, the smell, the noise and chaos are like a kaleidoscope. There are just as many auto-rickshaws here too @filauzio. But the driving is way better than in Sri Lanka.
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,838 ✭✭✭✭
    Today I am taking a train to a town that's about 80 kilometres from Trivandrum. It's not very far but it's going to take two and a half hours. I guess it will be stopping at a lot of places!
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,838 ✭✭✭✭
    I'm now in a city that took a while to get its name right: Tiruvannumalai. Though this place is not famous at least to non Indians, I think the temple here might be the one I like most. It's a close thing though, as Tamil Nadu must boast some of the most splendid Hindu temples.

    I'm now sitting in a Tibetan restaurant and have ordered vegetable steamed momos for a change.
  • VokVok Posts: 2,143 ✭✭✭✭
    @mheredge The Annamalaiyar Temple in Tiruvannumalai looks amazing. I'd love to go to India one day myself.
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,838 ✭✭✭✭
    You do it @Vok. It's really amazing. I visited the ashram there this morning and as my hotel seemed to have overbooked (they had a room in another place which gave me the excuse to cancel without any charge), I spontaneously decided to go to Pondicherry a day early. So I am now sitting on a bus. The 90 kilometres will probably take two and a half hours and cost £0.80. I've been able to get a cheap hostel bed that I have just booked online. I already booked for the rest of my stay in Pondi as I have been here before and liked the place very much.
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,838 ✭✭✭✭
    It seems a fitting end to a fantastic couple of months in Sri Lanka and India to be staying a couple of nights in Chennai with a friend who's an Indian travel agent, who's recently gone into partnership with a Sri Lankan company.
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,838 ✭✭✭✭
    I spent a very enjoyable day exploring some temples in Chennai today. I have most of tomorrow free before I head to the airport. My only task left is to recharge my SIM so that it is still valid for when I plan to return. In addition, my sister will be able to borrow it for when she visits India in a couple of weeks. Since it's quite difficult to obtain a simcard, I don't want to give it up.
  • VokVok Posts: 2,143 ✭✭✭✭
    Why is it difficult to get a simcard in India @mheredge ?
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,838 ✭✭✭✭
    The government has tightened up on security @Vok. In the past it's always been tricky for sensitive areas like Ladakh and Kashmir where you needed a local contact to be a referee. Now they've extended this to all India. In addition, an Indian can't be a referee to many people. I was very fortunate that the kind owner of the guest house where I was staying allowed me to use his name to obtain a SIM card. Unfortunately even if I pay for a year if I don't use it for three months, it will cease to work. So today I just recharged it for a month so that when my sister comes to India in two weeks she'll have a working sim for her ten days in Kerala.
  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 44,838 ✭✭✭✭
    Sitting in Colombo Airport I'm seeing at least ten percent of the passengers wearing face masks. This airport has installed a scanner that apparently picks up if anyone has contracted the Corona-virus. I have no idea how it can do this however.
  • VokVok Posts: 2,143 ✭✭✭✭
    Happened to be next to a Beijine check-in counter at the Nur-Sultan airport yesterday, I was glad to have a mask with me too. Better be safe, than sorry @mheredge . It's fair to say, that those who were checking-in the Air China flight worn masks themselves. It's just thermal cameras they use to scan the passengers body temperature and single those out with abnormal.
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