Rebellious fun moment that went a bit dark…

Posted on February 1, 2014

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So i’m here in Sri Lanka right now, here’s a photo of the view I have from my balcony where I’m typing this post:

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I’ve been updating my travel blog when I can, which is sporadically. There’s so much great stuff for that blog in my head that’s not made its way online which is a shame, but I would be constantly writing if that were case.

This last few days I’ve been wanting to switch to my journal though. I don’t need my facebook friends to know all the details of my trip, especially as people only wanna hear the good stuff. But i’ve had a mild to rough couple of days (albeit sprinkled with some sugar). And i’m in ‘paradise’. So I can’t publicly complain.

But I had a blip yesterday where I had realised the constant attention from the local boys/men/beggars/tuktuk drivers/tour touts was starting to get to me.

Actually, that blip started the day before when I found myself crying on the beach after a blind and deaf man came over and started asking me for money. My first thought was ‘oh for fucks sake’ (I know, i’m an asshole. But that really was my first thought. By this point it had been a bit relentless between the bracelet ladies, overpriced coconut man, ikea bag ladies wanting to push their trousers and dresses onto you and whatnot). But then the blind man handed me a laminated piece of paper that showed me his destroyed from the Tsunami home, and a letter that said he was poor and trying to feed his family and save to be able to give them all a roof over their heads again. And I immediately hated my middle class self. Big fat tears rolled down my suncreamed face mixing with the salt from the dried sea water on my skin, stinging a bit as they left skid marks down my cheeks. Or so I imagined.

It came after an awesome day sightseeing with a driver I hired for the day. In Sri Lanka its quite the common thing to hire a car and driver/guide even though that’s the most expensive way to get around. It does mean you can cram a lot in and easily get from A to B. My driver was a young lad, the younger brother of the tour operator who booked my tour for me (so it turned out, although I didn’t appreciate this at first). I think he gave me his brother because his English was not so good and I’d wanted a more budget friendly option. He was a nice enough lad though and we tried to make conversation – the usual ‘are you married’ was fired at me from the off, to which (this time) I replied ‘yes’ (whilst I slid my left hand under my lap). We paid a fake fisherman 200rupees (about £1) to pose for the iconic Sri Lankan tourist photo which was fun, if not a little disappointing. Where were the real fisherman? Still, its a beaut of a photo:

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My driver and I had a laugh about it when I called the fisherman a ‘Sri Lankan model’ and soon despite the language barrier we were laughing lots and I was taking the micky out of him for putting his sister on the phone to me (which I thought was to practice her english, turns out it was for another reason). Either way, we were relaxed and having fun.

I now realise this is translated in Sri Lanka as flirting and will no longer do it. Later his older brother (the tour owner) told me not to sleep with his baby brother! As if!

But that aside, the day started out well. I went to a crappy little over-rated Turtle farm, a super old tea plantation where they make this special expensive white tea that’s super special because no one ever TOUCHES the leaves throughout the whole process (although my gut feeling is that maybe its all bollocks – for example, when my tour was over I was led into the gift shop to sample some teas and the owner of the plantation introduced himself, then suddenly his phone rang and he was saying things like ‘sure, you’d like 50 orders of the white, 10 of the cinnamon and what was that, 30 packets of the yogi?’. I thought of a used car sales man who picks up the phone and does that when a customer walks in. Still, I bought some. So as not to be rude 😉 and then my driver asked me if I liked Elephants. I said ‘yes’. Who doesn’t like Elephants?

4000 rupees later, my driver’s made himself an additional 1000 rupees for his time (around £5) to take me to his village, which wasn’t far away at all and i’ve paid £15 (which isn’t too bad I suppose) to bathe in a lake with a 7 year old fella called Samsara. Or maybe it was a girl elephant. More than I was willing to pay but I kinda had a ‘fuck it’ attitude and I was having fun.

