Planning Ahead before Long Drive: Liquids / tyres / Music / Road information
When a ‘long weekend’ a la Sri Lanka comes along, Snippets plans ahead, weeks ahead – hotel bookings, confirmation from planter mates re Bungalow availability and of course the car itself, days ahead – checking all liquid levels, when last oil changed/when due, health of tyres & spare, checking PSI, then even the music on offer loading ‘recently not enjoyed’ music CDs and USB etc. ‘Trip-Items’ packed, bags carefully fastened and then we are ready to go! But not before double checking on planned routes.
Double checking by calling 1969 & 1968
During inclement weather it’s always advisable to call both 1969 and 1968 before embarking on road trips on our Expressways and RDA roads. Yours truly did the same and got an all clear on Expressway to Matara. However ‘1968’ told me that some sections in planned route were inundated in Ingiriya and Ratnapura areas. So route plans were changed for Nugegoda-Namunukula: first leg on Sunday 27th May, choosing Expressway to Matara, then heading to Wellawaya on to Ella and finally to Namunukula – to a planter mate’s charming tree-fringed bungalow located in the hills off Ella. Yes, you can set off on a trip in the dripping monsoon with minimal disruption if you do your ‘homework’ and ‘due diligence’ first.
Matara – Hambantotte road is a pain to drive on
Due to its lack of width and traffic emerging from all sides! Let’s hope for Matara-Mattala Expressway ASAP! Anyway, we pressed on passing Dondra, Dikwella, Tangalla, Ranna, then at Nonagama turned left and got on to A18; road surface was well pre-mixed and pleasure to drive; swung right at Padalangala and drove on the famous [Adi Seeya Para] towards Sooriyawewa, ignoring Boards indicating Cricket Stadium & Mattala Airport and instead concentrated on reaching next port of call: the once Elephant infested Tanamalwila which re-joins the A2 and drove on relentlessly under bright sun passing Kudaoya, Telulla and reached Wellawaya before noon.
Ella to Namunukula
Thereafter it was a breeze to climb up to the tourist hot-spot Ella and turn right to Passara Road which ‘welcomed’ us with the worst road surface of entire drive! The pity is that even the Badulla-Passara and this Ella-Passara Road have been in a state of repair for months and months as personally experienced last year! Apparently the Pradeshiya guys have not been paid by the State for the work already done like covering up put holes with metal stones etc! Such tardiness will sure give a negative perception of ability of authorities of getting a job done well and in time! It’s time now to kick butt! Lunch and overnight stay at a Tea Estate bungalow at the foothills of the mountain, plus a wash to my trusty X-Trail Hybrid.
Second Leg of Drive
Snippets did not relish thought of driving on the terrible road surface of Ella-Passara road again at least for last 8 km section to Ella. So yours truly turned off at Ballakatuwa and headed towards Demodera – I served as a young Assistant Superintendent under the legendary Ranjan Wijeratne during the early 1970s at Demodera Group; so the drive evoked many fond memories. From Demodera joined the A16 [Beragala-Hali-Ela] highway and proceeded to Badulla, turning left at St Mark’s Church T-junction and descended passing Dunhinda Water-Falls entrance and continuing downhill passing a once dirt poor area of Meegahakivula – now totally transformed and looking quite prosperous!
From there, it was to Mahiyangana and thereafter, Wasgamuwa Sanctuary, our red X-Trail Hybrid lapping the kilometers with ease. Hettipola, Pallegama, Bakamuna and to one of our favourite hotels thereafter, Kandalama, set amidst a real jungle of trees and shrub, overlooking the wide expanse of Kandalama tank. Just in time to appease our ravenous hunger pangs!
On our second day, we decided to drive over to catch a glimpse of some Elephants– we more than caught a glimpse, as Elephants were seen by us aplenty: crossing main road literally in front of us and of course the Pachyderms were frolicking in the shallow waters amidst the setting sun; affording us a superb photo-opportunity. The ‘Elephant detour’ was well worth it, to say the least, eventually!
Back to Colombo!
The return was through the A6 – Dambulla to Kurunegala via Galewala, Melsiripura and Gokaralle – clean, orderly towns where traffic was well-behaved too. However, Kurunegala evaporated all this with the usual chaos of jaywalkers, etc…
Brief stop at Ambepussa for a “bio-break” and a cuppa, on to Kadawatha where we joined the Outer Circular Expressway and it was back to home sweet home.
Post Drive Attention
The Nissan X-Trail Hybrid clocked a whopping 833 km on entire trip at a healthy fuel consumption average of 16.8 km/liter; pretty good since certain sections were driven at speeds in excess of 80 to 100 km/hr only to limit speed to 70 and below on Habarana – Dambulla – Kurunegala due to Cops nabbing anyone ‘doing’ 70 km/hr and more with their new ‘Speed Guns’ – annoyingly, ‘overtaking blind or on left does not warrant Police action! We need Traffic Police in mufti on the move to be more proactive and effective!
Snippets got the X-Trail professionally washed including under-carriage, interior vacuumed and exterior waxed – its back to its original sparkling best! And you know what – it’s ‘pulling’ far better than before the trip; meaning Hybrids require a good airing to get the power throbbing again! TIP: Attention to detail, plan that trip, ticking all boxes and then ENJOY! Of course one needs a great companion for company. I had my friend and wife who always joins me on such driving adventures – she, Nilani is great company and hardly dozes off en-route!
Safe Driving! Cheers! Dyan [email@example.com & firstname.lastname@example.org]