Just the Two of Us (we can make it if we try): 17 March 2024

Kandy, Sri Lanka

Top o' the morning! Today is not only the official Rickshaw Run launch day, but also St. Patrick's Day and we are hoping for a little luck of the Irish to see us through our first day on the road.

Kyle and Michael woke up at 4:30am on launch day. They had to pack, make sure that all of their supplies and gear were in order, and fulfil a promise made to our donors.

It's tradition for Rickshaw Run teams to wear crazy matching outfits for the launch day and finish line. We said that if we could raise a combined $1000 (as of today, we've already raised over $1300!) for our two charities, then we would dye our hair purple. Before leaving the US, Kim picked up some violet hair wax for the boys that ended up being way more vibrant and shocking than anticipated. Michael and Kyle look absolutely ridiculous, but a promise is a promise!

We arrived at the starting point just before 8:00am to see all of the tuk-tuks lined up with team flags affixed.

There was an air of excitement all about the place as teams scurried about loading up their tuk-tuks and taking pictures with one another, but we felt a little sad that Kim was not with us. She had already moved on to Nuwara Eliya, and we all hope to meet up there in a few days to continue the second half of the adventure together.

Everyone was very excited, but understandably a little anxious as well. We were all well and truly heading into the unknown in a country that we weren't familiar with driving vehicles that we didn't really know how to drive.

Before the official launch, we gathered in the resort's garden where a quartet of Buddhist monks gave all of the teams a blessing in Pali (the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism).

 Then, the monks tied a white string around each person's right wrist for good luck.

Finally, it was time for the official launch! An enthusiastic brass band marched us out to the starting line, where we all waved goodbye to the other teams, revved our engines, and zipped out into the streets of Negombo. We were on our own and had the freedom to go wherever we wanted! All we knew, was that we would have to get to the Sumudu Seafood Restaurant on the south coast by Saturday.

Negombo rapidly disappeared behind us, giving way to small villages, green fields, and flat, smooth, empty roads (they wouldn't stay that way for long, though).

After about 45 minutes, it was time for the first break. We wanted to be very gentle with our tuk-tuk to avoid overheating or any mechanical problems, and Kyle and Michael both agreed to stick to the 45-minute rule as much as possible (since proven to have been a good idea).

Kyle navigated us from the back seat while Michael drove the first leg. Kyle found the nearest restaurant on Google Maps (the Chill Restaurant). It had no reviews, but it was time to rest the engine, and it was the only place nearby to stop. We pulled off onto a bumpy, dusty road and arrived at what looked to be an old abandoned house.

Cautiously, we parked the tuk-tuk and poked our heads inside the dark building. We walked into what looked to be an empty living room with tables and chairs stacked against the walls. We heard music from deeper within the house, and we made our way through the empty hallway to find a restaurant and a fully stocked bar with three staff excited to take our order.

We ordered the Chicken kottu, a popular Sri Lankan dish made from shredded roti stir-fried with curry, cheese, and vegetables and topped with a fried egg. It was one of the best meals that we have had so far, and found in such an unexpected and unlikely place.

Everyone was fascinated by our purple hair, and the staff insisted on taking a photo with us.

We were making such good time that we had a brief two-person team meeting over lunch to amend our route. 

Originally, we had planned to start our adventure with a short day of driving just to get the hang of things and then drive on to Kandy on the second day. However, after looking at the map, we decided that if we could push ourselves today, then we could arrive in Kandy early, giving ourselves more time to explore Sri Lanka's ancient capital.

Back on the road, Kyle took the wheel. We were really in the countryside now, and we were constantly shouting to each other over the loud puttering of the tuk-tuk's engine about how beautiful everything was.

Driving the tuk-tuk is so much fun. It's such an adrenaline rush, and the thing can really move once it gets going! With the wind in our hair and the sun shining down on us, it was really looking to be a fantastic first day on the road.

A few hours in, we heard a honk as another tuk-tuk pulled up alongside us and waved. It was one of the other teams on the Run! We hadn't seen any of the other participants in the Rickshaw Run since leaving Negombo earlier in the day, and we pulled over to the side of the road to take a break, cool the engine, and have a chat with our new friends.

