Sunday, May 20, 2012

Live and unplugged in Kandy

It was live for me, anyway. You know, at the time

It won't have escaped your attention that I'm not exactly in the best place at the moment, both mentally and geographically speaking. It was tougher than I expected to get used to poor countries again, even though I'm far from being a luxury traveller and have spent most of the last two years in what could be arrogantly described as the Third World.

Most of the time I'm happy to assimilate - taking the local bus, eating at humble restaurants and staying at places that are not called things like 'Sri Lancashire Guesthouse' (it's like someone won a competition to come up with the hotel name that would appeal to me the least).

But when I arrive at a remote hotel that promises Wi-Fi access on its website and turns out not even to have a phone line, I tend to forget where I am and slide back into righteously indignant consumer mode. I'd considered taking some time off work and blogs and going unplugged, but didn't appreciate this being forced upon me.

Kandy is a World Heritage City and Sri Lanka's cultural capital, but the most important thing you need to know (and the highest praise I can give) is that it's not Colombo

I've been in this situation before and I doubtless will be again, so even though I rely umbilically on internet access for my job - and even though I'd already endured an uncomfortable, long-distance bus journey that day with a man's sleeping head lolling on my shoulder and his bony elbow jabbing into my pudenda region - I was able to look on the bright side of being cut off from the world and enjoy the natural beauty of Kandy for a few days, troubled only by the slight paranoia that my email account might be concurrently getting hacked again and this blog being bombarded with hateful, incriminating comments left by borderline psychos I really shouldn't have shared it with.

So it would be a lie to say I was completely relaxed, but my temperament was somewhere in that vague vicinity. Learning to relax would require undoing too many years of paranoid conditioning to be worth the trouble - just let me be, and give me at least thirty minutes of internet access per day from now until the blessed relief of death.

Like the tortoise in Mount Lavinia, this prowling monitor lizard cheered me up too.
Something about Sri Lanka appeals to my reptilian ancestry

In anticipation of comments along the lines of 'what did you expect?', I'm not new to this - I don't expect fast or particularly reliable Wi-Fi in poorer countries, but I don't appreciate being lied to either. I made a point of emailing hotel managers before I made further bookings in Sri Lanka, just to confirm they had what I needed, but there were still days when the connection just wouldn't connect and I had to look elsewhere.

I don't like depending on Wi-Fi this much, but I'd like doing a non-internet job even less, so I just have to deal with it. But now I've really seen the contrast between Wi-Fi in Sri Lanka and somewhere like South Korea, this will factor into my decisions over which countries to visit next. Even when it works, slow and unreliable broadband extends my working and blogging time considerably - from a couple of hours to most of the day - and that's not a sacrifice I'm willing to keep making. How was I so patient last year? Then again, I used to be happy sleeping in dorms too. When did I become such a ponce?

Sorry, that frustration-venting wasn't very interesting for you, was it? Don't worry, next time there'll be a shitload of elephants to look at. But for now, here are some birds:

And some cheeky monkeys:


  1. So... the important question. Did you eat any candy in Kandy?

    1. I wasn't fussy, I just had whatever scraps my monkey buddies left for me.