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Published: August 19th 2018
Kite festival being set up on Galle Face Green
After researching the many ways to see the sights of Colombo, from the budget version of the negotiated tuktuk to the super expensive jeep, we all decided to do the City Sightseeing tour, in the red open top bus. It seemed quite pricey for where we are, 30USD, but it picked us up from right in front of the hotel and dropped us back here 4 hours later. We had to go to breakfast at 7am and it wasn’t even a school day.
It arrived at 7.45 and drove up to the Galle Face Hotel where we had to wait 20 minutes for some Aussies who’d been given the wrong pick up time. 2 more got on at the next hotel and that was it, 7 of us. We first went round the Fort area and Pettah, the old streets where the market is. Every other building was buit by the British, some crumbling but most still being used. I’m glad we left something in the wake of colonialism apart from cricket and some odd vocabulary (people who work abroad are described as working in an out station). It was great to see the more local part of town rather
Poorer areas, washing from every window
than the hotel, which could be anywhere. I really loved it, and am going to go back and walk around next Saturday when I come back from Negombo. We had a smirk at the Young Men’s Buddhist Association building (it’s fun to stay at the YMBA). There are many temples, Buddhist and Hindu, Christian churches and mosques, all right next to each other. We went past some poorer areas, people picking through the rubbish in the back of a rubbish lorry. In Pettah, each street specialises in selling one kind of thing. We particularly noted Toilet Brush Street.
To our surprise, not having paid any attention to what we actually got as part of the tour, a guided visit to the Gangaramaya Temple was included. I was very happy to go back and we all learnt a lot about Buddhism and saw things I’d missed yesterday. It was only 9.30 in the morning and it was very quiet with mainly families coming in carrying lotus flowers for offerings. Like yesterday, I loved it inside. There was a monk giving blessings so we all queued up. He held a little tray of gold bits and bobs on our heads (pressing
Signs are all in Sinhala, Tamil and English
down quite hard) and then tied a red bracelet with wooden beads on our wrists, thoughtfully cutting off the excess with a pair of scissors. We gave a donation. Then we got back on the bus and more or less followed my route from yesterday down to Independence Square and to a souvenir shop where we stopped to buy gifts. They were very reasonably priced. On the bus a man came round a couple of times with water, juice and snacks for us. There are a lot of buildings here, beautiful but a lot are not very interesting functionally. It was like watching a tennis match, heads swivelling from side to side. There is an evening tour on the bus where you get a boat ride included and some bird watching. Same price, 4-7pm. I might do it.
We were supposed to be back at 12 but actually were an hour earlier. We wondered whether to be miffed but then had all refused to get off in Independence Square as it looked dull, so that would have taken a while. We went for coffee in the lobby and talked about going to the Ministry of Crab one evening if
we could get a booking. Apparently the 18th best restaurant in Asia, and very expensive, sometimes booked up a month in advance. We all three said we’d like to and I tried to call them but got annoying music, dread to think how much that will cost on my next phone bill. I asked on reception if they could book for us and was waved over to the concierge. He must have a magic number as he got through immediate we had no problem booking for a week’s time, maybe it’s less busy as it’s the start of the rainy season. The rest of the day was warm but overcast.
We went out at 7, back to the Galle Face and there were huge crowds leaving the kite festival, families, and huge crowds going towards it, wide boys sporting caps at a jaunty angle and looking like wannabe rappers. It was very blowy sitting by the sea, so not many people were. Very slow to get served although there were plenty of staff. When our second bowl of weird crisp things failed to materialise we lost the will and came back.
Back to work tomorrow, oh how quickly
did that weekend go by!
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