Day 5 – 31MAR2014: Polonnaruwa -> Badulla
Distance: 150 km
Time on bike: 6h 27m
Avg. speed: 23.2 km/h
Total: 436 km
Altitude: 650 m
Pre-breakfast atmosphere in Polonnaruwa. It’s 8AM and the air is still crisp and cool.
It’s a fantastic day. Sun’s up, traffic is very thin once I hit the rural AB44 east of Polonnaruwa, no wind, and freedom in the heart.
Snack time in Dehiattakandiya (!): Bananas & Watermelon (mini version), total 0.70 USD.
Mahiyangana downtown. In my corner of the world, people usually use umbrellas to prevent getting wet. Here in Sri Lanka people (mostly women) use it as sun protection. Same products, different cultural/practical values.
Buddha also resides in Mahiyangana. Around 70% of Sri Lanka’s 20.000.000 people are Buddhists. Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity are the other 3 dominant religions here.
Lunch time is (or ought to be) a feast in Sri Lanka: rice & curry is the standard grub. It’s available in all towns and villages, it’s dirt cheap (100-150 Rp or around 0.75-1.25 USD), it’s delicious, it’s spicy as Hell, and you can have as much as you like. You just ask for more rice and/or curry. Very cyclist friendly!
The cycling just gets better as the day grows. Traffic is virtually non-existent on rural roads B57, B580, B36 along huge water reservoirs (Loggal Oya). World class!
I don’t feel like stopping at all today. Just wanna keep riding those wicked backroads. The landscape gets hillier as I approach the city of Badulla from the north. To the west the beautifully rugged Knuckles Ranges reach for the sky. Rice fields, tropical vegetation all around.
For the first time the benefits of traveling on a super light carbon road bike really show: I’m positively flying up those hills. Landscape is awesome. My GPS tells me some of the inclines are 12%, but it doesn’t feel like that on the road bike. Now and then I overtake heavy-loaded trucks – the potential of the bike really unfolds in this hilly territory.
St. Marks Church, Badulla.
After 150 km of great cycling, I make it to Badulla (Altitude: 650 m. Population: 50.000), and find the Thilina Guesthouse at the southern end of town. A clean, fine room is just 1.000 Rp/7.5 USD.
Power failures happen frequently. Tonight is no exception…
…but I don’t really care, as long as I can get my plate of fried rice…