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Published: June 26th 2017
Geo: 6.02661, 80.2176
Catch up: We left the "Evil Coconut Hotel" the day before yesterday and enjoyed a short scenic drive along the coast via the Turtle Hatchery to Galle only some 45 km away.
Galle is an established port city strategically located at the extreme South East of Sri Lanka. Originally founded by the Portuguese in the 1600's it was an important trading port en route to the East Indies. Impressive fortifications and ramparts were constructed.....further developed by the Dutch and finally occupied in ernest by the The British from 1815 after the fall of Kandy. Behind the fortified sea wall lies an intact historic Colonial style town of some 90 acres, complete with Dutch Cathedral, colonial mansions, a court house, historic post office and many many other impressive buildings. It came into it's own in 2004 when the massive fortifications successfully protected those inside from the disaster.
We are lucky enough to be staying in the Galle Fort Hotel for 3 nights. Situated in the heart of the colonial ramparts it is a converted Dutch Mansion with a central courtyard and pool overlooked by Verandahs. We are staying in a "loft room". A bit of a strange set up with a lounge
(Plus WC and Shower) on the ground floor and four poster bed upstairs. All rather good, but the Hotel is resting on it's laurels and to be frank, service is very slow and the staff seem somewhat disinterested.
STOCK CHECK: Bombay Sapphire - rattling around in the bin. Jonnie Walker Red Label levels are precarious. As a consequence, our immediate priority was to head off in search of a "Wine Shop" and replenish supplies. Easier said then done as the immediate vicinity is geared up for tourists and is "rammed" with knick knacks, Moon Stone jewellery shops and overpriced spice and tea emporiums. However, the real city in only a short tuk ride away where we hit the local supermarket and bottle shop. Taking our life into our hands we opt for the local gin....only £3 a bottle and comes with a free white stick...
EQUIPMENT ROLL CALL. All members of our team are now in full use. Little Arthur the barman is in full flight........... Even the travel kettle made an appearance this morning. Special mention must go the Mr LIME who is still delivering the goods some 10 days after purchase. He has travelled all the way from the
Coop in Ashtead just to help out but is looking somewhat "tired" and "cut up". Will he make it back to Blighty????
WARDROBE: It is time for me to unleash "The Travolta Trooos". Whiter than white....in fact so white you need special welding goggles to look at them. They have survived a prawn curry but have now been safely packed away to shock the Arabs in a couple of days time.
The last couple of days have been spent wandering the streets and markets of Galle, a friendly and remarkably resilient city which has come through the Tsunami and is now looking forwards with confidence to the future. It is a mix of Colonial and typical South East Asian..... hustle and bustle ......markets selling exotic fruit and vegetables of all shapes and sizes......shops selling everything from 70p designer sunglasses (Cathy lashed out on two pairs) to multicoloured plastic buckets.
CHAT UP! Last night we headed out for a really good Thai meal in one of the converted Fort buildings. We are the only customers apart from a semi-well preserved blond woman in her late 60's dressed in a kaftan and her husband who has clearly made no effort .....he is slightly unkempt and
is wearing those blue 1970's footy shorts (you know the ones......a little too shiny and snug for comfort.) She wafts over clutching a large ballon of red wine and in a gin soaked Roedean/Malboro Light voice purrs........... "Hello darling haven't I seen you somewhere before...................EER POSSIBLY I squeak back nervously........ "We have lived her for years and have a large house in the hills (nearby) and it is very very lonely"............BILL PLEASE......
Lala our driver has departed for 36 hours to see his family back in Columbo. Strangely he has decided to take the bus home and leave his car in Galle. He is still wearing his frog green shirt and white trousers but I spot a nasty looking yellow thumb print stain on the front....?
THURSDAY: Well the BBC Weather department is wrong! Sun Sun Sun........! It was supposed
be a monsoon and it has been glorious!. We have booked a TUK TUK ride some 23 km to the small fising village of Weligama some 23km further south east. Our tuk driver is first class and show us all the vantage points high in the hills overlooking Galle. He was at the waterfront the day the Tsunami hit. Realising the imminent
crisis, he drove inland and survived along with his family. He drove back into the City a couple of hours later and saw bodies floating everywhere!
We "TUK" along the coastal road following the palm fringed golden beaches interspersed with little local villages..........."this is the life".........as we tuck into squid curry perched on the rustic wooden verandah of a local fish restaurant overlooking yet more golden sand and azure blue seas........
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