The Adventures of the Sunshine Kid : A Well Weathered Man

Nuwara Eliya Travel Blog

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'Sun is shinin' in the sky,
There ain't a cloud in sight
It's stopped rainin' ev'rybody's in a play
And don't you know
It's a beautiful new day hey,hey!'

- Mr Blue Sky, ELO

Okay, there's no avoiding it.  I'm on an absolute hiding to nothing with this one.  There is little I can say or do that will stop this entry from sounding like a complaint.  A complaint about the weather.  That favourite English pastime... but no, I'm talking about good weather!  Sunshine and blue skies.  Picture perfect postcard conditions.  'It's sunny and hot...Wish You Were Here'  You see what I mean?  It's not meant to come across in the way I know it will... oh dear, but let's go for it anyway. just doesn't help me with my spelling :D
  Psychological Postcard Number 2 is all about the weather and this well weathered and worn little traveller.  May the heavy waters of derision (please) fall upon my head. 

I think it was Crowded House that once sang 'Everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you' and whilst this may be true enough in a philosophical sense (we carry our moods with us) it cannot possibly be true in the literal sense.  Surely?  I mean, no.  Put simply, from what I hear from poor old beleaguered Blighty, if I had taken the weather with me from Britain on this journey, I would have been dogged by downpours, dreariness, storms, wind, ice and snow every step of the way.  Besides can you imagine the difficulties of trying to stuff all those heavy looking thunderclouds into one's backpack?!  Whilst I don't keep an eye on the weather, least of all when my back's turned from Home (geographically speaking), by all accounts, and to quote my trusted and wonderful TB weathergirl pal Beverley's phrase, it's been 'a real crapshoot' back in the UK since Stevie was whisked away on the travel breeze.

Blue lotus flowers and jasmine ready for offering to the bodi tree.
  The worst snows in 50 years apparently.  Snowing more times in my home village of Angmering in the last 12 months than it ever did in my 15 years of permanent residency there and beyond.  I honestly wish I coulda been there to see this!

Nope, with the very rarest of exceptions which I may list a little later ( 'Hey, I'm talking about the weather!  It's an inherently dull subject so deal with it or go for a walk in the rain!' ) I have enjoyed and endured the full heat of the sun from day Numero Uno until the present one of this journey.  My friend and former housemate Katzutaka once explained to me a Japanese expression relating to personal disposition and the weather.  In Japan - apparently - you can either be a ‘Sunshine Man’ or a ‘Rain Man‘.

Anuradhapura : this is the bodi tree grown from an original cutting of the tree that the Buddha gained enlightenment under in Bodh Gaya, India
  Women too of course.  (Can they be Tempests too I wonder? ;D)  And it pertains to your personality and mood.  If you carry yourself through life with a positive attitude and with smiles and warmth towards others you are a 'Sunshine Man' and good weather will bless you in consequence.  As a reward if you like.  If you're an unhappy, moody b*st*rd then presumably the opposite will be true.  You always take the weather with you.  Kaz was kind enough to dub me a bona fide, honorary Sunshine Man.  This despite the fact we were living in wet and miserable Birmingham in the grey, grey rainy day West Midlands UK.  But I remain touched to this day by his perception of me as so.  The mind-frying consistency of good weather that lit my way in the early European stages of my journey, and henceforth ever since, led me to cheekily dub myself The Sunshine Kid, though the nickname has been slightly dampened since.
Anuradhapura : Pilgrims and the Bodi Tree at the Sri Maha Bodi Temple
  ( And 'No Kaz, I still have not tried to chat up a Japanese lady, claiming to be a Sunshine Man.'
I can't speak with much authority on the kinds of temperatures I have been enjoying (or labouring under depending upon my mood) as in defiance of the national habit to make small talk about the weather - present, past and future - I make a point of ignoring all such information both when at home and whilst travelling.  Consequently I am not very good at gauging such information either.  Varying widely of course I would say my progress around the globe has been slow-baked; my soul slowly poached at an average temperature of about 27-30 degrees centigrade.  Even when in Europe!  And often way, way higher.  Dehydration (despite lots of water) nearly occurring in southern Turkey at 45 degrees odd.
'Me & me mammy!'
  Only heading to high altitude has occasionally saved my body and soul from complete melt down.  Trekking in Nepal or Western China; Darjeeling, Sikkim, Simla and Manali in India and the hill country of Sri Lanka.  Stints at above 1,700 metres.  But even then, only by evening and night.  The sun dangerously roasting by day at such heights in all of the mentioned destinations.  Climbing ever closer to the sun.