Each of the teams in the Rickshaw Run has an official team flag as well as a Rickshaw Run flag flying from their tuk-tuk, making it very easy to spot one another from the road.

This was another family team made of a mom and dad who were traveling in one tuk-tuk with their daughter and son-in-law in another. They had decorated their tuk-tuks with flower garlands and inflatable animals, making us wish that we had thought to do something similar.

They were naming the animals on their tuk-tuk after people that they had met on the road, and they decided to name two inflatable parrots Michael and Kyle after meeting us during our stop.

At another stop, we pulled up at a small roadside stall looking for something cold to drink. Due to a miscommunication, Kyle ended up with a bottle of hot ginger beer that had been sitting on the counter in the sun possibly for months. We tossed it in the back of the tuk-tuk and kept sputtering onward.

Another time, we tried to navigate to a nearby Buddhist temple to give the tuk-tuk a rest. The map led us down the bumpiest dirt road imaginable through fields of palm trees. 

The tuk-tuk, with its three-wheel design, is inherently unstable, and every bump we went over as we desperately tried to get off of the labyrinthine dirt roads and back onto the main road felt like we were going to flip over - something that very well could happen over the course of the week.

Hours later, the roads got far more narrow and extremely steep as we twisted up switchbacks on the way to Kandy. The tuk-tuk doesn't do well on hills, and the engine was screaming as we tried to crawl up the hills in first gear.

Michael drove the final few hours to Kandy, and we arrived right at rush hour. The final hour was the most stressful so far. It's really hard to keep the tuk-tuk moving in stop and go traffic, but by some miracle, Michael was able to keep it running on the busy streets.

The going was really rough. Even getting to the hotel, which was up one of the steepest, windiest, and most narrow roads we've ever seen, was an ordeal. Google maps was incorrect, and the road that we were supposed to take simply didn't exist. Eventually, when we hit a dead end on a tiny neighborhood road, a local guy came out to help us turn around and point us in the right direction.

Finally, just before sunset, we arrived at our hotel, the Kandy Tree Tops, which overlooked the city of Kandy in the valley below. The hotel staff were amused with the rickety mode of transportation in which we had arrived! 

It had been a long, tiring day, but so much fun. Driving the tuk-tuk is a blast! It's hilariously underpowered, but our little rickshaw was shockingly reliable, despite how hard it had to struggle going up the hills into the mountains of Kandy.

We took showers to wash off the dust of the road (as well as the ridiculous purple hair dye) and started searching for somewhere to have dinner. Lunch felt like a long, long time ago.

After freshening up, we headed down into town to the Kandyan Muslim Hotel.

Here in Sri Lanka, "hotel" typically refers to a small family-run restaurant, not a place to sleep. What we would refer to hotels are typically called "resorts" or "guesthouses" here.

The Muslim Hotel is a halal restaurant located in the center of Kandy. It had great reviews, and we were so excited to stop there after a long day of traveling.

Dinner was fantastic! 

Neither Kyle nor Michael knew what to order, so they asked the waiter, a friendly older man, for a recommendation. Without even taking a moment to hesitate, he recommended the "Kabul". We had no idea what it was, but who are we to turn down such an adamant recommendation?

Kabul turned out to be a delicious chicken curry-stuffed roti. When he set the plate down in front of us, the waiter told us "Don't touch it!" and hurried off. He returned a moment later with a knife and fork and began cutting the Kabul into square pieces. When he was done, he said "one, two, three, eat!", and we did.

It was a fantastic dinner, and another one of our favorite meals in Sri Lanka so far!

We were so tired from the long day of travel, but we walked across the street to the nearby supermarket to buy drinking water and other supplies for the next few days.

Our first day on the road complete, we returned to the hotel for an early night. We will spend tomorrow exploring Kandy.

Check out the podcast!

If you're enjoying these posts, be sure to subscribe to the Attempt Adventure Podcast (attemptadventure.com)! The upcoming Season 4 will be a full-season adventure special documenting our adventures and mishaps across Sri Lanka!

or wherever you get your podcasts!

We Are Here: