A long short cut and a white elephant


We left Ella at six and dropped through Ella Gap – a gorge slashing down to the plains. We passed the Rawana Falls and stopped for breakfast in a clean, green breakfast stall hanging off the side of the road. We were a little early for the proprietor and had to wait a while for his first roti of the day. In the meantime the buffet was stocked with various curries. We had the dhal and vegetable, didn’t have room for the capsicum and chilli sambal and gave the liver a wide berth.


Our time here is running out and we needed to get to the coast. This meant a distance of 100km to ride but with a full 1000m of altitude to expend the first 30km would be free of effort. The winding descent and spectacular views made for memorable cycling. Gradually the temperature rose and all too soon we were out on the plains.

We passed and regrettably didn’t photograph the extraordinary golden Iran-Sri Lanka Friendship Monument in Wellawaya.

Bike with beans

We had several disappointing cups of tea – too weak and too sweet but finally hit on a solution. We will now order two black, unsweetened teas and one white and decant as required.

We ate a pineapple and bananas at a fruit stall. They gave us the bananas as a gift and we gave them an extra R50 for the pineapple so we all felt virtuous and happy.

The stall owners encouraged us to take a ‘shortcut’ along an almost unused Chinese-funded freeway, through wild elephant country and past the almost unused, Chinese-funded Rajapaksa International Airport (this is ex-Prime Minister Rajapaksa’s electorate). We saw many buffalo but no wild elephants and consider the freeway and airport to be white elephants.

These people used the highway to dry and bag up their rice crop

The shortcut was only 15km longer than our intended route and we finally made it to the fishing town Hambantota and enjoyed a swim in the guesthouse pool.

There are few signs of the tsunami and many colourful fishing boats run up the beach within the boat harbour. Outside the harbour the beach looks lethal for swimming with waves breaking against steeply sloping sand.

We met Fatima (centre) and friends on an evening walk around Hambantota

Our route:

One Response to “A long short cut and a white elephant”

  1. rosalind powrie Says:

    So much appreciate the title of this one Ian and Rosalie it reminds me of a piece of freeway in Capetown that suddenly stopped in midair as money had run put.Can almost smell the roti and curriesxRos

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