The Taster Journey – Adam’s Peak, Day 5

Day 5, Adam’s Peak

Day five started very early indeed, after a light sleep (probably because we were so excited albeit apprehensive about the mammoth task in hand) it was time to get up. We had to set off by 2a.m at the latest if we wanted to reach the peak before sunrise. We were actually up and out by 1a.m but. because there was nobody around, or in the lobby, we actually thought we were late and everyone had already started the ascent. Nevertheless Amy and I set off hand in hand and all to keen to reach the summit.

We ended up leaving the guest house at 1:15a.m, its was dark and cold, we had been walking for about 5 minutes when we saw a wild boar running across the road in front of us, followed by its troop of little babies. They darted off into the near bush and we carried on walking towards the peak. The road at first was littered with stall upon stall, selling anything from pictures of babies and children’s toys, too hot tea and flatbreads. It was far to early to start indulging on hot tea and flatbreads, we had only been walking for half an hour! The first part of the journey was along the road where all the guest houses happened to be situated, by us staying at the first guest house on the road we added a good 15 minutes to the journey from just walking past all of them. Finally we reached the beginning of the climb. only 3000+ steps to go!

The first leg of the journey wasn’t that steep, the steps were few and less frequent, but we knew the worst was still to come. There were may shrines on the way for both Buddhist and Hindu to pay homage too, so, at each temple we paid respect to Budda and I asked him the make to the pilgrimage as painless as possible for me. He must of heard my prayer as I actually found it quite easy on the way up. Amy, on the other hand, did not find it so easy, maybe she forgot to ask Budda for help, maybe he didn’t listen, but, for what ever reason, it was an up hill battle she wasn’t winning!

We came across a building that had 3 adorable puppies in the doorway of a temple, all huddled together in a little ball, trying to keep warm. Two of the pups were more than happy for us to stoke them, but the other was very weary of us and wouldn’t allow us to get anywhere near him. The mother was close by on the search for what ever she could find to feed them. We offered some bananas which they weren’t interested in and left some bread with them. As we left the mother started to follow us, in her paw steps was the weary one, he must have been the strongest of the three pups as the other 2 didn’t move from the spot where they were huddled up.

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Together, we continued walking until we reached a temple, 2 Buddhist monks stood around waiting for people to bless. This blessing required of you a donation to be made. In a book, stood a list of all the people that had made donations, the lowest was for 1000 rupees “gulp” as we were trying to do its as cheap as possible as we had not predicted the need of much money, wrong! We made a donation of 1000 between us, 500 each, we gave the donation and received a blessing in return. A blessing is what we needed because, this was the start of the steep steps!! Like I said, I didn’t find the climb too consuming but Amy was feeling the burn already.

We passed a couple who were also feeling the burn which Amy found refuge in, they were a nice couple the woman was from Singapore, the man was from Australia although, he looked like he like he was from Singapore as well and so took me by great surprise when he spoke with a strong Aussie accent. They, actually, were going slower then us, as the woman from Singapore was feeling the steps, even more so, than Amy, which made her feel a little, less pathetic. As we passed by them on the steps we said “hi” and I shared a moment with the man, he was having to slow right down and I felt his pain ‘women’, we said together in our heads, as we laughed at the situation. We lost sight of the couple and must have been walking for around another 20 minutes when we decided to have our first pit stop to refuel on some much needed tea and paratha breads. While we were sipping our tea, the couple we passed on the steps had caught up to us, and jugging by the expression on the woman’s face, she needed a bit of R&R too.

Tea and bread down we said goodbye and were back on the steps, only a few thousand more to go till we reached the summit! The path was illuminated all the way to the top, its was very calm and peaceful, you could barely hear anything except the monotone crunch of our foot steps on the laddered ground, left foot, right foot, left foot, so on, until we noticed the lights that guided the way were getting steeper, more vertical, it was a sign of things to come, much to Amy’s horror. Time for another quick rest to prepare ourselves for the final big push to the top. We stopped off at another stall which turned out to be the last shop on the way up, so it was a good job we took advantage of this, or, should I say, they took advantage of us! Costing 3x more then any of the other stalls, the guy was defiantly onto a winner there.

Here we go. The final push to the top, it was steep to say the least, basically, it was like climbing a ladder for about 2 kilometres, a harsh workout on the legs indeed. Nevertheless the end of the ascent was in sight. We had just about made it to the top, when we saw a monk was standing in a doorway to a small building. He was offering tea and food, at first we thought it was just another stall trying to make us part with our money, but when he said the word ‘free’ it required not a single thought more. We were in there faster then you could say budduserenai (may Budda bless you), the Monk was a jolly man and was more than welcoming, he handed me a ginger coffee and a bowl of rice and spicy bean curd. As you walked into the building there were three rows of benches to the left and a small kitchen to the right. It was full of weary pilgrims like ourselves, taking advantage of the free food and drinks. Well rested, we took to the steps once more, luckily for us it was literally a 5minute hike to the top and boom, we were there! Adams peak conquered, well, in a fashion, we still had to make its down!

