Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Matara the Bus Ride

Now that I have recovered from our return trip from Matara I can fill everyone in on the details.
Like many of our trips this one was planned pretty much at the last minute.
There was a communication breakdown with our driver. We had planned on taking the train south but he thought we had agreed on taking the bus. We were waiting for him at 6:45AM but he ended up picking us up at around 7:20AM.

He took us to the bus terminal which is a crowded, noisy and somewhat confusing affair upon initial appearance but starts making sense as you walk around. There are different terminals and signs that show the destination and the class of bus, normal or semi-luxury or a little of both, normal with a/c.

Our driver took us to the "semi-luxury" bus to Matara. Semi-luxury pretty much means there is air conditioning and no bench seats.

Because there is no under bus storage for luggage we had to pay for an extra seat to put our bags. All together 890 Rupees, about $8.50

We left the bus terminal and the bus conductor stands in the door saying "Matara, Matara, Matara" to announce to potential passengers where the bus was going. On our journey south the bus would slow down as it approached a bus stop and the conductor would announce "Matara, Matara, Matara". If someone wanted to get on the bus they pretty much had to run to get onboard as the bus never did stop at the bus stops.

Somewhere around the halfway point the bus did stop for everyone to have a break.

Back on the bus and after traveling for a few minutes there is a loud clanking sound coming from the left rear of the bus, I thought we had a flat. The bus pulled over and the conductor gets out as well as a few passengers. We then hear "BAM BAM BAM", it sounds like a hammer hitting something on the bus. Everyone gets on and we start traveling for maybe a minute when the noise returns. A little bit more banging, back on the road and the noise never returned.

A little further down the road the air conditioning broke and we had to open the windows, fortunately the weather was mild.

A little further down the road and "BANG", flap, flap, flap, yes this time we had a flat.

They changed the totally bald tire that had gone flat with a totally bald spare tire. Pretty quickly actually.

We are back on the road. I do have to mention that a few times along the road I saw my life flash before my eyes as dump trucks and other buses from the other direction barely miss our bus on the narrow road.

We eventually made it to our destination much to our relief.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

OH, but there's sooooo much more to the story! That is just the bus ride THERE and abbreviated at that! He didn't mention how he slept the first two hours because he'd taken a muscle relaxer due to back strain. Or, how, when he fell asleep that's EXACTLY what he did! FELL! Using me as his landing spot, which pretty much had me pinned up against the window. In a corner. In the BACK of the bus with no possible hope of escape.
About, the rest stop...By now, I HAVE TO PEE! I proceed to what can best be described as the "shack/outhouse" BEHIND the store, only to find a HOLE IN THE FLOOR and two blocks to put your feet on as you SQUAT OVER THE HOLE! Presumably to keep your feet from getting sprayed. I guess it worked. Kinda. Then, you sorta shake your ass cuz if there's no toilet, then why on earth would you need toilet paper?! OK, you get the picture...When you emerge, there are men. Alot of men, just standing around looking at you and you know they're picturing what you just had to do...AH, the joys of third world accomidations.
Back on the bus. We are now stuffed in the back row with two teenage boys and wonder of wonders, they have a mobile phone. This means our "entertainment" for the remainder of the journey (2 hours to go) is listening to LOUD, TINNY renditions of those rockin 80's hits we so love while we watch them gorge on chocolate and happily wipe their hands on the bus curtains!
So, you see, there's always more to tell....