But I'm sorry - yeah here comes the bit where I start to get in trouble - no, but I am sorry, you just can't do this to an Englishman for too long without consequence.  “It’s just not fair!”  We're just not a race born to run constantly on solar energy.  (And like to have things both ways - life hot and cold to order, as suits our variable moods).

Anuradhapura : The slant of the Runanvelisaya Dagoba (that houses one of the Buddha's collar bones - apparently)
  It fries our batteries.  Boils our brains.  Our sense of sanity and reason (well, mine anyway) starts to evaporate from the tops of our heads.  Perhaps there's one excuse for the excesses of colonialism?  An unfortunate consequence in itself, one might say, of the British need to search far and wide for better weather... and other rewards.  This process continues (and is often little less repugnant) via Club 18-30, the mass international exportation of beach ‘lobsters’ and on through to retirement-property tourism. 

Nope, as I noted to friends a little while ago the British soul needs a little of the ole grey wet misery from time to time.  To cool the all too tiny fires that flicker within us.  Not a nation for letting our passions rage out of control you know.

Anuradhapura : Another ancient and much revered dagoba/ stupa. There are MANY here so make sure you like white ceramic dome-shaped thingamies ;)
  The frequently cloud sent falls keeping them in check.  Rain water runs in our veins you see.  What moments of respite have there been to refill this rainy reservoir within me?  I recall a damp afternoon in Hue then Hanoi, (had it dribbled any in Phangnan Kit, I can't recall?) and another in Xi'an; a heavy downpour one evening in Bucharest; a few spits in Dharamsala, India and the finest drizzle for an hour or two in Safranbalou just a day after just down the road Istanbul had experienced its heaviest rainfall for a century ushering in floods and fatalities.  In fact the only time I can recall the rain falling consistently enough that I was forced to take refuge indoors was the first time it occurred, on a dreary afternoon in Davos, in Switzerland.
Stone carving
  A year and a half ago.

And ya know it's that kinda experience, just once in a while, that I've missed on this journey.  The act of being forced to take refuge.  To stop and take stock.  To curl up in a ball, metaphorically if not literally, and take shelter from an outside world turned mean and uninviting for a time.  Beaten back by the weather with no choice, none whatsoever other than to pour another coffee, tuck my legs up on the guesthouse sofa and read another hundred pages or so.  And I wouldn't mind that.  Really I wouldn't!  Just every once in a while.  Once in a year!  A little rain.  A little refuge.  A little drink of the ole grey wet misery. 

This means of course that my journey has been incredibly blessed and I am aware and appreciative of this fact (and yes you can all hate me for daring to make what may sound like a moan about such good fortune).

Anuradhapura : Samadi Buddha statue and pilgrims
  I have been able to see almost every inch of the world I have thus far trodden at its very, very finest most photogenic best.  But sunlight and fine weather of course are a constant carrot being dangled on a stick for an English tourist.  Another part of our national psyche and its complicated, sometimes buffoonish relationship to meteorology.  Drawn out to the sun like moths to a flame.  As no matter my mood, or the heat, the sun is compulsion to move and to 'do stuff' and 'go see stuff' and just generally keep trotting - whatever the consequences.  Even in the heat of the midday sun.  When of course only mad dogs and Englishmen venture abroad.  And it's been quite exhausting all told.  A well weathered man.
Anuradhapura : Open brick work dagoba, like manay others here, rescued from having been completely reclaimed by nature
  A little weathered and worn as a consequence.  Saturated by the sun.  Ever so slightly sick of a life spent in a state of literally non-stop sweat and sun cream.  Slimy, oily, smelly skin and clothes for 20 months solid now.  My skin is tattooed lower epidermis deep with Factor 20 for all time I fear.  My skin having reached a state of terminal tan some long while ago now. 

