Travel journals from my 2013 trip to Sri Lanka… Full photo album here.
A month after recovering from a second bout of Dengue Fever, it was but two days before I was making a customary detour to the local hospital… Avoiding the drizzle at the Royal Botanical Gardens near Kandy, I was sat happily under a tree watching the exciting season climax of Battlestar Galactica on my phone. Just as Captain Adama was about to be defeated by a rogue Cylon, 200 school children poured over a hill directly towards the very tree which was predestined to bring my own bloody demise. Spotting the incoming gaggle of excitable kids, I did what any other sane human would do – donned my horse head mask and gave chase. Sri Lankan kids love chasing.
Despite being an expert chaser (in a Benny Hill, not Jimmy Saville way), I smacked snout-first into an eye-level branch at high speed. The children were suddenly very still and quiet as I removed the mask to reveal a theatrical volume of blood flowing down my face (an amount which even Tarrantino might deem “a bit much, to be honest”). The latex snout had offered no shock absorption at all – indeed, it made for a rubbish crash helmet…
I didn’t feel much pain for a few moments, so tried to do more chasing – but the teacher ushered the traumatised students away from the strange white man and handed me an endless supply of tissues… I wasn’t sure how the kids might have relayed this tale to their parents, but they’d surely all been immediately conditioned – Pavlov style – to fear foreigners and/or horses forever more.
In an unexpected display of efficiency, I was ushered quickly into a tuk-tuk by a horrified gardener and fast-tracked for treatment at a government hospital nearby. The tall, bloodied-up ginger dude, clutching a creepy plastic horse head, was predictably the centre of attention at Peradeniya A&E, and when a curious nurse asked what’d happened, the doctor joked that I’d ‘complimented a Sri Lankan woman’. I was in-and-out in less than an hour and at zero cost, though I suspect the speediness was more to do with the dramatic blood situation than being a foreigner.
The escapade had also won me several stitches, a course of antibiotics, two black eyes and a ridiculous anecdote I’d probably be telling for as long as I have a scar in the centre of my otherwise perfectly-formed face.