Beautiful,early morning daylight on the paddy field at the hotel. We then biked down to the south coast. After going through a very lush arête the landscape changed to be dry and dusty with trees bent over by the wind and huge cacti beside the road. We stopped for tea at a roadside stall, the owner has to re-roof the palm leaves very two years. I asked him what he would like most and his wish was for the elephants to stop trampling on his crops. The area is a reserve for elephants and the elephants and humans do not coexist happily. We also passed through another village which was the district centre for curd making and there were stacks of earthen ware bowls with curd outside each house. It is striking how the villages specialise in different products.
Our day ended at a beach hotel with swimming in the sea and seeing the fishermen pull their boats up the beach. Eleven men per boat and singing as they heaved the boats up.
Sri Lanka takes ribbon development to new heights. The houses are alongside every road and obscure the villages. This suggest that people feel quite safe in their houses and do not need the protection of a village. There is a vast amount of trade occurring along the roads, with stalls selling local produce every 100 yards, the goods range from tamarind to cotton wool and are region specific. The houses on the south coast are a step up in size and design and the nearest town, Mataram, even has a multi-storey bank. It feels very different to the small houses we have seen out in the rural areas.
The president is from this area and his image is everywhere, in one cafe he gazed down from the wall together with pictures of his son and brother, just to emphasise the family abilities.
The press is also very regulated and criticism of the government is not permitted. I have seen very few newspapers anyway , only in the big cities and on the south coast.