Daily Archives: February 21, 2013




Bastion’s hostel close to at Chundkuli Junction in Jaffna provided an excellent room and base while I had a good look around the city. There remains a huge military presence all over the city. Every junction or significant landmark was manned by armed soldiers. It seemed nesomewhat incongruent. The war is over. The LTTE are long gone. It seemed like the military were clinging on to their salaries in the name of ‘security’. It is overkill and which causes resentment amongst the residents. On the upside the military help prop up the local economy with their spending. In time tourism will fill the economic vacuum the departing forces will leave behind. Meanwhile it feels like martial law. When I took a photo of an armed patrol I was told to delete the picture off my phone.
Jaffna itself remains an important city and trade centre albeit cut off by air and rail. Once the ‘rehabilitation’ is complete the city will regain its place as a major player in the Sri Lankan business world. The Dutch fort on the seafront has massive walls but sadly there is little else left as it was heavily shelled by both sides during the war. It remains currently occupied by the military. I visited the railway station which had been home to many displaced families and now evicted prior to work starting on a new station.

IMG_1478 IMG_1484Riding up Temple Road I went past the back of the Nasar Kandasamy temple and saw a large congregation at a meeting hall. I was invited in to view the wedding taking place. I was taken aback by the hospitality afforded to me and introduced to a number of VIPs. I was offered food and drink and told to get as close as I wished to the stage to take photos. I was somewhat embarrassed by such generosity but snatched a few pictures with as little imposition as possible.

IMG_1500 IMG_1506 IMG_1510I particularly enjoyed my visit to Jaffna and met some great, very warm hearted people. Incredible when one realises the suffering endured by people during the war. At one point when the LTTE knew that the city would fall to government troops they forcibly marched all of the citizens out. The Sri Lankan army then occupied an empty city. I spoke with one man when visiting a temple whose younger brother, a high school student, disappeared. There remains a large number of people who are unaccounted for.
Jaffna retains an South India vibe. It has much in common with Kerala and has a majority Tamil, Hindu population.
For my part I discovered beautiful Hindu temples and excellent food. I revisited the Nathan Food Center in Temple Road for some wonderful tea, roti, buns and sweets. The best!

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I met a pair of German touring cyclists and advised them to stay at Bastion’s. they looked quite dishevelled and exhausted. Their bikes were caked in mud. We compared notes and they advised that the Western coast road that ran South of Jaffna Lagoon was in a bad way and practically nonexistent. I told them of the military zone to the North and which radically altered their planned route.
I set off from Bastion’s and waved goodbye to the owner. After a slight mistake as I rounded the coast I found a brand new road that crossed the Lagoon via a good bridge. Once on the other side my problems started. There was no road…

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Jaffna Peninsula


Sadly my plan to stay camped on the beach ran aground. During my enjoyable afternoon on the beach I met two friendly local Tamil people. One was collecting washed up rope to sell. This proves the saying that there is money in old rope. Later in the afternoon a man cycled by but only stopped briefly to spy my tent in the old military compound. Within the hour I was being interrogated by a Sri Lankan army midget dressed in tennis clothing. He had turned up with half a dozen young off duty soldiers to assert themselves at my expense. I was told by the gang leader that it was a dangerous area and that thieves operate there. I insinuated that the most dangerous people likely to steal from me were the kind of people taking an interest in me at that moment. They were acting like adolescent squaddies looking for fun and I was on their ‘turf’. One unzipped my tent so they could all look in. Surrounded by this circle of young men the alarm bells began to ring for me. I wondered if they were going to give me a kicking for fun. I have no doubt that if I had been a local Tamil that I would have been a more suitable target for their entertainment. So I packed up my stuff pretty quickly and hot footed it away from the scene. It was a little frustrating as I was a long way from my next stop in Jaffna and the light was starting to fade. I returned to the main road and thankfully found half decent hotel (JJs) with friendly staff.  I chose to head, once again, to the Northern coast. My ride took me past long minefields marked with red flags either side of the road. Many buildings were in a bad state from war damage.  I visited a busy covered market to buy supplies including a fish for dinner.

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From the A9 I cycled North towards the fishing town of Point Pedro and stopped at a temple and then a local cafe for afternoon tea with some local guys.

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Point Pedro has some significance for Sri Lankans as it is the most Northern point of the island. The jetty is as far as you can go. It is a busy fishing town and like everywhere in the North undergoing some rehabilitation. The coast road is littered with fish drying in the sun. Many are contained within nets to keep insects away. I met a group of fishermen and had a good natured chat.IMG_1427 IMG_1433 IMG_1440 IMG_1441

I was unable to follow the coast road as it was under military control and off limits. Every time I dropped down to another road heading West towards the airport on the North Western peninsular I was turned back at checkpoints. Eventual I had to use a main road to Jaffna. I found another great looking temple which I believe was devoted to the Hindu elephant god Ganesh.


IMG_1448 IMG_1447With the light fading and a fish to cook I pulled in to the ruins of a house to use the kitchen. Back on the road I made one last dash for the city of Jaffna.