March 12, 2005
It's not the top, it's how you get there that matters
Its about 400 degrees and 100% humidity and we have a house just burtsing with overseas guests, so I think I’ll take a little bit of a break from the heavy hot house by taking myself off to the hill country of Sri Lanka. I had it all perfectly pictured in my head - I would take the rollicking train to this massive mountain called Adams Peak that is a Buddhist pilgrimage site, I would climb all 7000ft to the top along with all the merry pilgrims and at the top I would be rewarded with an amazing view and have some kind of epiphany and walk back down the mountain, all in a few hours. Unfortunatley things didnt go exactly as planned…
I knew that it was a Buddhist pilgrimage site, but I didn’t know that every Buddhist in the whole damn country would be there at the same time as me. As well as all the nearly dead nannas that were busting a hernia to get up to the top, there was a MASSIVE contingent of boys. I took notice of this as I know them to be annoying shits at the best of times, but I didn’t realize the full force of their annoyance… anyway, Wanting to get to the summit by sunrise, I left at 1am – giving my self plenty of time to take a leisurely stroll to the top. However every mutha fucka had the same idea. From the first step we were bumper to bumper. It was like the big day out or something, but instead of music there was just a big ol’ bastard rock. Then the boys started. “Hello madam how are you”, “Where you from” . Normally its fine and you can just ignore them and move on down the road, but there was no where to run, no where to hide. But I do my best to ignore them and just keep on keeping on with the occasional boy following my every move, but eventually I was managing to lose them in the crowd. Then at base camp things start to look a little hairy. I round a corner to see the path snaking up around the mountain is just thick thick thick with people. But I’m sure that it evens out just around the bend… But as I keep going, it is just getting worse and worse. And the boys are getting out of control. At one stage I have a midget sri lankan dressed in a sarong that’s dragging on the ground ask me “where you going madam” - Umm, I’m sandwiched in a crowd of pilgrims walking up the side of a mountain – I’m going UP buddy, where else do you think I’m going? Then I get a finger. UP. MY. ARSE. I am the only foreigner in a teeming mass of sri lankans and I have a finger up my arse and despite wanting turn around and head but his moustached little face, I can only do my best fuck-off-and-die glare.
So we’re getting closer to the top. I’ve been walking for 7 hours and have well and truly missed the sunrise. People are getting antsy by now and are really wanting to get to the top, so they’ve started to go off-road. There are now as many people on the path as there is off the path and they look like they are moving poste haste up the hill. So I decide to join them. Next thing I know I am pulling myself up a cliff face with a scrap of electrical wire. There are old nannas and pops dangling above me and I’ve got boys pushing up behind. I am totally shagged, my hands are all cut up and my brand new fake pumas are totally trashed. I jump back over the railing for what I think is the last leg of my climb… only to round the corner to see I still have the tip of the mountain to climb. It’s 9 am now and word comes from the monks on the top of the mountain that its still another 5 hours to the top. It’s now that I make the heartbreaking decision to turn around and come back down. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no quitter and it goes against every ounce of my Capricorn being - but I had to turn around. And though my words cant convey it strongly enough, the men were really becoming an issue. I now have a self-appointed guide who is following on my heels and am weary from glaring at fuckers for 8 hours straight.
So I turn around and shit gets out of control. No one is moving up and no one can get down either. A fight breaks out and then people are pushing from both ways. I’m up against the railing and I start to have visions of those soccer matches in Europe that end in bone crushing deaths. I shed what I think may be my last tear on earth, muster up my best running legs and push like I am a baby and the crowd of pilgrims is the birth canal. So another four hours of constant running and I make it to the bottom of the mountain - punctuated only by an ungraceful face first fall down the mountain, amidst much laughing by my, now, most hated species of earth. Sri Lankan men. My legs are shaking, my Capricorn pride is deflated and I am totally dehydrated because I refused to drink a single drop of water the whole 12 hours for fear I would have to use the foul squat toilets dug into the side of the mountain. But despite it all, My Buddhist pilgrimage has seen me achieve enlightenment…
Here’s what I learnt during my 12 hours of pilgriming
- Pilgrimages aint my scene (please refer to “catholic Pilgrimage” for more details)
- Sri Lankan men are fucked
- Mountain climbing in fake pumas is asking for big trouble and big blisters
- Dehydration is a fools game
- Sri Lankan men are fucked
- The tops of mountains are over rated