ONE LONE COP CREATES SO MUCH CHAOS!
Snippets took recently widened D.M. Colombage Mw at rush hour at 5:30pm hoping to reach Nawala Rd and on to Nugegoda – a 05 to 10 minute run depending on traffic. But did NOT bargain for one  solid hour literally being stationery 05 minutes at a time before inching my way along the dusty D.M. Colombage Mw. And when I reached the Open University T-Junction there stood the causative factor: A Lone Policeman incredulously stopping lanes of traffic on 3-sides, abiding by dictates of his imbecilic cranium! Mr. IGP – we motorists are sick and tired of all this preventable buffoonery! Please REMOVE such ‘Lone Cops’ away from T-junctions – most drivers know how to get thru with a natural ‘Give & Take’ – Cops should NOT direct Traffic, unless due to some emergency due to say, a sudden obstruction on center of road/highway. These Lone Cops contribute big time for Traffic Snarls – costing billions!
THAT LONE COP’S ACTION CREATED TRAFFIC GRIDLOCK FOR MILES ON 3-SIDES!
It was bad enough being ‘marooned’ down D.M. Colombage MW but when I reached the main Nawala-Nugegoda road it was no better – thanks to the ‘antics’ of this Lone Cop – who himself created absolute traffic gridlock for literally miles towards Nawala & Nugegoda, both ways! This then is a challenge to the DIG Traffic. Just as an experiment REMOVE Cops manning T-Junctions and check the difference in movement of traffic. No Mr. IGP, this is NOT rocket science! Remove the ‘Lone-Cops-from-T-junctions and FREE traffic’, pronto!
CIRCUITOUS ELLA TRIP
Snippets loves to air his 4WD Ford Ranger 3.0 litre Turbo Diesel when a tempting long weekend comes up. And so this time Ella beckoned wife Nilani and yours truly – started off lazily at 7:30am [not the usual frenzied 4am!] and took the Southern Expressway, from Kottawa, only to turn off within a few moments at second Interchange at Gelanigama and joined the A-8 going thru Horana & Kiriella to Ratnapura where we decided to have breakfast at Ratnapura Rest House.
RATNAPURA REST HOUSE
We thought that the revamped new clean and efficient all round look associated with both Pussellawa & Kitulgala Rest Houses would ‘welcome us’ at Ratnapura RH too – what a disappointment! The old white colonial structure up on the hill still looks imposing but the service is simply lousy with hardly any choice of food; to add to our woes, my wife realized that ‘Female Toilet’ could not be even locked! After a forgettable breakfast re-joined A4 at ‘Goodshed’ Ratnapura.
BALANGODA TO BANDARAWELA
This drive never ceases to evoke great memories of my tea planting days as I headed via Pelmadulla, Opanaike and Balangoda. [Balangoda, incidentally was where my late maternal grandfather Don Edwin Balasooriya made his mark as arguably the first local fully fledged tea planter under then British rule – first as an Assistant Superintendent at Wikiliye Estate and thereafter proprietor Boscombe Estate, Balangoda vide Ferguson’s Ceylon Directory 1920-1933] As hunger pangs had not yet ‘shown up’ decided to press on sans a ‘Pit-Stop’ at Belihul-Oya RH; however we did pull up briefly for a ‘Cuppa’ just beyond Non Pariel – an inviting casual ‘sit-out’ adjoining the A4 – cool!
TO BANDARAWELA VIA HALDAMULLA, HAPUTALE & DIYATALAWA
Always a pleasing journey climbing up the famed Haputale Pass were one can literally see the southern coastal tip of our island with the Great & Little Bases lighthouses on a clear late evening; this time being near noon, a haze had built up so visibility was not that great; sadly the tea fields which were years ago one green carpet of tea, now morphed to that of mostly scraggy, twiggy tea bushes with unsightly vacancies, adding to the gray bleakness.
