13-Apr-2007 -- We'd planned just to visit 8N 80E and 7N 81E during our trip to Sri Lanka, but the last day of our holiday found us sat in Columbo with not much to do until our flight that evening. So, we decided to take advantage of the relatively quiet New Year (that's Sinhalese/Tamil New Year) traffic, and set off towards Kadawata and 7N 80E.
Despite the empty roads, getting out of Columbo was a trial, and we took many wrong turns before finding the correct B-road towards the point. Nevertheless, we covered the necessary 19 km or so from the magnificent Galle Face Hotel fairly quickly, and somehow managed to find the right turn to take us on a narrow strip of asphalt to a paddy field where we were able to park at just 500 m from the point, a position currently marked by a small banner in Sinhalese. Like the previous visitors, we walked along the strip of muddy track to the left of the paddy fields, but opted not to walk up the wooden log 'ramp' which is located at around 75 m from the target. Instead we continued through the fields and walked around the back of the properties upon which the point lies.
At first we walked into a property where a number of family members were out washing clothes at their concrete well, tinkering with a tuk-tuk (auto-rickshaw) and a variety of other tasks. The GPS indicated we were very close to the point (with a reading of 8 m). We felt a bit conspicuous (especially as we couldn't communicate our purpose in being there), but they seemed good-natured and directed us to the adjacent property (presumably recalling the destination of other groups of strange foreigners...) which lay on the other side of a barbed wire fence. A lengthy walk up to a main track, along, and then back down took us into a deserted property - thanks to the Yip-Bannicq Group, whose report appeared on the DCP site after we'd made our visit, we now know this belongs to a certain Mr Banwardana, who was presumably away celebrating New Year with family members elsewhere.
Walking around, we couldn't quite 'zero in': the point seems to lie very close to the barbed wire fence, and we are still not certain in whose property it really belongs: that of Mr Banwardana (to the North of the fence) or the neighbouring family with the well (to the South). Reluctant to keep walking around the fence, we settled on a position 3 m from all zeros and took the photos, much to the amusement of the neighbours. To the West, the neighbours' concrete well can be seen, and to the East there is a wooded area of the property. However, the paddy field is not actually visible from the point as the way is blocked by trees.
We took the short way back - hopping over a muddy ditch to get back to the paddy fields, where we saw children playing cricket. One unfortunate water buffalo appeared to be being employed as a wicket, although he was taking it in good grace. Further down the field we disturbed a large snake in a drainage ditch, which slithered up the bank into the safety of some plant cover. It's perhaps worth future confluencers noting that Sri Lanka has the dubious honour of being the country with the highest number of snake bite deaths per year...
By the time we got back to the car after all our diversions we were hot and sticky, and more than a little sad that this visit marked the end of our wonderful time in Sri Lanka.
: Phil Boyle and Claire Halperin work at the British Embassies in Ṣan`ā' and Cairo, respectively. This visit to Sri Lanka is the first confluence foray outside of Yemen for both of them.