A week before Saturday, my best friends and I planned to go to Tangalle for the long weekend. The plan changed to hit the hills and the chills for a different kind of fun, and a move away from the sun, sand and sea. The whole week leading up to Saturday was a mess of finding accommodation in Nuwara Eliya and Bandarawela. The search for proper accommodation went on until late Friday night and the result was fruitless. We were unable to book anything and the long weekend we had been waiting for was about to go by with nothing.
Friday night at around 11 pm I decided that we should not let our weekend be hindered by lack of accommodation and decided to hit Galle and Unawatuna to have the usual fun, since finding a place to stay won’t be a problem there. Eight people were to go on the trip, five guys and three girls. In the end the girls failed to turn up much to our relief, and we decided to wing it and go with the wind. So we started off early Saturday morning with me behind the wheel. We bought a map and headed off to Galle.
There were many things about this spur-of-the–moment trip that is really worth telling. But the fun we had and the feelings of happiness that passed through our minds are very difficult to describe in writing. I wish I had a device to record my thoughts and feelings so that I can share the experience accurately. I will try my best to describe everything that happened as best as I can, but I know nothing can compare to the moving pictures that play inside my head. So here goes.
The drive was amazing as always. The thrill of the drive to Galle is something I can never get enough of. As we sped along the coastal line, we felt the worries and the problems of our everyday life leaving our hearts and minds. It was like we were driving away into bliss. Everything seemed and felt perfect. With the meter lingering around 100, music pumping in our ears, the beach on our side, and the road smooth and long, we were lost in our own little world.
Our tentative plan was to chill out during the day and hit the party at the Unawatuna Diving Center at night, after a drinking session. Around 7.45pm my friends got the bottles and everything needed and started the session in full swing. I’m a non-alcoholic and I have my own way of indulgence. So during this session I got a mad laughing fit and couldn’t stop myself. I was laughing so hard, it hurt and everybody was laughing at me, not with me. I don’t remember why I started laughing. I couldn’t breathe and the pain in my sides was immense. I started tearing and crying. My friends started laughing harder and all I could see through the tears were their white teeth, and that made me laugh even harder. After what seemed like hours of non-stop laughing I was finally able to catch my breath and stop. I gulped the air welcomingly, and it felt so good to breathe again.
At about 11.30pm we headed for the party with everyone buzzing proper and nice. The party was a sausage fest but it improved after some time. I didn’t give two shits about the crowd, because the music was so good and I spent the night dancing in the sand with the waves washing my feet. It took me back to last week when I was at the Offshore party after the GLF dancing alone on the sand. My friends had all left because they were sleepy, but I dint want to leave. I wanted to become one with the sea and watch the stars disappear. So I was dancing away till 6.00 am. Afterwards my legs were killing me, but it was well worth it.
Coming back to this week’s trip, on Sunday we consulted our map and decided to go to Deniyaya, where my friend’s uncle had a bungalow. We had a great lunch in Galle, one that compensated the shitty breakfast of Jaffle toast or something, where we were properly ripped off, and set out again to a different part of the country. The drive was not that long but the roads were winding, so it was tiring, but I enjoyed it, once more. I really love driving, when it’s not in the rush hour traffic of Colombo.
Since nothing was planned we did not have any high expectations. Therefore when the best things happened, the sensation came in three-fold. To cut things short about Sunday night without making things uncomfortable, I would have to say that we all had a great trip in Deniyaya. At that moment, for us what we did that night was the highlight of the whole journey. But we were very wrong, at least until next day.
Come Monday morning, our plan was to wake up early and drive up to the buffer zone of the Sinharaja rainforest, drive around for a bit and head homeward bound at about 2pm. We woke up late though after the adventures of the night before, but still we set off for the forest. We stopped by a beautiful rocky stream and climbed up the precarious rocks with bottles and bites in hand looking for a food, isolated spot to have a drink. We found a nice place where the water was collecting, creating a small pool and dipped the bottles in there to cool the drinks. We sat around the rocks, taking in the view of the jungle and feeling the sensation of being there. Making small talk and feeling pity for the people who missed out on the trip, we enjoyed the environment. It was my first time in the rainforest and I was at awe. The trees loomed majestically around us, and the greenery was so pleasing to the eye and the sounds of the gurgling water complemented the sounds of the trees and the birds beautifully.
We hung out there for some time and decided to move further upstream to find the entrance to the thicket of the forest. The rocks were slippery and dangerous, but we treaded with care, holding hands and helping each other. I don’t think any of us had never ever needed each others hand so much before. I cannot remember how long we walked, but it was a fair amount. We even had to cross several places, balancing ourselves on logs. We even posed on these dangerous logs for photos for memories sake, knowing very well that if we fell we would be having a very bad memory or maybe even no memory at all.
We reached the bunt and saw the jungle lying in front of us. It was quiet. The jungle had an eerie aura to it, tempting us with its mysteriousness. Our hearts were way too gullible for it, and we gave in and decided to jump over the wall and go in. Crossing the wall was very tricky as we had to jump from one rock to another and then jump from that rock on to the wall, while making sure we had a good foot hold and a grip. Scaling the wall we jumped down onto the other side. We were in the jungle. Without a guide or a trekker, without paying any entrance fees, without anyone knowing where we are, we stood inside the Sinharaja.
We walked forward slowly, getting stuck in the deep mud, scratching ourselves on thorns and falling into holes. We didn’t go far because we weren’t ready for proper trekking, we didn’t have time and well, some of us were a little bit afraid. Bata slippers are not the way to go into a forest when you know the amount of Koodallas hanging around waiting for people like us to come across. We walked a bit further and took some more photos, took a piss and then decided to walk back to the vehicle. That’s when we encountered the wrath of the Koodalla. Damn those buggers are fucked up. They hardly let go and we had to pull / smack with slippers to get them out. It hurt but we had no salt water remedies in hand. The bloody leeches stirred a lot of commotion. Whenever we spotted one on ourselves we would stop to get rid of it and end up half falling, losing our balance on rocks and cutting ourselves.
After the leech fiasco, when we were positive there were no more mofos crawling up our legs, we started the journey back on the rocks. I thought climbing up was hard, but damn, going down just took that difficulty to another level. After some time we reached the end (or the beginning). It was sad to see civilization and my vehicle. I wanted to stay in the jungle despite all the dangers that could be lurking inside. We washed ourselves a bit and got ready for the drive home. The time was 5.30pm then and we had forgotten lunch.
The forest was definitely the highlight of the trip. It was a new kind of adventure, one that we had never experienced before. The rocks, the water, the jungle, the leeches everything conspired together to make a truly memorable experience that we would relish forever. The drive home was silent as always, with little bursts of chats popping up here and there. I drove back towards the reality we call daily life, leaving behind our hearts and heads to live out the past few days for a little longer. The closer we got to home, the more the whole trip seemed like a dream. And the more it seemed like a dream, the more we wished we could live it once again. Our approach of taking whatever may come was successful. This was all about the journey and not the destination, because after all our destination was unknown. At least until we got there.
So guys, here’s to the end of the beginning. The end of the legendary first chapter of our Destination Unknown and here’s to the beginnings of many more. Here’s to setting out once again with our bags packed incompletely, rushing to call people at the last moment trying to convince them to come, playing spin the map and deciding where to go, and never being negative about where we head off to. May we live it up in the strangest of places. Here’s to us and our great adventure. Here’s to life. Let’s make it worth watching.