BANDARAWELA HOTEL FOR LUNCH
This venue still continues to be brilliantly well maintained and still offers some great food; our appetite was well satiated but whilst about to take a helping of desert the quietness of the place was rudely shattered by an entourage of MSD vehicles and the usual cacophony of sounds in varying decibels with the head honcho of the motley group emerging from one of the Land Cruisers still with garlands around his ample torso [must display these garlands to the hoi polloi no!!]; one wonders why MSD security is offered to this non-Minister politico who is only head of a TU! Anyway nothing seems to deter display of opulence and splurging funds of the State even by political has beens!
Bandarawela once described as the ‘most salubrious’ upcountry city has now paled into a mostly overcrowded, badly planned town with far too many vehicle workshops, garages and hardware shops lined up on either side of road leading thru town – hardly the ‘Green Look’ one would dream of! Yet on the other hand ELLA is something else! The place was buzzing with foreigners busily trekking up two mountains close by or cycling or eating out in the myriad fancy restaurants – night or day! The whole of Ella is now an incredible magnet for mostly budget travelers although the costs for us locals were far from ‘budget’! Anyway this once sleepy one-street bazaar is a haven for tourists. May this tourist gem of Ella continue to attract more and more travelers to its scenic sites, hill tops, waterfalls, jungle tracts etc.
Snippets drove around his old haunts – he was planting at Demodera Group, Demodera between 1971 & 1973; the place has hardly changed over the years! The world famous ‘Demodera Railway Loop’ and the Nine Arches Bridge still drawing curious onlookers from the both the local community and even our foreign guests. And so onto Badulla via Haliella. Badulla too has hardly developed with its numerous streets crisscrossing and jaywalkers having a field day making the streets like one hell of a pedestrian crossings and giving it that overcrowded and cracking to its very seams look! Uhh! Pathetic!
PASSARA – NAMUNUKULA
From Badulla we drove up to Passara – this section of roadway is being widened and developed; hopefully it would be a breeze to drive on in an year or so, though currently it would pose a challenge to cars; not my 4WD Ford Ranger that seems to enjoy lapping the kilometers whatever the road surface. And so after having a sumptuous lunch at an old friend’s Morris Bungalow [see photo] – a beautiful colonial estate bungalow offering a commanding view of the Namumunukula mountain range as a backdrop! Really a sight worth seeing! After lunch Snippets took the Passara – Namunukula mountain road that finally wends its exciting path back to the high ‘Hot Spot’ of Ella!
RETURN TRIP VIA WELLAWAYA / TANAMANWILA / MATTALA AIRPORT
instead of re-tracking same hill country route that I came on, decided to have a ‘change of scenery’ and drove down the ‘Ella Gap’ route to Wellalwaya, a distance of a mere 27km and then on to once-elephant country – Tanamanwilla; and instead of turning West towards Uda Wallawe and Embilipitiya, Snippets illogically pressed on towards Mattala Airport – at least to zoom on wide vehicle-less roads with flyovers here there and everywhere as these newly built but hardly used highways epitomize the brainless schemes of moronic politicians who ‘presented’ us with an Airport sans planes; a Port without ships; a BMICH type mega hall, theatre, auditoria etc without theatre goers; wide highways with all possible infrastructure without vehicles – honestly dear readers – you should drive over to these mega projects – where it’s WASTE personified!
HAMBANTOTTE TO MATARA
The drive from Hambantotte to Matara is a tad tedious because of the relatively narrow road-width and high traffic volume; in fact at Ambalantotte the traffic ground to a halt as some worthy had decided to conduct a religious ceremony slap bang on center of road – halting traffic for miles on end! Well this is Sri Lanka – never without its surprises. Yet, life goes happily and regardless!
A much longed for break to enjoy a hassle-free Expressway Drive; hopefully the Wellipenna new Fuel Station would be set up sooner than later. And so after 624 km absolutely trouble-free run it was back home-sweet-home in my trust reassuringly reliable Ford Ranger.
Plan that road drive, weeks ahead and check all liquids before that trip – and NEVER Ever, Drink & Drive – we all want you to enjoy life, so protect life & limb. Remember: Alcohol/Drugs are NEVER part of LIVING LIFE as it was meant to be! So Do Always Take Care! Dyan [firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com]