Picked the road (see the earlier post with details of the route) supposedly to avoid the clog of cricket devotees pouring out of Colombo to Dambulla. Curiosity turned an obscure ancient site near Sigiriya into a justifiable destination. All legitimate excuses to get out of town even if it wasn’t a long weekend.
An alarm clock malfunction delayed the supposedly early start. No time for breakfast. Just enough for a cup of hurriedly brewed caffeine and to abduct a bottle of boiled water. Lack of the usual supplies (Napoleon invaded Russia with less) leads to a search for “devilled” cashews. It takes 3 stops along the main road to the airport (the A3) before we finally find a shop selling a packet that met our specifications. A less difficult find was a Perera & Sons selling vegetarian Chinese Rolls.
Thus supplied we miss the turn off to route A33 at Ja-Ela the first time. After backtracking we creep onto the A33 which looks more a like side road in a not too prosperous commuter suburb.
Then some promising landmarks. Specifically the Ekala air force base with its alarmingly light defences of a few casual sand bag bunkers. There is of course the pedestal mounted airframe by the main gate which seems to be a required feature for an force air base.
Feeling confident we adventurously follow a speeding bus that is steaming to somewhere near Kurunegala. We whiz through various Y and T junctions, preferring to think that we are on the right track despite a growing need to confirm our bearings.
Each small town we pass straddles a cobweb of roads branching away from our route. The signage (if there is any) only refers to obscure immediate places. Eventually we pull over and accost the locals for directions. A post middle age lady in cloth and jacket. A young guy on an old bicycle. They are all taken aback that we are going ALL the way to Kurunegala. We get surprised yet happy smiles out of them when we thank them for the directions.
Turns out we were on the right track all along. The key is to avoid turning into side roads. Keep going forward – essentially along the B15 road (though I doubt the locals call it that).
The scenery keeps getting rural. The road narrows and tunnels through lush greenery. Other than an odd truck we are the only thing on the road. Cows lounge in the shadows of not too well kept coconut plantations like dim members of a shabby country club. On a particularly green stretch, a dog is thrashing about on in the middle of the road, using the tarmac as a scratching post. Paws waving in the air. It gets out of the way at the nick of time. Perhaps it heard dog loving Mrs C’s deafening squeals of panic. Its shocked look at the sight of a vehicle on a Saturday morning recedes in the rear view mirror.
Lamp posts have left us by this point. A subtle warning in the glorious late morning light that this section of road would be difficult to drive at night. Not that Sri Lankan roads are uniformly well lit to begin with. The road surface so far has been smooth though we get ambushed by the infrequent pot hole. Best leave the Aston Martin at home.