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The views from the top were breath taking, totally worth the pain and suffering we endured, especially my ears which didn’t hear the end of Amy’s exhausted, yet humorous cries, but the worst was still to come.

Before we entered the temple we had to remove ours shoes, gloves and hats as a sign of respect. The temple itself was basic, there was a shrine built above the place were buddha’s foot step was supposed to be with a plate for donations, now the actual foot print was 9 feet underground, very disappointing to say the least, as we were expecting to see a lot more than a tapestry of a foot that you could have purchased from one of the stalls on the climb up. We walked round the temple soaking in all the mighty views to the sound of Buddhists’ chanting, Hindus’ praying and the ringing of the bell with every pilgrim to see the foot print, although, we didn’t actually ring it ourselves.

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Its an amazing spectacle seeing the clouds trapped in-between the valleys below, waiting for the sun to rise so that they could once again be freed from their nightly captors. Knowing it was only a matter of time before they would take their freedom, we took our place besides the other pilgrims and waited patiently for the sun to peak over the mountainous horizon. However, the Gods were all to unkind this morn’ and blocked the sunrise with an early escape of clouds from the valley below.

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Disappointment was in the air, we felt like all that effort was for nothing as we wouldn’t see the famous triangle shadow, but then we remembered its wasn’t about the sunrise, that was just an added bonus. We didn’t win this time, it was about the journey to the top and the satisfaction of achieving a bucketlist item – to climb, as pilgrims, to the the top of Sri Lankas most religious mountain. So after a bit of sun gazing and a few selfies it was time to make our descent.

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People had said to me “its harder going down than it is on the way up” but I always enjoyed the way down because, for me, the up hill battle is over, and on my journey down, this happened to be the case, but not for Amy. At first we were off to a flying start, running down the steps, we thought we would be at the bottom in no time, ohhhhhh how we were wrong. Yes, we did make good ground, at first, but it wasn’t to last long. About an hour into the descent Amys legs had well and truly packed in and the tears and tantrums were starting to show so, we decided to take a break at one of the tea stalls, but this time we didn’t buy any tea and just took advantage of their benches.

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I must admit running down did take it out of my legs as they had acquired restless shaking syndrome whenever they were at still. However, now wasn’t the time for trivial issues as we still had a long day to go if we were to make it to Homagama before sunset. Legs sightly more prepared we were off as quick as we came but this time just nice and easy. The views were so amazing going down. It’s a lovely contrast walking in the dark completely clueless of was lies behind the canvas of black that surrounds you on the way up. To see it completely transform before your very eyes, as if by magic, the darkness ceases and the light slowly seeps in triumphantly! Taking advance on the darkness, revealing glimpses of the lush land below, trees in an array of colours spread as far as the eyes can see, seemingly holding the mountains in place. With light now taking a firm grip on the darkness, the creatures start to come out,on the way down we were greeted by a giant millipede.

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Almost at the bottom now, Amys feet are all about ready to pack up shop and call it a day, but, with a little encouragement from myself (being the amazing man I so clearly am ;)…) she soldiers on. At this point we are trekking back past all the guest houses along the road to our own place of rest, there are people getting dropped off ready to start their personal pilgrimage to the top. I must say, we really wished that we had parked the tuk tuk as close to the start as possible, but we didn’t, so it required us to walk that extra bit farther, much to Amy’s dismay, who had now been walking with a limp for about 3kilometres and was all about ready to collapse. Before she knew it we were back at the guest house and getting showered, but the shower head had other plans and decided not to play ball and run cold, it was just another thing to send Amy over the edge. Luckily, I was always there to save the day, so instead of the water coming out the shower I pushed the lever so it came out of the tap, it allowed for more pressure thus enabling the much needed hot water to flow to her battle worn body.

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Can you tell that Sherard was the last to use??

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We were alive again, so now feeling more human we decided to pay the bill and set off on our journey to Homagama, the room cost, with meals included, 3342ruppes and then we were off again. We had to travel back the way we came as Delahousie is the end of the road, but it wasn’t all bad as we got to enjoy the rainbow eucalyptus once more and take in the retrospective views of Adam’s peak that we had just conquered.

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Adams peak

We’d been driving now for around two hours, when we came across a troop of monkeys on the roadside, at first we thought there was just one by itself but, upon taking a second glance into the bushes from whence it came, we discovered the rest of them. We pulled over to do a bit of nature documenting. Pulled out the camera, laid some bait (a few bananas) to tempt them out of the foliage. It worked, we captured some lovely shots. I like how they all seem to have a different hair styles.