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But then after that, wherever me and my driver went on the original tour I’d bought, he kept asking me if I liked certain things, and at first it seemed like a fun game, where I thought he was going to spontaneously take me somewhere new and exciting that wasn’t on the tour schedule but I then cottoned on to realising that nothing in life comes for free and ended up saying rather abruptly to his question of whether I like snorkelling (after being asked if I like boats, whales, diving, beaches, parties and leopards – and then finding myself nearly parting with all my remaining cash getting caught up in the moment) with a sharp fat NO.

After agreeing to a 2 day motorbike tour with my new friend for a mere $150, and then having to sheepishly cancel it later due to lack of funds, I not only felt like a wally but also a bit bleugh in general about all these new friends I keep making. They all seem to want something.

Either way – I’ve just realised my blip didn’t start on this day. It started a few days before, when I was in Hukkaduwa.

I’d had a weird evening.

Where were the tourists I could hang out with? The backpackers?

Hukkduwa is a typical tourist street you get anywhere in the world. Pretty characterless, restaurants and shops on either side of the road with a beach running parallel to it. I passed a shed load of relatively unfriendly couples, some older groups and lots of Russians.

I hated it.

But I wanted to embrace my first proper night in Sri Lanka and  refused to admit I hated it, so found myself having dinner and some beers with a British couple and it was Andy’s 52nd birthday the next day. Nice people. It was nice.

But then the mood changed.

I jumped in a tuk tuk and had my first experience of the tuk tuk driver party boy scene and lost my bearings for a bit. He caught me at a particularly embracing moment shall we say, so when he offered to take me to a party I thought ‘fuck it why not’ but made it clear if it was shit then I wanted him to take me home. It was shit.

But he’s not willing to take me home just yet and insists my first night in Sri Lanka isn’t going to end like this. He loves British people it seems and thinks they’re great fun and kind people and he wants to repay some of the hospitality he’s received over the year’s from British tourists. One of them even bought him his tuk tuk he says. It’s bullshit, obviously. But I was in a fuck it mood. And he seems fun.

Before I know it, he’s taken me somewhere into the jungle down all these little lanes and my gut is saying this is not good, and then he pulls up at this house and says ‘don’t worry its all good we can chill here for a while’ and my gut is doing somersaults but that feeling doesn’t extend to my legs which intrepidly walks into the house thinking that it’s FINE, he’s not gonna try anything (and just let him – i’m bigger than him), besides he’s just being friendly. And I’m imagining there are other people in there, I might meet some cool people I tell myself, knowing that I’m bullshitting myself now.

Anyway you can guess what happens.

Inside he takes of his shirt and starts to roll a joint.

He goes quiet and suddenly the chatty tuk tuk driver is Mr Serious. I try to keep the tone light and fun but he’s still quiet and not engaging with me in conversation and I thinking to myself ‘he’s planning how to screw me’. But I tell myself i’m being dramatic, just to take the edge off, even though I know he’s at the very least gonna try it on. So I decline his offer to show me ‘around the house’ and I step outside ‘to get some air’ and just get the smoking of this joint out the way as quickly as possible. I even help him smoke the the frickin thing because I figure I want him LESS STONED. I don’t understand my logic in hindsight, and maybe a little part of me thought the whole experience would be less weird if I partook in the smoke. Even though I’d professed a million times to him that I didn’t smoke.

Afterwards I say ‘right, lets go now – I can’t stay otherwise my guest house will be locked’ then immediately think I’m an idiot because that would just give him reason to suggest I stay, so I quickly backtrack and say that the truth is actually that my guest house owner will be worried as I told him I would be back hours ago. He says ‘you don’t need to worry’ and goes inside the house. He needs to chill for a bit he says.

Anyway, i’m a tiny bit stoned which is annoying, I’m stuck in this house and every fibre in my being is telling me to get the frick outta there.  Obviously. If anything, he’s just a bit of a dick and I can’t be arsed with him anymore and I just wanna go back to mine. In order to get him to do what I want, I realise I have to play nice. So I decide to just put it out there, nip it in the bud. Speed up the inevitable. I tell him in no uncertain terms that I’m not gonna fuck him (with a smile), that he seems like a cool guy but I have a boyfriend back home and this was never about that, that I only see him as a friend.

