The journey spent from cycling to Anuradhapura has taken a huge chunk out of my body and I wasn’t sure whether I could wake up the next day. Thankfully I did and we set off to Jaffna at 5.00AM. There is no traffic on these roads and especially in the morning it’s all smooth sailing. In the morning we passed through parts of the ancient city until we reached the Jaffna junction.
We knew the route up ahead was not going to be easy because to cyclists, the A9 route is never forgiving. This part of the country speaks in Tamil and you can notice the villages end with the term “kulam” as in: Mankulam, Puliyankulam, Kanakarayankulam etc. Kulam means tank – in Sinhala it’s called “Weva”. (Yesterday we passed many villages that end with “Weva”.)
There was a cycle race taking place where the target was to cycle from Anuradhapura to Vavuniya. Luckily we didn’t appear as a threat to those pro cyclists. It was New Year time in Sri Lanka and these stuff are highly encouraged by the Forces. To our luck we went there before the race and managed to reach Vavuniya before they did. I kid you not the road was filled with hills and those guys pedal so fast with their modified Lumala bikes. Yes – this is the black Lumala bike seen by every street vendor and village dude. It’s one of the best bikes ever made!
The ride from Vavuniya was very challenging because we entered a location which hasn’t seen any development even after the war ended in 2008. Not enough greenery to go around – only the tall Palmyrah trees and they barely provide shade. We stopped at a few cool spots. I enjoyed these places because they make one of the best faludas under the trees. The sun was terrible because this region is located in the dry zone. I had the privilege of meeting a few boys from the village who wondered why I was cycling in this unGodly hour. They also came on their bikes so we cycled towards the only restaurant in that area. It was very vegetarian, but at that point I didn’t care.
I took my power naps under the trees when I knew I couldn’t cycle with my eyes shutting off. In this part you come across a few shops and there was an open tap in this location where I had a cool bath – Gah. It was heavenly. I drenched my towel and wrapped it around my head instead of wearing my helmet. It was one of the steps I took to prevent myself from dehydrating fast.
In the evening we reached Kilinochchi – a crowded town which has all the shops and buildings. This used to be a kill zone during war times – it’s remarkable to see the development in these areas. The famous water tank that was destroyed by the LTTE is located on the side of the road. There are plenty of historical places that were preserved after the war in these areas, but we didn’t have time to visit them because we were on a tight schedule to reach Jaffna. The hotel we were staying over on this day was situated in the East side of Jaffna – so we had to take the road to the left in the junction at Paranthan.
These villages are populated with Hindus – therefore you see a lot of kovils along the road. People here don’t eat beef so maybe that was why we found so many cows here. When I first saw this place on the map I was confused as to how we were going to avoid the ocean.
Crossing the peninsula was exciting because you are cycling up the bridge, the wind is blowing from both sides with a touch of warm air from the road and then you get to cycle all the way down in high speed. It;s absolute freedom at that point. After crossing the peninsula you pass the silent fields in the villages. The roads are absolutely dark over here – no street lamps. Saroj as always was the fastest and reached the location an hour before me. The last ten kilometers of any journey is the hardest and I was much relieved when I saw the Nallur Kovil. Near Nallur was the famous Rio and Lincoln Ice Cream Parlor. I can’t imagine how Jaffna started making some of best ice creams in the country. Anyone going to Jaffna will always have an ice cream at Rio.
We reached our Cosy Hotel in Jaffna and bought our dinner from a nearby shop. The journey today was much better than yesterday because we did 197 km and reached our destinations earlier than expected.