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“Extra, extra!” With the scoop of the day in the bag, we headed off again and after a little while we came to a T junction called Norton Bridge. We stopped for a mo’ because we were deciding which way was best to drive, we could go both ways but on the map one route was shorter but was a smaller road too and that meant their was a good chance it was in a state of disrepair. We went for the slightly longer road but it didn’t add to much time to the journey.

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We were about ready to set off again when a little dog that went by the name Bonnie came to say hello. Like most of the dogs in Sri Lanka, he couldn’t resist a bit of attention, so we gave him a bit of fuss then his owner came out to say hello. She was called Maliai, she was a lovely lady, about 60 years of age and no sooner as we said hello, she ripped a leech from my leg without another word. She offered us a cup of tea and a quick chat, we couldn’t refuse. So entered her house and took a seat while she made us a brew. When she returned with tea and biscuits she told us how she had been to England because her brother was a doctor there. We drank up as we needed to get a move on if we were to get to Homagama for reasonable time.

We set off once more and we weren’t to stop until we reached a little town about 2hours away from our destination. We stopped to give Lucy a rest, as we pulled over we were greeted by a group of of young Sri Lankan lads, I was cautious at first and my suspicions were confirmed when one of the men took us to a quick eat place and the man behind the counter tried to charge us 500 ruppes for a chicken thigh! We kindly laughed and asked if he was joking, he apparently wasn’t so we left and went to another place which was much cheaper.

After returning to the tuk tuk to eat our food, one of the lads had parked his tuk tuk next to mine. His was red and was a 4 stroke, it had pictures of little new born babies plastered all over the seats, we asked them why all the tuks had pictures of babies, it seemed to be the thing in Sri Lanka and we said we think it’s strange. They couldn’t really give us the reason for it though. One of them asked if he could have my necklace (a gift from local fishermen) which I found unusual and slightly rude, so since we had finished our grub we decided to leave.

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Right! Final haul to Homagama, let us be having you! Driving in the city is always a lot more stressful, by the time we reached Homagama my tether was fraying dramatically and coming into the city at rush hour traffic while it was absolutely chucking it down, on 4 hours of sleep, certainly wasn’t helping the matter. The first guest house was, lets say a disappointment, we left and pulled up to another, we were greeted by a man who had just driven into the car park, he claimed he wasn’t the owner and had been staying at the hotel for about a year whilst away on business. We got the room but were a little perturbed at the state of the room, not to mention we didn’t even get a key! At this point we just didn’t care I had been driving for around 8 hours!

The man who we met in the car park told us that there was an Indian restaurant just 500 meters into the town so we jumped into Lucy and headed off to the place, it wasn’t a restaurant more like a quick eat place. Amy didn’t want to eat there so we jumped back in the tuk and pulled up to another place only to be greeted by a man (who I think was a little drunk) saying this place wasn’t for us. We asked why? His answer was “because the people are such”. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise and it could of saved some drama, but, it didn’t, the man wouldn’t stop talking and with nothing but food and bed on my mind I just wanted to get out of there. We got to the next restaurant and looked at the food only to see flies buzzing around everything, it be came all to much for me and I snapped a at Amy. This put dampener on the already damp night so we just went back our room for the night. We asked for a bed sheet to go on our empty mattress, it arrived and was absolutely filthy and that was the tipping point for us. We left. We do NOT recommend The Solid Hotel in Homagama to anyone!

Back on the road we pulled in to get some much needed cigarets and while Amy was in the shop, I went into another to ask the man if he knew any body that had any rooms for the night. He rang his friend, we agreed on 1500 rupees and he gave us the address, we were off like a shot. We pulled into this funky place only to be told it wasn’t the right place, it was next door. We drove to the right place and things were looking promising, the hotel – Godagama Beach looked as nice as next door, we were on to a good start at last! We asked the woman if they had a room and at first She said it would cost us 3500 rupees but we told her that we had agreed with the owner on 1500 and with a quick call to confirm, plus a 10% service charge, we got the room.

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It had everything! A swimming pool, room service which we took full advantage of. The food was nice but we over compensated for our hunger and ordered to much – chicken stew, chicken Chinese noodles, battered mushrooms and chips. We didn’t care, it was a happy ending after all, a great room at a great price and even better; food and room service at a fantastic price!

Goodnight!

Below is a table of costs we incurred during the whole day, it cost the two of us:

Donations

LKR2000

Food & Drink

LKR500

Cigarettes

LKR200

Petrol

LKR1660

Sweetbread

LKR75

Breakfast

LKR150

Water

LKR145

Chicken & Rotti

LKR270

B&B & Dinner

LKR4609

Total

(£47.05) LKR9,409

We hope you enjoyed our post, if you have any travel stories you wish to share please get in contact and we will get them on the blog:

a_swift@hotmail.co.uk

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