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Published: February 15th 2020
I think I am ready for the tour . I have slept quite well , I am sure the melatonin has helped ,and the temperature +32 In the day and @26 at night is no longer so oppressive. Still crazy hot but I am no longer gasping . It is always a shock when I leave my room but a real treat when I return . It was wise to come earlier but 2 days would have been enough .
Colombo is a big sprawling place and with the help of tuktuks I saw most of what I wanted to see. The city tour was good . Having an explanation of what things are and how they came to be is important .
Religion is a big deal here . Buddhists dominate and there are many temples ...Buddha would have hated them . The main temple we stopped to visit was filled with gifts from Buddhists all over the world . It was built in the 1800's so you can imagine how full it is . Some of the statuary was quite exquisite but the music was a bit much . Can you tell ...I wasn't all that impressed . The central mosque , in a area known as Petah , is huge . It has entrances on two sides and I think it has spread through the block over the years . It is made of red and white brick kind of beautiful and gaudy all at the same time . We were not able to enter it .A Hindu temple in the same area has a facade that is truly over the top . I remembered seeing one in Singapore years ago . It had been built by the family that invented and markets Tiger Balm to honour their mother. This one had that same look . The interior though was calm and , I think , reverant is the right word . People pray with a variety of body and hand movements that is quite graceful .
Other sites were a combination of old and new . Old and new city halls and Parliaments , stadiums , Independance square , museums ...The buildings in the Fort area , the European commercial area were quite magnificent at one time but their age shows . The Grande Oriental Hotel is not so grand anymore .
The neighbourhood I was staying in was mainly commercial but had many new apartment complexes .I also found Holy Rosary Church and 2 more Buddist temples . One was built over the water across from the Colombo City Center , a 5 story shopping mall , theatre complex and attached high rise apartment condo . There seemed to be a small supermarket every 2 blocks that sold groceries and had food counters . In the evening there were street vendors as well . I can not say I tried their food. First it was too hot to eat and then I wasn't sure what it was ! I did have hoppers for breakfast at the hotel and some somosas at the museum . Hopefully our guide will introduce me to Srilankan specialities. I am looking forward to seafood.also .
Yesterday I explored Petah on my own . I liked it and felt comfortable in the narrow streets filled with vendors of all sorts. Things were quite relaxed as they were setting up and visiting with each other. Different streets sold different goods . It reminded me of Yangon with Suzanne many years ago . Again people were helpful and tuktuk folks were pushy ...oh well . Unfortunately the Dutch Museum is closed for maintenance and for some reason another gallery/museum I hoped to tour was closed.
The people I have encountered have been kind . Women smile and young men try to be helpful . Tuktuk drivers wanting to sell their Services are are annoying . Those the hotel books , Ubers usually , are both curious and informative . I did learn to only book with someone who has and will turn on their meter. Otherwise you have to negotiate and how am I supposed to know how far and what is fair. This who are aggressive lose .
So much for my time in Colombo . This morning I was hungry and chose to go to the Hilton 2 blocks from my hotel for their breakfast buffet . I had more food than I had eaten since I arrived and that included an omelet fruits , pastries and brewed coffee. It was good ! Back at my hotel I packed up separating warm and cold weather items . The cold things are in the pack and I don't think I'll need them for the next 2 weeks . I have arrived at the tour hotel , met my room-mate for the next 2 weeks and will meet the rest at 6 .
It's time to explore this neighbourhood. Hope all is well with you and yours. HAPPY Valentine's day to you all .
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