Posts tagged city
Posts tagged city
Miserable weather in Manhattan but we trooped on (for some reason i trooped on in flip-flops) and squeezed both of us through the barrier at the Subway station and headed to the ferry terminal for Statten Island. The outward journey was cramped, everyone squishing together to try and take a photo of the tiny Statue of Liberty in the dismal weather. The way back was much more relaxing (but still riany) as we made our way towards Manhattan again the skyline came out of the mist and we took touristy Liberty photos. We shopped until we couldn´t anymore and then ate a New York cheesecake in bed, definately ready for some sunshine, waves and a break away from the city
29-11-2011 Manhattan Skyline in the rain, New York, USA
28-11-2011 Looking down, Manhattan, New York
Up at an unhealthy 5am and Me and Rich set off in our tuk-tuk to Galle. It was pitch black and as we passed the small street shops and the cool breeze ran through the tuk-tuk which was a refreshing start to the long hot day ahead. The sun was rising as we reached Galle train station where we picked up our train tickets to Galle for 160RP (£1). Sat on a little bench, we were passed by locals, mostly catching their morning train to work. Aaron and Ben had taken this train a few weeks back and told us we would be packed in like sardines from the moment we left Galle so we were confused when we had seats to ourselves and shared the carriage with a few ambling locals.
I was slightly disappointed with the train, I’m not sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t to dissimilar from National Rail. There were a few differences that kept you firmly in Sri Lanka; the guy selling hot breads which smelled like onion instead of coffees, the Sinhalese language floating around the train and more than anything the views. The views were a up-close and ever changing glimpse of Sri Lanka. Leaving Galle took us through Jungle, through rail side shacks and through local life. The tracks took us to the coastline which was so close to the ocean that if there was more swell we would have been splashed by sea spray from the rocks. The views changed again when approaching the Capital Colombo, we ran along side the beach with an expanse of flat water the the left of us. In font you could see a few skyscrapers running close to the beach, sort of like Sri Lankas’ immensely undeveloped flat version of the Australian ‘Surfers Paradise’.
The train gradually filled up as we got close and ‘busy’ crept up on us until we were well and truly in the center of it trying to get up the stairs of Colombo station, surrounded by locals rushing to work. We headed in the direction of the immigration station but gave up in the now sweaty heat and got a tuk-tuk instead.
Three flights of stairs up was the air-con immigration office. I did a Candy thing and filled the visa form in orange pen and had to do the whole thing over again including the queuing. The immigration man saw me, looked at my form and said “you’re very beautiful” followed by “you can’t fill this is with orange pen”. Poor Rich was sat there for another 45minutes while I joined 3 or 4 different queues as a few officers shouted out numbers which appeared to be in no particular order. Apparently you get served by country and I was lucky to be British. I got my Visa back, passport stamped and we were outta there pronto. We then did the most touristy thing ever. We asked a tuk-tuk man to take us to the nearest McDonalds. Oh the shame. I’m pretty sure we got ripped off and passed the same building three times but we did get to see a little bit of colombo which we would’ve missed otherwise. A cultural tour on the way to Maccas…there is so much wrong with that sentence.
Maccas was like a palace, it was the cleanest place I’d seen in Sri Lanka, shiny shiny floors, at one point I felt to dirty to be in there (when do you ever feel too dirty to be in McDonalds). The staff seemed happy to be working they and obviously took pride in the place. It made me think that it was probably a well-paid job to a local and possibly hard to get, almost the opposite to us here in the U.K.
Back in the tuk-tuk who ripped us off a treat to get back to the station where we found out we were two hours early for our train back. We stated walking in a direction away from the train station to find ourselves walking through, what can only be described as hell. Busy narrow pavements with shops selling crap in the midday sun. Back in a tuk-tuk where we got slightly less ripped off and dropped off at the beach front. Theres nothing that calms me like a beach front. So we got some ice creams and strolled along the seafront, past ice carts and a long wooden pier, beautiful and quiet. We passed a lake where Rich sighted his first ever Pelican and then walked back to the station.
By time we got there we were so excited about the prospect of sitting down on a train again we got on the wrong one. We walked through carriages and carriages looking for the 2nd class berth but got nowhere so we took a little wooden seat anyway. This was more like it, a large open window to stick our heads out of whilst moving. Concerned about where we wee heading I asked a group of woman dressed in mIlitary uniform where we were heading, the answer went something like “dsjhfguknfchgndkfdshuskj” -definitely not Galle. We looked at each other and started laughing. Rich got talking to a local journalist who told us which station to get of at and change trains.
The scenery for the next half hour was real Sri Lanka, rows of shack houses in a line all along the tracks, their washing sped out over the gravel drying in the afternoon sun. A group of school kids departed the train in bright white uniforms.
We got off at our stop. We were just stood there, in the middle of nowhere, two white people on a platform surrounded by locals. Our next train was what more what i had in mind when i thought of Asian trains. I like to think of myself as brave and strong but I was glad to have Rich with me at this point. Sometimes having someone with you makes situations that would normally be stressful be fun or at least calm. Walking along side the train looking for an empty carriage was not working so we jumped on and squished ourselves between a mass of local men situated in the door way.
This is one of my favourite things I’ve ever experienced. For the next 2hours or so we crammed in amongst these people, every 5minutes a lady would barge through with a basket of fresh prawns and some sort of chillies followed by a guy with a box of pineapple squeezing themselves between us all. It was the opposite of our morning train and I loved being a part of that environment. A few stops on and the train began to gradually get quieter until eventually me and Rich had the doorway to ourselves. We spent the last hour or so sitting on the step and hanging out the open doorway. The wind from the train blowing at us, the jungle and shacks almost within reaching distance. The train winding in front of us like a massive snake moving through Sri Lanka.
This day was a change of pace from our usual mellow hours spent on the beachfront. Don’t get me wrong the sand and sea is what I came here to enjoy but as for something new, the train journey back to Galle was a prized experience and the day was a welcome change full of good memories.
After yet another terrible sleep I was in no mood to find out that there was suddenly no 830am bus and we had to wait until 11am to get out bus to Kuantan. We sat outside Macca’s in the station and after a hot milo (best drink ever) I got myself nice and comfy by lying on the floor outside a phone shop. Got a nice 30minutes kip but apparently everyone that walked pass was staring at me. I eventualkly had to move as the phone shop was opening and I probably wasn’t a good selling point. ‘Come buy a phone…just ignore the sleeping backpacker at the entrance’.
When we arrived at Kuantan I nearly bit a taxi drivers head off, I was not happy to be in yet another busy city station listening to yet another Taxi shout. We got to the local bus stop and waiting for a bus to Cherating. It was a looooong 1hour and1/2 on a hot smelly busy bus until we reached Cherating. As we were nearing the scenery changed and the side of the roads became littered with little warungs and wooden houses.
When we began walking down the dirt path to the beachroad i was automatically calmed and a sense or reliefe came rushing over me. I don’t think I will ever be a City person and although I’ve seen some awesome things this past week I was gasping for some peace and quite away from traffic. It was already dark by time we’d checked into our guesthouse and found a warung to eat in but there was this sedated feel about the place and I instantly felt comfortable.
Beautiful Paris- views from the Eiffel Tower(April’09)
i love that you can see buildings right up to the horizon