Days 1,277-1,278: The Ministry of Crab

Sat 30.06.12 – Sun 01.07.12:

You know that the dates and the time I’ve spent in Sri Lanka tally pretty much exactly with that of Cape Verde three years ago? I remember giving serious consideration to packing all this in there and then, but my stubbornness and my inability to leave a puzzle half-solved led me to plod on regardless, and I’ve been plodding on ever since.


This morning, rose and shone, looking forward to see the Temple of the Tooth, the sacred place in Kandy where one of Buddhism’s most sacred relic can be found: a tooth of the Buddha himself.

Now: there is some debate about this matter, not least because the Portuguese, being the miserable culturally insensitive sods that they were (and you thought the British were bad) took the tooth in the 1500s and burnt it on a big pyre of religious intolerance (and they wonder why the Filipinos killed Magellan…). Now the wily monks will tell you they hid the real tooth and gave Christian Ronaldo’s great-great-great-great grandfather a fake one to destroy. But there are a few problems with this whole tooth (and nothing but the tooth) business. First up, it very well might not have been one of Buddha’s teeth to begin with. Secondly, suppose the Portuguese did destroy the one they thought was the real tooth? Thirdly, people reckon the tooth in the temple of the tooth is just a replica anyway (this would make sense since the Tamil Tigers, in a streak of cultural insensitivity that would make the Taliban blush (actually it wouldn’t) exploded a truck bomb outside the temple a few years ago, so keeping the real tooth safely hidden away somewhere secret under lock and key would be the most sensible way of doing things.

IN ANY CASE, the tooth – real or fake – is hidden from view within a mini dagoba which is nestled in a slightly bigger dagoba which is nestled in a slightly bigger dagoba, much in the manner of Russian Dolls.

So, let’s be Frank (can I still be Elaine?), I was not overly fussed about not-even seeing the incisor of a long-dead Bronze Age deity, which may or may not be actually the incisor of a long-dead Bronze Age deity. In any case, “Evangeline” Lily texted and invited me to the cricket in Colombo. Sri Lanka v Pakistan, first day of the five day test. Three and a half hours away on the train. But you see the thing is that I REALLY LOVE cricket and like Sri Lanka are totally my favourite team OKAY?

This had nothing to do with it.

So I said my fond farewells to Manisha and Starbuck and before you could say “oh for heaven’s sake Graham, have you no shame?” I was on my way back to Colombo. Picked up some Arrack and Cola on the way, and by 2pm I was sitting in the sun with enjoying the old familiar sound of cork-on-willow with Lily, Olivia and Natalie. Getting gingerly inebriated, pacing myself ready for what would be our biggest night out in Sri Lanka so far.

Jesus Christ, I look like Arnie suffocating on Mars.

Met a British chap called Henry who we invited along on our rollercoaster of destruction. By 6pm we were at the exuberantly posh Galle Face Hotel doing the sunset thing. After a short downpour (everybody running for cover in their suits and dresses – it was all very cinematic), we headed over to the Dutch Hospital for some Ministry of Crab. Bit out of my budget, and I honestly don’t need any more food, I’m turning into Hurley over here. So I just did my best to entertain the troops ready for some more drinkies in the courtyard before we headed out to the ‘High Voltage’ gig for more splendiferous hilarity.


Lily was an early casualty, struck down by Montezuma or something. But we powered on regardless, going to the Skky Bar and then back to Henry’s and then off to Kama, the nightclub I wore the silly pants in last week. Met Anita, a Croatian journo here reporting for the Japan Times (oo! I’ve been in that paper), who had also attended the gig. I found myself invited to Galle in the morning. I think. By this point my blood-alcohol level would have been high enough to knock out a King Elephant. (For it to be a King Elephant – the one you see most often in temples – seven things must touch the floor: it’s four legs, it’s truck, it’s tail and it’s penis.)

I reasonably remember going back to Henry’s, losing the girls on the way (turns out they went to a house party next door and Natalie got into a fight with the crazy blonde). There were definitely some shenanigans involving a tuk-tuk being overloaded (by us) and getting stopped by the police. Me and Olivia did the honourable thing and legged it. Wily Northerners, see? (Livi is Scottish.)

“It all started innocently enough…”

From Sri Lanka: Knocked For Six, posted by Graham Hughes on 7/07/2012 (50 items)

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By the time I knew what the hell was going on, I was 107.5km south of Colombo in Galle with Anita taking pictures of the splendid fort and wondering where my hangover had gone. Now THAT’S one awesome night out.

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.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Natalie

    Haha what an amazing night. Although I believe you got the ending a little muddled – it was Olivia and I who made a dash for it…you were asleep on Henry’s sofa or something!

    1. Graham

      Must have dreamt it then…

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