Sunday, June 3, 2012

How many New Years do you people need?

Four months into 2012, I'd already had to endure three new years in the countries I visited. The Solar New Year (1 January) and Lunar New Year (23 January) in Korea were easy enough to avoid, and the swarming streets didn't look much different from the safety of my tower. But the Sinhalese New Year in Sri Lanka (13 April) was a different matter, as the family-owned shops, restaurants and hotels that are so pleasingly prevalent in developing countries all took the day off so they could go swimming in the lake. Where's an evil corporation when you need one? I'm thirsty.

It was like being back in the UK during that dead period between 25 December and 3 January when the Western world shuts down (I never did work out what was going on there). It's my own fault for not doing my research, as I'm pretty sure there are websites and leaflets out there designed specifically to inform me about this. If I'd known the country would be sleeping for 48 hours I wouldn't have spent my Thursday uploading photos of old ruins on a tediously slow connection - I could have done some emergency stockpiling instead. But if there's one thing you will have noticed about me in recent months, it's that I'm incapable of planning ahead.

Water, water everywhere, so let's all have a swim

I didn't actually take photos of the naked swimmers.
You can find that sort of thing elsewhere on the internet (I imagine)

My impulse-bought two-litre bottle of ginger beer ran out around lunchtime on Friday, around the same time as my toilet paper, so I headed out to buy some essential water and even more essential toilet paper while ticking off another couple of local temples and ruins. There seemed to be a lot of cars parked by the lakeside and a lot of bodies in the water (still breathing by the sound of things, I tried not to look too closely). It was around the time I passed the local roadside restaurant I'd eaten powerful curries at over the last couple of days (the reason behind the toilet paper deficit), and noticed it was closed, that I realised what was happening.

I'd been sure to escape Thailand before the water fight horror of Songkran, which I knew was scheduled around this time, but hadn't realised these auxiliary new year festivities spread so far across South Asia. They celebrate with piercingly loud firecrackers in Sri Lanka, which is a shame as a water pistol in the mouth could have been handy in my dehydrated state - it's not like the dirty water would do more damage to my digestive system than the curries had already achieved. I could have just drank out of the lake, come to think of it.

But I can't really complain about my luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as the day I arrived in Sri Lanka's highlands there was news of an earthquake in the Indian Ocean that caused the whole south coast of the country to shut down in anticipation of a tsunami. That would be too much water for me, to be honest. If I moaned about not having Wi-Fi for a couple of days in Kandy, what heights would my indignant British consumer outrage have reached if I was still on the coast, having to read a book by candlelight like I was back in the Philippines during typhoon season? No one appreciates how difficult my cushy life is.

I wondered what would happen if I went into the Water Supply Scheme HQ and asked to be supplied with water. That's the sort of hilarious prank Tom Green would do (I imagine)

To cut a boring story mercifully short, I went back to my empty hotel, stole a water bottle from the unmanned fridge and wrote this pointless blog, making a mental note to tell the staff about the water purchase later, when they stopped enjoying their New Year like normal people and got back to the important business of catering for my every whim. Alright, so I'm not that high maintenance - especially in contrast to a guy I observed last week who was swearing and fuming at hotel staff because they were being too slow to connect up the TV for a football match that wasn't even starting for another half hour. I should always travel with an entourage of dickheads to make myself feel better. He was English, in case you were wondering.

Oh shit, I forgot the toilet paper.

There's something suspicious about Sri Lankan water companies.
I can't quite put my finger on it. Oh well, bottoms up...

[What someone who's never done drugs imagines it's like to be on drugs]

That night, in a hallucinatory fever, I had me another visitation.
The reptiles and amphibians of Sri Lanka are trying to tell me something.
I think it may be 'get out of Sri Lanka'

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