‘Colombo Heat’? Scorching, as usual, with the tropical sun staying true to form. So it’s a test of a kind right from the start. The action can get even hotter, but isn’t that what it’s all about? What better way to enjoy the sights of the busy commercial capital than on a vintage jeep – WW2 Jeeps or early Land Rover Series 1 for instance. These classics are true veterans who have seen the wars and ridden the rough. Now with their tops down, open to the elements, they take on the challenge of toughing it out in the city streets.
‘Murder on the Orient Express’? Not quite, thankfully; but a mystery nonetheless, and one definitely more palatable – an experience equally memorable, perhaps even thrilling. It happens on a journey right back into the grand old era of steam. To the days when the huffing and puffing ‘iron devils’ or ‘Yakada Yakas’ as they were known, rode majestically along the tracks surrounded by clouds of smoke, like storming dragons on a mission. Today, the Viceroy Special is the last of its kind: the sole steam locomotive in action in Sri Lanka operated as a private train on call for occasions just as this.
Fun on three wheels? It certainly is. Trishaws or Tuk Tuks as they are known locally are usually the daredevils of Sri Lankan roads. Loved and hated in equal measure, they are everyman’s mode of getting about. They whizz along the widest roads, and creep down the narrowest alleyways. So for a little bit of ‘treasure hunting’, the humble Tuk Tuk becomes the chariot of choice. The routes are carefully mapped out, the clues are given over – and the race begins with toots of horns and hoots of laughter. The more daring may choose to drive, but it is not for the faint hearted.
Islands in the stream? That’s indeed what they are. From the tiniest – so small it’s called the ‘5 cents island’ to the largest, where a 600 year old Bo tree is still worshipped – they dot along this stream; a river in fact, that flows long, wide and proud to the welcoming arms of the sea. The wooden kayak glides along the gleaming green water, dappled by spots of sunlight filtering through the mangroves that arch overhead, thick and entwining. Within this tunnel, the light is dim – cathedral like, and awe inspiring too. So is the silence; only broken by the quiet swish of the oars and the occasional cry of a water hen.