It’s the Day after Matthias left, so I’m back to socializing with some fellow travellers. When I get to the living room to get myself some breakfast, I meet Gabe and Flore. We start chatting and they invite me to come with them into town. They’re both solo travellers and they just met as well. We make plans for the day and not long after, we’re on our way.
We start by walking the Viharamahadevi Park. It’s a beautiful, peaceful place compared to the rest of the city, so it’s definitely worth visiting when you’re here. We ‘have to’ cross it as well, because the art market we want to see, is just outside the park down the road.
The art market is a stunning sight to behold if you’re into painting. Stalls of artists are lined up at the side of a large road. Every stall you go to, the artists themselves talk about their paintings and almost every single one of them is incredibly happy to talk about it.
I decide to buy one. It’s a small painting of two young elephants that painter Ranjith drew in Pinnawala. It’s not too colorful, but it’s actually just a drawing on canvas, done with pencil. Gabe and Flore decide not to buy anything and we go back to the city centre.
I show them around the market place. Flore is a photographer, so she manages to take some beautiful street view photos. One that stands out for me, is when she asks a mother and her child to stand in the doorway of their home, looking straight into the camera, smiling. People here are always smiling.
However, I can’t help but feel like I should’ve gone to my next destination today. I discover that the city lifestyle has been fun, but now it’s quite enough for me and I want to go to places beyond here. But I do enjoy the company of these two, so I count myself lucky.
Underdressed but fancy; taking a swim
After strolling around the market place, we decide to enter a fancy hotel. The woman who complimented me on my smile (which you can read about here), told us right before we went into town that there is a beautiful pool up there and that it’s really cheap. So we figured we might as well check it out.
Entering the lobby though, it immediately becomes clear that we are far too underdressed. We’re wearing shorts, carrying backpacks and we’re wearing flipflops. We’re basically screaming ‘TOURISTS’ to all the guests and staff there – who are all very well-dressed, of course. Yet still, we’re being treated incredibly well and a tall lady with a lot of make-up on guides us to the pool.
It’s completely empty, but it looks amazing. There’s a lounge set where a handful of people are relaxing and on the other side is a bar. We get one of the many empty pool beds. We get a 0.5 L beer, a pizza and unlimited acces to the pool. Wich is only about 7 EUR. And I’m talking LUXURY. I mean, in most places of Europe, this place would go into about 50 EUR for one hour. I’m flabbergasted, but I’m definitely not complaining.
We take a swim, have something to eat and basically chill the entire afternoon. It’s refreshing, for we’ve been walking around all day. We leave again at around 6.30 p.m. and take a walk along the ocean.
A friendly creep
We stop at a bench where we meet a man sitting there. He’s very friendly and interested where we’re from. After some talking, he takes us to the Dutch Hospital, a place with a lot of bars and live music. We sit and drink and we’re having a good time, but after a while, the man gets a little too interested in us and starts to flirt with Flore – unsuccesfully. She’s getting uncomfortable and Gabe and I decide we should maybe go back to the hostel, leaving the man behind.
So we get up and tell him we want to go home. He doesn’t seem to get it and keeps telling us to stay. But we’re determined to go. He still doesn’t want us to go, so he follows us and even gets into our tuktuk. We don’t know what to expect from him. Of course, he hasn’t done anything wrong yet, but the vibes – these are some bad vibes, my friend. He follows us all the way to the hostel and there we finally leave him.
When we’re back in the living room in the hostel, we talk about it and we all feel like we got out there just in time. We’re a little shocked and we don’t feel like doing anything anymore this night. Until we meet Mandy.
Now, Mandy had been in this hostel the entire time while I was here, but we didn’t really talk that much yet. I knew who she was and she knew me, but a long, deep conversation hadn’t yet occured. But tonight, we start talking. Turns out she’s going to a gig from one of her friends’ band. She invites us to come with her and I suddenly feel like doing something fun again this evening, so we all decide to come with.
Mandy gets us a couple of Ubers and we drive up to the party, somewhere up the hill in the city. It’s a rooftop club. Part of it is on the balcony, part of it is a bar and a stage. The band is really good; especially their singer is amazing. It’s a fun night and we all exclusively drink cocktails. In the meantime, Mandy and I hit it off at the bar. She tells me she’s interested in learning Dutch, because she wants to move to the Netherlands. I try to teach her some words – which is always a great way to conversate at a bar.
Stargazing and unexpected company
After a fun night out, Mandy, Gabe and I decide to head back. We get a tuktuk and I’m sitting in the middle. I can feel Mandy pressing her body up to mine. It feels good, so I let it happen. When we get home, Gabe goes straight to bed and Mandy and I decide to stay up together. We walk up to the balcony and watch the stars. We’re finally alone. At least, we think we are.
Because who decides to show up all of the sudden? It’s the lady who complimented me on my smile – that still strokes my ego a bit, I can’t deny. She came across to me as such a kind lady, really, but this wasn’t really what Mandy and I had in mind. We talk with her for more than an hour. That’s LONG.
Finally, she leaves, but up to this point, we’re both tired, so we go to sleep. I feel bad we didn’t have some time for ourselves, because I felt a real connection and I know I will leave for Kandy the next day.
We brush our teeth together, at which point she laughs at me and rolls with her eyes for not drinking the tap water, but drinking from a bottle instead. “You can use it to brush your teeth, just don’t swallow it.” I take up on her advice. After that, we leave the bathroom. My room is on the same floor, but she has to go down one level. “Good night,” we whisper to each other as I watch her walk away. There’s a stroke of light coming from the staircase around the corner, while the hall itself is pitch-black dark hole. It leaves me with only her silhouette. She’s holding her ponytail while she wanders off.
The next morning, she’s just in time to see me before I leave again. My bags are packed and I’ve had breakfast already. I need to be in time in order to get the train to Kandy. It’s a rushed goodbye, but it’s a good one. Gabe and I will move on together.
I’d have forgotten all about it, if not for two days later, when I’ve already seen Kandy and Gabe and I have just arrived in Dambulla, I suddenly get a message from Mandy on Facebook Messenger.
Where are you now, Sem?
And so it continues.