Underwater again

We were up at 7:30 to make sure we reached the dive centre in time, and enjoyed a rather delicious breakfast. Tea, toast, scrambled eggs and fresh fruit. A good start to the morning, and all for 300RP… or so we thought. It turns out the German Lanka had booked us in under a B&;amp;B scheme so the food was already paid for. Bonus!

The ferry picked us up at 8:00 and dropped us at the other side of the river where we met the rest of the small dive group. In all, there were three Russians, two Ukrainians, Hans and myself. I have now met a total of three Russian women and all three are gorgeous. I feel the red tape surrounding the visa application may have to be tackled soon.

It was only a 20-minute boat ride to the dive site, and this boat was much smaller than the ones I’d been on in Australia. The ride was OK, though the sea was a little choppy. Once we got there, however, my stomach rebelled… At least I hadn’t paid for the breakfast after all. The fish got more benefit from it than I did. Next time I take the TravaCalm pills.

The anchor rope snapped, so we had to move off to another dive site as well. What little food I had left was upchucked when we got to that area. I couldn’t wait to get into the water.

Much as I was tempted, I didn’t take my new camera down with me. Instead I just prepped the underwater housing and dived with that empty to test it. Better to find out I have a leaky housing without losing a camera into the bargain.

The dive was enjoyable. Nice, warm water and great visibility. There was little or no reef – mainly rock. This made things vastly different in appearance to what I’d seen off Cairns. There were plenty of fish to see, as well as a lot of starfish. Our guide even managed to spot a lionfish hiding under a rock.

Apparently the area was even better before the tsunami, but given the abundant life under there already I’m sure it’ll be back to near-as-new within another couple of years. I’m not sure how long the dive lasted, but I logged it as 30 minutes in my book – I’m sure it was longer. As it stands, I spent 8 1/2 hours of 2006 underwater!

Looking at the coastline and chatting to the Russkies, it seems that the resorts on the other side of the river from us are the ones with people in them. Our hotel emptied of its one other occupant on the night we arrived. Ah, well.

Once safely back on dry land, we sat and read then Hans had another of his frequent naps. One major thing that Sri Lanka has going for it is that it gets proper Cadbury’s chocolate, not the rubbish they dish out in Oz and NZ. How this fits with the Oz stuff apparently tasting bad because of the ingredients being used to top it melting is beyond me – Sri Lanka is generally hotter for longer than most of Australia!

After a few more chapters of Airport, I went online at the Anushka River Inn (another 450 Rupees – oops) and tried to ring certain parents who were on the phone when I called.

We stayed there for dinner again, but there was no steak on the menu! A crying shame, but the chicken-in-a-basket wasn’t half bad as a substitute. While we were waiting for our order, I got to see part of an Animal Planet documentary on the Tiger Temple I worked at back in April. It was fairly recent, as the Abbot was in a wheelchair following his heart attack and they showed two brand new tiger cubs! It’s good to see that work is progressing nicely on the sanctuary, too.

A quick stop at the guest house to drop our books off and then we went for a walk to try and find a party. Our first stop, though, was a hairdressers for Hans to get a trim. It seems my hair clippers just aren’t good enough. Pah. I’d not have minded, but there was nothing to read but German editions of women’s magazines while I waited!

Eventually, we found a path which led through the private resorts on to the beach and walked on the sand. And walked some more. And some more. Until we ran out of beach. The resorts all had private parties, and in all honesty they all looked crap. Huge bunches of middle-aged people who’d likely wait up till midnight, shake hands and go to bed.

We decided to cut our losses and got a tuk-tuk back. When trying to describe where we were going, Hans used the police station as a reference point. The locals got a little agitated, wondering what was wrong that we needed the police so urgently until we pointed out that our guest house was near there and not to worry! I think they were actually concerned about us, which is nice enough.

There was a small party going on at the German Lanka when we got back – about a dozen Germans, all friends of the owners, just having a dinner party. We didn’t bother joining in and I spent the midnight hour in a blissful state of earplug-aided sleep. Until Hans started snoring at 3am. Grr. In fairness, he’s not as bad as someone I went on holiday with once. His snoring was like someone reducing a factory full of combine harvesters to fine metal chaff using nothing but a battery of food mixers.

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