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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

British tourist on a bike in Sri Lanka

A day after I posted the photograph of the old Austin A 35 car, I found from where my brother had fished it out. I received this e-mail from Sanath Lama today and immediately thought of sharing it with a larger group. It is quite long, but well worth viewing if you can find the time. It is about a British tourist's Sri Lanka trip in 2015. He had covered the island by cycle from Dondra Head to Point Pedro, but the presentation seems to be heavily edited. The photographs are excellent and the brief text so very humourous! Rob has covered most of Sri Lanka on a bike and he had done it on a tight budget. 

Having seen most of the places that the tourist has described, it was quite an experience revisiting them in this pictorial record. Among them, the Galle Fort, the familiar Haputale name board displaying the elevation from sea level, Lipton's seat etc. There is one picture taken in Batheegama, Dickwella, a place that I am very familiar with. That's a village I used to visit regularly when I was MOH, Matara in 1970-1974. I had to go there not only for the routine ante natal clinics and the infant and pre school clinics but also for school medical inspections. 

I last visited the Dondra lighthouse with another Britisher in 1997. He was Colin Glennie, my former boss at UNICEF, Colombo. We were on an official visit to Matara for some other purpose and Colin was very keen to see the Dondra lighthouse (he had once served in the Royal Navy). Unlike the British tourist on a bike, we went there in the UNICEF Representative's official vehicle (the latest model Volvo at that time) which carried the UNICEF flag as well. Needless to say, my boss was given right royal treatment by the lighthouse keeper as we were accompanied by the area PHI. 

You can imagine what a vast geographical area the MOH area covered at that time. Dickwella is about 21 km to the south of Matara along the coastal road. Towards Colombo, the area extended almost up to Weligama while in the interior, the adjoining MOH area was Kamburupitiya which was quite some distance away.

Don't miss the modest but mouth watering rice and fish curry breakfast at a way side boutique in the South! Didn't know that one of the ingredients in my favourite "Pol Sambol" is nitric acid!

Click on the following link for the presentation.


  1. Lucky,this is one of the most fantastic, funniest, loveliest and most adventurous trips I have had through Sri Lanka with the humorous and articulate British Tourist, Rob as my guide. He brought out of me, peals of laughter, ahhhhhs of delight, gasps of wonder and more than anything, sheer admiration for Rob's adventurous spirit, with man and machine (the humble bike) in perfect harmony. We are proud of you Rob! And Lucky thanks a lot for giving us this visual treat!
    From Zita

  2. I agree with Zita. What a fantastic journey recorded by a man with a great sense of humour. The essence of being Sri Lankan appears to be an obsession with cricket, propensity to smile all the time and exude disarming friendliness! Some of the pictures were breath-taking, my favourite one being the misty hill country scene in Diayatalawa/Haputale. Rob shows how cheaply a Tourist can enjoy the delights of Sri Lanka if they are prepared to eat the local meals and stay in local guest houses. It would have cost him at least 10 times the amount he spent if he chose big Tourist hotels. Thanks again for posting this gem.

  3. When one reads an article like this by a foreigner, one feels proud to be a Sri Lankan!

  4. Enjoyed every bit of it- many thanks Lucky and Sanath.

  5. Could it have been Citric acid (lemon juice) in the pol sambol
    mistaken for Nitric acid?

    1. I am sure you are right, Rohini! It needs the astute, sure fire observation like yours to detect such a thing.

  6. Thank you Lucky and Sanath for posting this. I am glad there are people like Rob who experience a country by moving with the people and not by visiting a five star resort (Those places are all pretty similar in any country, aren't they?) I loved the photos and his comments, particularly about the tuk-tuk drivers and the cricket obsessed population. It made me wish that I were 40 years younger to do what he did. But, even then, I don't think I could have handled going down those hairpin bends on a bicycle! I think Rohini is correct; it should be Citric acid in the pol-sambol not Nitric acid.