The A2 to Matara


Before mentioning anything about today, I have to say that Ian’s critique of yesterday’s woeful shortcut was nowhere near strident enough. Cyclists are suckers for shortcuts, but we should have known better as it was obvious straight away that this was not a good road. It was devoid of shade, human activity, and even traffic as it went where nobody wants to go – that is an international airport where no aviation takes place. It took us through degraded countryside that was dominated by lantana and other exotic weeds. It gave plenty of warnings against wild elephants but no self-respecting elephant would spend any time here! It made for tedious, dispiriting cycling. It was interesting only for the fact that it showed massive investment in vast and expensive infrastructure that is not useful and will probably be impossible to maintain and therefore a complete waste. Enough said on that topic!

The highway out of Matara

This morning we rode the first stretch on a Rajapaksarised highway, then reverted to the A2 for a hot ride punctuated by several downpours. This is a rice growing area with many small towns and continuous activity along the roadside. It has been moderately stressful with fairly heavy traffic. We ride on a narrow shoulder between the vehicles and a 1m deep storm drain. There was a near miss when two buses narrowly avoided collision, an event that, had it occurred, would have been disastrous for both vehicles and probably for us as well. The general approach seems to be that if you want to overtake, give it a go because it will probably turn out OK. Also if you want to enter the roadway it’s fine to drive contraflow on the verge and swerve across when the opportunity arises. Given the number of dogs and cows on the road, there is surprisingly little road kill. There are a few lucky cows who nearly didn’t make it through today!

Give way to cows

We seem to be in a roti-free zone and had to breakfast in a bakery. Sri Lankans are fond of white fluffy bread and there are many bread vans (tuk tuks) that deliver loaves, buns and rolls, announcing themselves with the incessant electronic versions of tunes such as Fur Elise. Fortunately we came across a government sponsored food centre promoting and serving traditional Sri Lankan food and here we had hoppers and wade with sambal and coconut chutney.

Wade with sambal and coconut chutney on banana leaf

Sri Lankan people are extremely friendly and call out and wave to us everywhere. They are always keen to do business and we are often approached by people offering accommodation, souvenirs, drinks and food. However, this is never done in an unpleasant way and a rejection is accepted with a smile.

Once past Tangalle, our route took us close to the sea. We are staying near the town of Matara which has a history of Dutch and Portuguese occupation, with forts, a clock tower and other remnants of colonial times. The sea is rough and turbid.

Gateway to Fort, Matara

Our route:

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