He seems shocked. It’s an act. He says he likes me though, and really doesn’t wanna leave just yet. He wants me to stay and chill with him for a bit which is the last thing I wanna do obviously, so I decide to dom the fuck out of him and be uber assertive and I tell him he can chill later, that driving me back now will be much easier, and I put on my bossy hat and slap his knee and say ‘come on’ and I nod my head in the direction of home. To soften the blow I say that maybe tomorrow he can be my driver and show me some sights.

He’s quite responsive to this approach, I console myself and think maybe he was just trying his luck then, that maybe this is the situation western girls have created for themselves by often ‘being up for it’ or having holiday romances with local guys. But then he tries to kiss me. Not just once either. Even when I said no, firmly, he tried again.

The funny thing is, he’s really having to get up on his tippy toes to reach me. That gave me a sense of power. A sense of one-upmanship. He couldn’t even reach my mouth to kiss me.

I carefully pushed him off me – I didn’t want it to get violent. I then turned his head when he tried again. I laughed and told him to stop being cheeky, and said ‘otherwise i’ll start to get pissed off’.

On the way back to my guest house he started calling me on my BS. Challenging some of the things I’d said about him being my guide the next day, about how I wanted to be friends. He’s not as stupid as I thought. And I ended up just saying ‘do you know what? If I wake up tomorrow and decide I don’t wanna see you again, then you’d be able to understand right? It wouldn’t be impossible to figure out why eh’ which I do with a grin on my face of course, all in good humour. Laugh laugh laugh. Make him feel like we’re all good. No animosity here. Only the whole thing starts to have this dark undertone when he says ‘you think i’m bad guy – i’m not’ and ‘you think i’m stupid, that I don’t know what you’re doing’.

I end up making it back safely, dropped 50 meters from my guesthouse so he didn’t know where I live. Standard. I hope I never see him again. I dont say this often but he’s a little prick. Typically the next day he scoots past on his tuk tuk as i’m walking to the money exchange and is all like ‘hey friend! what you doing!’ and I’m thinking, FUCKSSAKE and I don’t stop walking whilst turning and miming the act of eating. With of course a fucking smile.

Once I arrive in Unwatuna later that day I find myself having dinner and drinks with the owner of my hotel. He’s Sri Lankan but lived in Australia and is pretty westernised and easy to get on with. Its nice to talk to someone NORMAL. Turns out its his birthday and his girlfriend is doing a visa run so he’s all alone and grateful for the company – as am I. I tell him my experiences so far and he says I need to be less friendly and avoid the party boys at all costs.

So I’ve been practising the art of being less friendly and avoiding the party boys at all costs.

He repays my thanks by telling me the next evening that he’s worried he’s developed a bit of a crush on me. Which is uber annoying as I like him. I tell him that obviously nothing is gonna happen and that I’m gonna get an early night, slinking away into the shadows. Cursing the damn lack of solo travellers here. Trouble is, we still get on well and I see him around a lot and he’s a nice guy – quite charismatic, good looking, friendly. If he wasn’t in a relationship, I might even be marginally tempted. Marginally. Despite the cliche it wouldn’t quite be a cliche as there’s a genuine connection there. But now I am put off that he would say that to me, since he was still trying his luck putting it out there wasn’t he. If it were my man saying that to another girl whilst I was away, I would be devastated. To me that’s cheating. Ok so have the thought, but don’t cast your net with it. Still, I quite like hanging out with him (and it’s slim pickings here, plus its a small place so avoidance won’t work)…but now I feel a bit like he’s gonna keep trying it on which is a drag. Although nothing I can’t handle. I’m pretty good at avoiding getting into awkward situations, despite what my Hukka experience might suggest!

This friendly thing though. It’s bugging me. I’m a smiley person and if someone comes up to me in the street and starts talking to me i’ll talk back. I’ll have a laugh with you. Engaging with people is part of life – and in particular when you’re abroad its all part of the experience, meeting people and learning about their culture.

Anyway.

My one woman mission to prove to the world that white girls don’t all sleep around continues……

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Posted in: Journal