In the meantime I’ll keep looking to the skies for a little respite.  A prayer for those so, so beautiful, comforting clouds of European skies that I often miss so much with their capacity to both cool one’s mind and allow the imagination to wander.  ( ‘Is that a bunny rabbit playing leap frog with a tiger up there... or just another nimbus cluster?’) A glance every now and then to the blue cloudless heavens in questing for a response to the enquiry 'What?  Why me?  Why fry so constantly?'  For I feel after all these long hot months like some poor ant being relentlessly pursued by wanton children with an oversized magnifying glass to focus the concentrated sun's rays upon my back.

Stevie love CLOUDS!!! :)
  Trying to fry my butt.  Just like Russell and I used to do in our youth.  Perhaps there's something in karma after all?

You’ll understand of course by now that the sole purpose of this little weather report - such an audacious whinge about wonderful weather- can only ever have been crafted as little more than a challenge to weather Gods who's job it is to track the remainder of my journey.  An invocation to the rain.  I’d try a naked rain dance but the Sri Lankan authorities might not take too kindly to such a vision - and deportation for public indecency’s not my game.  So this blog will have to suffice.  And in fact, I've held the fact back whilst scrawling this entry, but it's true that since having had this little bit of scribble-drivel on the cards for sometime I have had the refreshing pleasure of life beneath inter-monsoonal Sri Lankan skies.

Sun down at Trincomalee
  And whilst for the most part it's been more hot-hot-hot most days of the way, I have had the rare comfort of some good old fashioned bucketing showers too.  Especially come late afternoon in the higher elevations of the central hill country here. 

One afternoon only 20 minutes from my guesthouse in Ella, strolling along the sleeper tracks of the beautiful Badulla-Kandy railway line, returning from a trek to the top of Ella Rock, the Heavens let loose!  I was prepared with waterproofs and fortuitously a little tea/ snack kiosk shop appeared to the left of the tracks and provided swift refuge.  So this is not a tale of a drowned ginger rat.  Just a happy one.

The Sunshine Kid :)
  For whilst the rain sheeted down, obscuring the view of the Rock, pouring in fat rivulets off the corrugated metal roof of the cafe as two workers building a little extension downed tools in frustration, a lady dashed in, her umbrella washed to nothingness and a dog lay indifferent upon the concrete floor, I just sat their grinning like a pig in muck.  A sunshine pig; a Sunshine Kid in rain.

Stevie_Wes says:
Ha Ha Ha, I hear what your saying Bart! For sure I have counted my lucky stars both during my journey and since returning to England (well, obviously one never takes the sun for granted in northern Europe right? :) Actually Indonesia came after Sri Lanka for me and being more or less my final destination it took it upon itself to give me quite regular cloud-dooshings over the 3 months I was there. This is most interesting when in the middle of the Sumatran jungle or trying toclimb up and down a volcano! Rain is certainly a pain, I am so glad to have had it so little as a travel companion, and you have my sympathies pal! :)
Posted on: Dec 08, 2010
Biedjee says:
Mate, I read this blog entry just before I left and can't help but thinking about it now. If you like rain that much, you should have done my trip. I just realised that I have had rain in each and every one of the 22 countries I travelled through this trip. And while it didn't affect me as much for the first 7 months or so, I am getting weary of it now. Looking at the weather forecast it looks like I won't see much of the sun during the last few weeks of my trip either :-(
So... consider yourself blessed, Mr Sunshine Kid!
Posted on: Nov 30, 2010
wangwei says:

Posted on: Jul 09, 2010
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