Days 1,265-1,271: The Long and Shorts of It

Mon 18.06.12 – Sun 24.06.12:

After returning to Negombo late on Sunday night, things were looking good. The ship leaving this weekend was going to take me to The Maldives, and then I’d be coming back here to Sri Lanka, so the ‘cultural triangle’ stuff could wait until my triumphant return from country number 199 (being The Maldives).

On the Wednesday I got a message from my Unawatuna chums asking if I was up for a night out in Colombo. I had fancied going to the Irish pub there for the weekly pub quiz, but when I called up asking about it, the guy who answered the phone had no idea what I was on about. So around 8pm I met with Lily, Olivia, James, Christoph and Jules at the rather posh Galle Face hotel. They had a rather posh all-you-can-eat buffet for the incredible price of just £9, but even that’s a little out of my budget so I stuck with the (shared) bottle o’ wine.

After that we all headed over to the Dutch Hospital – now a swanky courtyard of bars and restaurants (think the Albert Dock without the actual dock). After a couple mojitos (I rather dislike mojitos, but he who pays the piper and all that jazz), we headed off to Skyy Bar for more alcoholic treats.

Now a little three-sheeties-to-the-windies, we attempted to get into the nightclub next door to Skyy Bar. However there was a dress code. A dress code that for the first time in my life, didn’t affect me (I’m the guy who got told off for wearing A SUIT in Melbourne!). However, it did affect James (who was wearing shorts) and Christoph and Jules (both of whom were wearing flip-flops).

But when I’ve had a few nothing will stop me from continuing down the spiral of hilarity and destruction. So we formulated a plan. I’d give James my jeans in return for his shorts, then set off with the two Germans to their hotel to grab some shoes for them and a pair of trousers for me.

Just one problem: the German lads only had one pair of spare trousers. And they were bright yellow ski-pants.

Yes, they let me in.

Colombo Door Policy: Shorts = No. Bright Yellow Ski-Pants = Yes.

The next day I woke up on James’s floor wondering if anybody got the number of that bus that hit me. I stumbled onto the beach and hooked myself up to the internets to find out if there was any more news about the ship leaving for Maldives this weekend. There was.

The ship would be omitting Colombo. I couldn’t get on board no matter what I did.

I felt like somebody had just punched me in the stomach. I’ve GOT to get home as soon as possible. My dad is going in for major heart surgery in August. My best mate (and Odyssey Hero) Dino is getting married in August, as is fellow Odyssey Hero Hugh and my old schoolchum Danny. I’ve known these guys for over 22 years. And to top it off, Mandy, my girlfriend, partner in crime and putter-up-with more than her fair share of grief on this journey is flying to the UK on August 16. If I don’t see her then I won’t see her until 2013.


Okay, there’s a CMA-CGM ship leaving Colombo on July 4. It’s a one way ticket to The Maldives, but it would mean I could at least knock The Maldives off the list and – who knows – I might just find a ship coming back this way – or, even better, to The Seychelles.

Putting my best foot forward, I spent 3 hours writing THE BEST EMAIL EVER to the nice chaps and chapesses at CMA-CGM in France. Quite simply, if this doesn’t work I’m more stuffed than a Thanksgiving turkey.

That night I returned to Colombo feeling like a ton of crap. Happily, Sachal, feeling my discontent did his level best to cheer me up by inviting Natalie and the German girls, Elena and Marina, over for a slap-up feast at his place on the Friday night. Dinner party host par excellence, Sachal almost had me fall off my seat with amusement at his thoroughly hilarious anecdotes. At one point he took his shirt off to share with us all THE HAIRIEST BACK IN THE WORLD. Natalie’s face says it all…

Mr. Sachal Mir strips off for the ladiezzz

So as Friday merged into Saturday I found myself out in Negombo town, meeting with people from all over the world, including girls from Britain, America and Canada who were volunteering at a local orphanage. This is beginning to remind me of the Café Sophia in Praia, Cape Verde, a place where I became somewhat of a permanent fixture. My feet begin to itch. How can I justify being in a place as awesome as Sri Lanka for three weeks and not actually go anywhere?

But when sunset looks like this…

The time had come for ACTION! But, before then, the nice Chinese lady staying at Sachal’s B&B offered to make everyone dinner on the Sunday night. After the most outrageous drinking games courtesy of the Sach, we all headed over to the Rodeo bar at midnight to watch England get kicked out of Euro 2012.

By now, Jannika, the owner of Rodeo had finally recognised me off the telly and so he (wonderfully) kept the bar open until 2.30am so I could watch the extra time and penalties. Good on ya, Jannika! England: YOU SUCK!!!

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

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