Monday, November 9, 2009

Travels and Travails of Lunugamwehera

It was with great anticipation we left Colombo on our trip to the Weheragala Bungalow Lunugamwehera. We had anticipated a five hour drive. But somehow it took us over seven hours to get to the bungalow and another hour from the main gate to get our bungalow. The park is beautiful and the bungalow was in one of the most scenic locations one could imagine. It is set on the bund of a damn overlooking this huge vista of water. We were thrilled when we got out. We were tired and hungry as we were planning to have lunch when we arrived. And we had not anticipated the delay.

So it was an absolute disappointment when the bungalow keeper told us that the bungalow has no water. Oh joy!

This is one of the most expensive bungalows which belong to the wild life ministry. It even has a generator. A well has been dug but no pump has been installed so that the water can be pumped in. So there was water all around us but not one drop to drink or have a shower.

My guests were furious. This was the first time that they have experienced being the guests of the government. And the wonder of the beauty of the location was quickly deteriorating due to the lack of facilities. It seemed that the water had to be transported to the bungalow by Bowser and then pumped into the tank for the occupants to use. And no one has informed the authorities that we were coming. So there was no water and both drivers of the bowser had been sent on leave to enjoy the long weekend.

Everyone was tired and angry. Firstly it meant that we could not have the showers we were looking forward too. Next living in a bungalow without water for two nights was virtually impossible specially with kids around. And it was bloody frustrating to get a call out, Because though our dialog phones showed full signal the calls were not getting connected. Since it was past four anyway most of the people were not answering the phone.

But after much trying we managed to get through to the Assistant Director who told us that he could give us the bowser if we wouldn’t mind driving it and getting the water. Fortunately for us MDZ who was with us took up the challenge.

It was sad that the chaps at the main gate had not warned us about the lack of water because then we could have made arrangements then and their without having wasted two hours travelling up and down to the bungalow. But then this proves my point that those who work for the government our utter morons not even capable of digging their own nose. In fact I am ashamed to say that both my parents were government servants.

So we drive back one whole hour back to the entrance take over the truck and fill it up with Diesel from Thanamal villa (or titty flower pond as my friend YP likes to call it) then drive this monstrous truck all the way to the lunugamwehera water plant and fill it up and drive it all the way back to the bungalow. We managed to get to the water station five minutes before they shut down and filled the bowser with 3800 litres of water. And with great relief we arrived at our bungalow three hours later having driven about 50 miles extra. Apparently the cost of the water was only 300 bucks but we did go through a couple of thousand rupees worth of effort to get it.

By the time we got back we were delighted to see the officers at the army base which is virtually on the premises of the bungalow had sent water for the kids to have their wash.

We thought all our frustrations were over when the water dilemma was solved. But that was not the case. Firstly the water pressure was not sufficient for the showers to work in the upstairs toilets which were decorated in a garish blue with a bright green plastic door. In fact I believe the toilets had the cheapest fittings possible. The downstairs toilet door had a hole with a siri siri bag for where the handle should be.

So after all that trouble we could not enjoy a shower but instead had to pour water on ourselves the old fashioned way using a bucket and bowl. Also we realized that only one caretaker was there instead of the usual two. And it was quite obvious the poor soul could not cook. Fortunately for us our tracker turned out to be a wonderful cook and took charge of the meals which turned out to be truly awesome. When we thought there were no more obstacles which we could face it began to rain. And the rain was beating inside on to the beds as well. Once again the reed thats had been ordered but not delivered as of yet. Fortunately for us the rain susbsided to a constant drizzle and we did not get wet.

After all that adventure a good drink was the order of the day followed by a late dinner which was awwsome. Somehow once you had three shots warming your belly the frustrations we had gone through were a distant memory and the charm of the place began to grow on us. There was mild moon light so the entire place was beautifully lit and a constant breeze was brushing our skin. However in the night it became downright cold and I was wondering if I should move into a room instead of moving into the verandah.

Well the morning dawned and we were rudely awakened to extremely loud bana emanating from the army barracks. What we realized was that there were two additional negatives about this particular bungalow one was the army barracks which was virtually in the same compound. The troops tend to yell and shout and play the merry devil during the afternoon in addition to broadcasting extremely loud “bana” every morning. Also the bund is a stopping point for day visitors who can see into the bungalow. This is absolutely no fun if you are wanting the solitude some of the other wild life bungalows provide.

But overall it was an adventurous excursion. The park is beautiful even though we did not see many elephants and in the end we enjoyed ourselves even though the service was bad. And if I had the chance to visit this bungalow again with all the short comings? Sadly the answer is YES!

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