Up early this morning for a big walk on the beach while Leo had his swim.
After breakfast we caught the boat back over the river to meet our driver who was taking us to Udawalawe National Park so we could go on safari. Before hopping in the van Leo asked the driver how long it was going to take to get there.
The driver replied, "3 or 4 hours".
Leo said, "3 hours sounds good mate, let's get there as fast as we can".
We were going to regret Leo saying that.....
In the van we hopped, on went the hazard lights and off we went a million miles an hour, passing on corners and weaving in and out of traffic. If I wasn't used to Beijing traffic I probably would have been scared. Fran started popping motion sickness tablets like they were going out of fashion. Kellie seemed to be handling it like a champion, Leo went quiet which is always a worry and I started to quietly have a panic attack. I wasn't worried we were going to crash, I was more worried how I was going to get home.
I started to think I would have to live in Udawalawe National Park for the rest of my life as there was no way I was getting back in that van to go back to the resort.
Leo mentioned he was getting a helicopter back to the resort, maybe I could fit in as well I was thinking to myself.
I thought about asking the driver to stop before I got sick all down Fran's back but then I thought what's the point I will still have to get back in the van so I sat calmly and thought happy thoughts.
After about 2 hours Leo shouts at the driver, "You better f*^#ing slow down mate, it's not a f*&#$ing race".
I am hoping the driver didn't understand what Leo said but he could tell by the tone of Leo's voice that he wasn't happy.
Us three girls piped up and said, "Please slow down, please, thank you" and just like that the driver slows down and we all seem to sigh in relief.
Kellie then comes up with a wonderful idea that we should have a little stop and the driver pulls over at a little shop so we can stretch our legs and have a cold drink. Fran goes up to the driver and apologizes for Leo's gruffness and the driver says, "Your Poppa said he wanted me to get him there as fast as I could that is why I was driving so fast".
Leo wasn't too keen on the driver before but he then grew to hate him once he heard this story. Leo was then stuck with the name of "Poppa" for the rest of the week.
I'm happy to tell you we arrived at Udawalawe National Park in exactly 3 hours and in one piece, ready for the safari.
There was just the four of us on the safari and a guide which pointed out things along the way. We saw crocodiles, lots of pretty birds, water buffalo and elephants. I was thinking that we might get to see an elephant in the distance but we saw heaps of elephants. We watched them playing in the water and some came so close to us we were able to get selfies with them. The driver would stop when we got near a herd of elephants and we would all just go silent and gaze at them. They were mesmerizing.
It was then time to go back to the resort......
The driver assured us he would drive slowly. We were all starving as we had missed lunch so we asked the driver if he would be able to stop on the way back for us to grab something to eat for dinner. This wasn't as easy as it sounded as today was a holiday for Sri Lanka's Independence Day. The driver stopped at a couple of restaurants but they weren't cooking today. He then stopped at another place and they just had some cooked food that looked like it had been sitting there for a month. We all looked at each other and decided we were lucky to survive the drive, we didn't want to now die of food poisoning so we told the driver to drive on. Eventually the driver pulled up at an Army Food stall where all these lovely little soldiers were having their dinner and we were told they would feed us.
They cooked us up a big plate of kottu roti which is chopped flatbread mixed and mashed together with chicken and vegetables and lots of aromatic spices. Oh my goodness, it was delicious and well worth the wait.
The poor driver was still apologizing for his driving as we were saying thank you and goodbye but he got us back to the resort safely with a great story to tell.
TO BE CONTINUED....