Hey, so i finally found an internet cafe thingy – scandeously priced i might add! Right so where am I? … Sri Lanka that its, so if your sitting comfortably i’ll begin …..

Well after a slightly teary (yes i am a wuss) farewell to my parents. I sat in depatures nervously shaking and thinking ‘what the feck am i doing??’. The plane journey was actually ok. It was empty for a start so i could stretch out, and there was some reasonably edable food and the tv was ok, i slept mostly though. After ten hours or so we touchedown in columbo airport. Getting through customs etc was simple enough and i was met by Roshan (project co-ordinator) outside. I was then quickly wisked away to where i would be staying, it was around a 25 minutes journey. I was still in a bit of a daze, trying to take in all the sights, five minutes in and i see a bloody TNT office, just my luck!  It’s sort of westernised in places here but not if that makes any sense, its all wood and tin shacks, but with coca cola signs. The major brands are present but theres been very little development.

It was (and still is) difficult to believe i am here, this far from home. Anyway, that first car journey was quite an eye opener, and you can probably guess this place is not too similar to the wonders of uxbridge.

Ja Ela accommodationAs we reached the hostel i was pleasantly supprised … its nice, very nice! apparently it was supposed to be a 3* hotel but travellers rented it instead. I met a few other volunteers. Harry and Eilene who are both doing projecrs out here, Harry has been doing a law placement and Eilene a journalism placement, they both leave on friday though. I then met Rob who’s the liason. Since then Samie and Nick have both arrived, they are both doing journalsim.

The first night i had/endured my first tuk-tuk ride. A tuk-tuk is a three wheeled scooter type thing (see the picture). They’re fairly nippy and dont the drivers know it. The driving out here is chaos!! I’m not exactly sure if theres a driving test out here and i’m even less sure that anyones passed. It is quite exilerating ducking and diving in and out of the vans and coaches on a little three-wheeler, quite nerve racking too! The only way i can describe it is if you imagine the fast and the furious … but in dell boys TIT car. Not only do they loads of speed bumps out here but they also have bloody chicanes! Of course the drivers see this as more of a challenge then as a speed restriction method. There are also loads of army and police present by the roads, we’ve already been checked a couple of times. In a way it is re-assuring that they are checking anything/anyone suspect … its just when they start asking for a bribe to be allowed to carry on, or a fag etc. That pisses me off a bit …. cheeky buggers.Sri lankan volunteer house

Anyway, getting back on track, we went to the supermarket and got a few drinks – 600 ml Carlsberg = 90 ruppes, work our as less than 50p, HAPPY DAYS!!! That said i didnt really last the night as jet lag set in.

I havent done any teaching yet, only sports coaching, but i’m happy with that. The general trend seems to be that we work mon-thurs and then go off exploring fri-sun. This weekend we’re off to Kandi to see the tea plantaions and temples.

So far i’ve coached a one school and one club, but between the two i’m coaching every day, mainly early mornings (today i was up at 5) and evenings. The clubs wicked, they are an older bunch 18+ so i can do a lot more with them. One guy (i think he’s quite well off) knew all about english football, even heard of QPR and sir les. We had a fairly long chat and he told me about his business, gave me his business card, and then the next training session gave me one of their work uniforms. Think a few of us from the club are going out to dinner at some point, and their currently checking to see if i can play for them on the weekends. I’ve taken part in training, gone in goal for shooting practice etc which has been good ….. yes i have been nutmegged once already.

Ja Ela schoolThe school is also nice, i walk there and back as its not too far, about 25 minutes. The walk is …. an experience. Lots to see and smell (some smells the reading festival toilets would be proud of). Its also quite sad to see all the stray dogs, and there are loads! The stalls selling fresh fruit and fish are cool though. Anyway, the school is good, they are a lot younger so i have to keep things simple, but they seem to enjoy it so its all good. Today (friday – i’ve done this update over two days so it might be a little confusing) is a bank holiday so theres no school. The school football coach instead took me up to Negumbo, to a sort of youth centre – the sri lankan Biker Grove i guess. It was right by the sea so i chilled on the beach till everyone arrived. The coaching was ok, on clay though, not a blade of grass to be seen.

In our spare time we’ve been going to the local hotel AGH (Airport Gardens Hotel) which has a pool and a gym … and a bar. Got half cut at the bar on my second night and ended up falling over a plant pot back at the house … it came out of nowhere, blatant red card offense! AGH also has a chinese. I went to the chinese the other night, top stuff and again so so cheap. Did sit out by the pool the other day and caught a bit of colour, its a nice pinkish/redish colour thats now peeling slightly … but considering i can get burnt under a light bulb its no great supprise. My t-shirt sun tan is coming along very nicely though!

Columbo is also only an hour away and theres loads too do there. I went in the other day and visited their world trade centre and twin towers, also went to the hilton for lunch, worked out at 5 quid each. The night Samie and Nick arrived we also went for a night out there. It was saturday so we watched the eng game and then went to a club …. Zani bar … hows your luck! Cut a few shapes in there and met a few english girls who work at the embasy over here.

In recent nights we’ve just been watching DVD’s. They cost the equivelent of a pound, and sometimes theres five films on one disk. Its quite funny that all the major, known retail outlets sell knocked off DVD’s. Already picked up the essentials – team america, anchorman and family guy. Also managed to pick up a sri lankan sim card out here, cost 2 rupees (near enough a penny) to send a text …. home, not just in sri lanka.

Well i’m afraid thats it for week one i think. No doubt i’ll get five minutes down the road and remember something else i’d have wanted to include, ah well. Hope your all well, if somone could let me know whats happening in ‘lost’ that would be greatly appreciated.

thats all folks,
Neil.

Proceed to Sri Lanka Part 2