An energetic start to the day, we leave at 8:30am with a reasonable amount of km’s to cover but it’s pretty much straight roads and easy going according to the map…so we thought!
The first 10 km’s from the hotel was a dirt track with huge potholes and a constant stream of trucks and tractors coming towards us, which had dust going everywhere. An hour later we finally reach a proper road and stop for more fuel. I feel like I’m still bouncing around. Looking up to the sky in the direction we are heading are very dark clouds…this should be interesting.
We press on and soon enough it begins bucketing down with rain coming in from every angle. While we are trying to get the covers down before the Tuk is completely flooded, we come around a bend and see a herd of cows on the middle of the road. We brake hard and the Tuk skids slightly due to the wet roads, and we come to a stop on the side of the road. Luckily no injuries and no minced beef.
Not long after afterwards, we can hear police sirens behind us and two men on a motorbike come along side flagging us to pull over. So we do. The officers are very curious about what we are doing driving a Tuk, where we are heading, etc…once we explain, they were both really happy and wished us luck. As we get ready to leave another 10+ Tuks all go past in convoy and they are shocked. One officer takes out his phone and begins taking pictures! We wave and say good bye.
We then arrive at the next charity location in a remote town 85km’s from the east coast which is our next destination. All the villagers are out and smiling as we arrive, its such a nice feeling seeing them all so happy and it’s a large village.
We hand out a bunch of items for the kids and talk with the adults about the water purification system that was recently installed. They explain how difficult it was before having access to clean water and having to walk a long way back to the next town and carry the water back. Clearly this system is going to help them a lot. We have lunch with them all and start preparing for the next leg to the east coast town of Trincomalee.
This is now one straight road of endless farms and the landscape begins to change as we get closer to the beach.
We arrive at the hotel and check in. I head back into the main town immediately to buy a few items and get dinner. Alongside where we park is a local game of cricket being played so I stop to take a look when out of the corner of my eye I can see something laying down in the grass watching the game. As I take a closer look it’s a deer with full horns! I go a bit closer to take a look when it sees me and stands up and stares at me. Worried it’s going to run at me, I decide to move back and observe and it then sits back down and starts watching the game again (well that’s how it looked). No one else is phased that there is a deer watching a game of cricket. I’m amazed.
We head into a few local businesses and to my surprise, most of them accept Visa Cards. I I begin talking with the shop owners who are very welcoming in giving me their feedback and sharing their experiences. The one common thread I hear from all of them is often the POS terminal breaks down and it takes weeks for it to get replaced from which they loose sales from the tourist who are visiting their stores. This is something I will be sharing with our banking clients when I get back. I get dinner, tea and even a sarong before heading back to the hotel. It was a pleasant surprise to see how easy I was able to find local stores accepting cards. Mind you, this is a tourist town with many visitors all year round. Are businesses only catering for tourist by accepting cards?