Caught in military checkpoint

Tuesday, 9 March 2010
Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

Well arrived in Vavuniya, I soon went to the bus station and searched for a bus bound for Jaffna. There was one too, extremely crowded and ready to go. I didn’t get a seat, had to stand upright. The ticket cost only 138 Rs (a bit more than a dollar).

My dream about visiting Jaffna was unfortunately shattered to pieces just a few km north of Vavuniya. There was a huge military checkpoint, where every passenger had to go through body and baggage search. I was taken to the side, and after checking my passport, I was asked if I had a permit from the ministry of defence. Of course I didn’t. Well, then they couldn’t let me pass, I was told. They explained that the land crossing to Jaffna was not totally cleared of mines yet, and that they couldn’t take resposibility for a foreigner’s safety. I could go by plane, that was no problem, they told me.

Instead of Jaffna, they suggested me to go to Trincomalee, not so far from Vavuniya. And since I didn’t have any better idea myself, I catched a bus back to Vavuniya, and then another bus to Trincomalee, four hours further east. The road was very bumpy and partly unpaved.

I decided to stay a few km north of Trincomalee, near the beach at Uppuveli, so I catched a three-wheeler to a place listed in the Lonely Planet guide: Lily Motel, a run-down place. This is where I am staying now. Room price is 700 Rs. There is no other tourists here. The place was empty of people when I arrived (but the door was open), and the water was turned off. I had to wait some time until the staff turned up. I am the only guest.

Military checkpoint

Military checkpoint north of Vavuniya.

Bus to Trincomalee

The bus to Trincomalee.

Lily Motel

Lily Motel, Uppuveli, Trincomalee.

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