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Published: August 11th 2018
A whole weekend free to hopefully eliminate jet lag. I had thought that today I’d go to the Old Dutch Hospital Centre, then to Pettah market, the Gangaramaya Temple and home through the park. Only the first of these actually happened, it was really hot and a bit harder to find my way around than I thought, not wanting to have my phone in my hand all the time and the hotel map being rubbish.
There are 2 types of people who want to engage you in conversation, all of them are men, but not seedy or threatening. Both types start with the same 3 questions, which country are you from, are you here for a holiday, where are you going. Then it becomes clear(ish) if they are Type 1, wanting to sell you something, usually involving getting into their tuktuk or Type 2, Just Interested. There is also Type 3, wanting to ask you out, but these are not locals, nor do they care about age, in my recent experience. Idiots, the last group. I’m a grandmother of 5, get over yourselves!
I set off to walk along Galle Face Green next to the sea. It was wild
today with red flags up at the hotel. You’d have drowned in 5 minutes but the locals were splashing around on the edge in theIt clothes, heads under the water, which didn’t look the best idea given the state of the water. The first guy to chat was Type 1, but I had forgotten the story mentioned in many blogs about the festival in the temple I should really see which is starting right now! Let’s walk together..... I said no, I was going to the Dutch Hospital, which according to him didn’t open until 1.30. Yeh, right! To be honest, they try but are nowhere near as insistent as in other countries. The drink stalls were open but there wasn’t much kite flying, unlike in the evening. There are 2 bin areas which smell terrible, each bin had a big black bird sitting on it and there were a few men going through the rubbish for things to sell. There is a bit of rubbish blowing about but not much, maybe partly because the Galle Face Hotel looks out onto the green.
I had a lot of offers of transport, walking along. Seeing a westerner walking produces reactions
of incredulity and great excitement all at the same time. Why is she walking? Surely she’d rather have a lift? After overshooting a bit and walking through a few back streets (it took about 40 minutes from the hotel) I got to what I thought would be a big shopping/dining complex, the only one which looked worth a visit according to all the stuff I’d read. Whaaaaat a disappointment! It was tiny! A few restaurants and shops around a central courtyard with some nasty concrete blocks masquerading as tables and chairs which you could have fried an egg on. Nobody was sitting on them. There was the much acclaimed Ministry of Crab, which didn’t look full at lunch time, and the very nice Helladic Tea Club where I had......tea. 320 rupees, 412 with tax. There are free toilets in the complex (too small to be called a complex) which are super clean and free. Maybe it’s better to go there in the evening, but be prepared for western prices and no view.
The manager at work had recommended going to the Fairway Hotel, which is right behind the tea club, to the roof bar called Botanik. I found the
Courting couples under umbrellas, one on each bench
lift but when I got up there it was closed until 5.30. Lunch is only Tues-Fri. The nice guy let me go in and take some photos. I could see the Fort train station whI have my company had sent an advisory notice about, there is a strike right now and scenes of angry passengers protesting. I couldn’t see anything but it did put me off going to the market, which is very close by. Also it was super hot.
I walked back, declining offers of an hour’s tuktuk tour of the city for 2$. I’m not actually averse to this if the price is right, but not today. Then there was the glorious sight of the Galle Face Hotel and the lure of cold but expensive drinks right on the seafront. It is a lovely place to sit, a strawberry lemonade and bowl of odd crunchy things was 650r on the menu, inflated to 814r with tax, £4. Not the end of the world. The lunch buffet looked fabulous. 3500r with tax and service. Sadly, after another curry breakfast I was nowhere near hungry.
The Breeze Bar at the hotel next to the main pool has big
bottles of Tiger for 590r, again, not the end of the world, although tax and service makes it more. My colleague and I ordered food, prawn fried rice for me and some noodle thing for him and the portions were minute, we nearly laughed out loud at them when they finally came. Finally, because actually getting served is an art form in itself, you practically have to rugby tackle the waiters. A really nice place to sit in the warm evening, but the chairs are super uncomfortable. They need cushions or something.
Plan for tomorrow is brunch at the Barefoot Cafe with jazz accompaniment.
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