The final leg of the journey from KL to Melbourne was around 8 hours, and I was 2 rows of seats away from 3 sets of screaming infants who kept it up for most of the journey. I felt like joining in. Luckily, there were some action movies available for viewing and so I managed to block out some of the screams and sobs with the sound of explosions, punchups and gunshots. The noise-cancelling headphones are good against the sound of the plane engines but unfortunately don't cancel out the noise of children.
I arrived back home in a maxi-taxi after a monumental wait at the oversized baggage area at Tullamarine airport, shortly before midnight, and can happily confirm that the tyres are still intact.
So, overall I was in Sri Lanka for around 23 days, and travelled 868km over 14 days of cycling - a daily average of 62km. I lost 5kg in weight, partly due to all the exercise and partly I think due to the change in diet. It was an interesting trip and I got to see a fair bit of Sri Lanka. It was hard to not compare it with India - Sri Lanka seemed a lot more ordered than India, and I saw much less poverty, slum areas and beggars. The roads were much better on average, the traffic more ordered, and vehicles actually slowed and even stopped at pedestrian crossings. English was more common. I found the food less interesting and varied compared with what is available in India. The religious breakdown differs: in Sri Lanka, around 70% of the population is Buddhist, 13% Hindu, 10% Muslim and 7% Christian (mostly Roman Catholic), whereas in India, around 80% of the population is Hindu, 14% Muslim, 2.3% Christian, 1.7% Sikh, 0.7% Buddhist and 0.4% Jain.
As I mentioned in an earlier entry, it always amused me to see police travelling two up on their motorcycle, with one sitting imperiously at the rear, as if on a throne, and I was struck by how stern an image they endeavoured to project. I was struck by the scarecrows you could see on most building and construction sites and presumed it was about warding off 'the evil eye' or similar, although I did read one view that their intention is to distract people's attention and envy away from the expensive new building.
It always takes a few days or longer from a trip like this to reorient back to life here. The cycling presents a tremendous focus, and thinking becomes very 'here and now', with little time spent reflecting on work, life back home and other matters. Routines become very different - I spent no time watching TV (although did watch some downloaded episodes of 'Gotham' on my tablet) and spent a lot of time reading during down time e.g. in my room or in cafes and restaurants if eating alone. I read about 12 books, mostly crime novels, while in Sri Lanka!