Both of us were pulling our luggages, avoiding and entertaining super-eager touts approaching us. It was burning heat 3.30pm. Alex’s body was crying out in pain and exhaustion…

The bus dropped us far before the bus stop indicated on our guide book at Dambulla. It was at least 1.5km away from where we could find accommodation. After walking for 15 minutes or so, we jumped in an auto rickshaw to bring us to the first guesthouse we wanted to stay. No luck! Price doesn’t match the quality of room. We moved on… a couple of others weren’t within our range, we decided to take a break and walked into this little place for two bottles of coke. “You only want coke? You don’t want to stay here?” A lady with head full of white hair asked us with an amusing smile. “It depands.” I smile back. It was not on our hunting list…

‘Oasis Tourists Welfare Centre (r from Rs400) A cheap place almost directly opposite the entrance to the temple car park, this is dark and rough, but all rooms share a reasonable bathroom. One room with attached bathroom is available.’ It was written on our lonely planet guide book. ‘DARK and ROUGH’! No thank you! We have on the road for 5.5 months, rough enough. We need to feed our comfort zone.

While drinking and resting, the lady showed us her guesthouse’s comment book which her husband contributed half a page, along with other comments and addresses from previous guests. The writing expressed his regret for not being able to receive his guests himself due to his illness. The lady was quite insisted that at least we take a look at the place. Why not? Our biggest weakness is when dealing people who appears to be nice to us, and she was very nice to us. As usual, I did my round of checking, while Alex looked after the luggages… Wow! I saw something else that wasn’t mentioned on lonely planet… We stayed! For two nights we took the one room with attached bathroom.

the living room attached to our bedroom.

The house contains a few rooms surrounding the centre dinning hall, while kitchen and the family lives at other corner which you could hardly find. “I wonder where they live.” I said. It was indeed a rather charming place, especially the room we took. We had a bedroom connected to a little living room and bathroom. It was dark and a little rough (as what lonely planet had written). The roof was  our main concern, it was all zinc and batches here and there, surely leak if it rains.

In late afternoon, we accidentally bumbed into the old man in the kitchen while we’re exploring their little garden. So obvious that he was very sick. He lied on a cushion chair, looked weak and skinny, a pile of pills and medicine lying on the table. He waved us sat down for a chat, though it was hard for him to have a proper conversation as he relied heavily on an hearing aid. He spoke good English though. We hanged around there for sometime while the lady and her sister were preparing dinner for us. “Now you know where they live.” Alex said. I felt sad that they living condition is not much better than living on the street. Just that they have a roof and the homeless doesn’t.

Dinner was great, but Alex’s apetite was completely off.. She had been complaining about her recent developed aches and pain on her back and shoulder.

Next morning, breakfast was served beautifully. Alex had a high fever, 38.5 degrees, my God! We had a choice of moving into a more comfortable place, or go to Kandy, a larger city with adequete medical facilities. We took our last decision – stay put. Alex needed rest and she spent whole day sleeping. The living room was perfect for me – reading, writing, doing some artwork and ocassionally went out to buy stuff. When I was bored of all these, I went to the kitchen to order dinner, ‘chatted’ with the lady and her sister. With limited language command, they finally realised I am actually a girl, not a boy. I have to showed they my little breasts, they both TOUCH, laughed and hugged me… Wow! It was a little… too intimate. Then I brought back a cup of herbal tea for Alex, offered by the lady. Late afternoon was raining and water dripping through the roof.

breakfast and dinner were searved at this beautiful living room.

Thank God and Buddha the next morning, Alex felt much better and her fever subsided. The lady offered Alex a glass of hot lemon juice instead of tea or coffee, and charged us the price of one set breakfast. It was time to go… I felt extremely sad of their livelihood. We were the first customers in the past 2 months…

the lady, her sister and her grandson.

Jing      

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