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Published: June 30th 2017
I had asked many other tourists about Colombo and it seemed like nobody had anything nice to say about the capital of Sri Lanka. Everything we had heard was negative. People had told us that traffic was insane, that the city was noisy and polluted. We had also heard that it could be dangerous… My parents were even wondering whether it was worth stopping there. I was curious about the city, and I could not visit Sri Lanka without spending at least a day in the capital. So we kept it for the end of our trip, so that we would already have our Sri Lankan feet, that is to say we’d hope to be more familiar with the traffic, the local customs, the price of things… Well, it turns out that Colombo is a much nicer city than what people have to say about it.
We stayed in a lovely guesthouse on Galle Road, not far from the ocean. It’s a long boulevard of modern apartment buildings and international shops and restaurants: McDonald’s, libraries, coffee houses, hotels… We got to town very late, streets were quite dark, but clean and quiet. We found a place to eat
very easily. The next morning, we asked our host how much it would cost us to get a tuk tuk to the train station, and 2 minutes later we hailed a tuk tuk and the driver told us the exact same price. No haggling: perfect! It was about 7am, we were hoping to beat traffic (7km), but we didn’t. We got stuck on Galle Road, driving north towards the city center, but it wasn’t bad. We reached the train station within 30 minutes, and actually got to ride pass Galle face Green, the beach, and a bunch of modern areas which clearly showed us how Colombo was developing. At the train station, we dropped our bags off at the cloakroom, and the staff even lent us a lock as we didn’t have any to close the locker. And off we went, walking around the Pettah area, which is a big and busy market area just next to the train station.
If you ever find yourself in Colombo, don’t miss these bustling markets around Pettah! Men were carrying all kinds of fruits, packing them in boxes of all sizes and all colors, piling them up in trucks, buses,
wooden carts and tuk tuks. The show was on! Every few meters, older men were having a cup of tea while observing the men at work. The streets were packed, but the men at work would greet us and wish us a good morning. We stopped in a local hole in the wall to enjoy a fresh fruit juice, and everyone smiled at us, and asked us to sit down. These streets were crowded, extremely busy, but we felt good and welcomed in this environment. We ended up spending the entire day walking around Colombo (Kollupitiya, Pettah, Hulftsdorp, Fort area) and people smiled at us the whole day. You can have a look at the pictures we took. They are mostly street scenes, which represent the buzz, the life, the excitement that we felt while walking around Colombo. I took many photos of men selling goods on the sidewalk, strong people pulling carts of coconuts or jack fruit, others pushing handcarts of boxes, making a delivery. A lady came to me and asked me how we were enjoying Colombo and Sri Lanka. We walked side by side for a good 5 minutes chatting away about the places we had visited.
She was telling other passers-by we had climbed Adam’s Peak and had been to Haputale. People were nice. We had lunch at a canteen in the posher area of Fort. This old area has been completely renovated, and you can find some cool skyscrapers, fancy restaurants, and a few boutiques for businessmen and foreign tourists. It’s a 10-minute walk from the train station, but it really is a whole different world.
I’m not saying I would spend a week of my holiday in Colombo, but it’s definitely a place to see and visit if you want to experience Sri Lanka. We took the train to Negombo, and spent the last 24 hours of our trip on the beach. Goodbye Sri Lanka! We’ll never forget you.
Nous n’avions rien entendu de bien joyeux sur la capitale du Sri Lanka, Colombo. On nous avait dit que la ville était surpeuplée, polluée, que les rues étaient congestionnées, et qu’il fallait même faire attention dans certains quartiers. Et pour autant, je ne pouvais envisager de visiter le Sri Lanka sans aller visiter la capitale. Et nous avons été très agréablement surpris.
Colombo est extrêmement intéressante,
peut-être pas charmante, mais on ne peut plus vivante, avec de très nombreux marchés colorés en plein air : marché aux fruits, marché aux épices, bazar d’affaires made in China, et puis de longues rues marchandes où les enseignes et les panneaux publicitaires sont omniprésents (comme à Hong Kong ou Shanghai). Il faut voir tous ces hommes au travail dans la rue. Ils empilent des sacs de fruits sur leurs nuques et partent livrer. Ils poussent ou tirent des charrettes énormes de légumes, ou de boites en tout genre en plein milieu de la circulation. C’est le spectacle à tout coin de rue ! Et puis il y a aussi les temples colorés perdus dans la jungle urbaine. Des vendeurs ambulants passent leurs journées à créer des colliers de fleurs (de jasmin surtout) qui seront déposés sur des statues dans les temples.
Nous avons passé la journée à déambuler en ville, et tout au long de la journée, les gens nous ont souri et salué. C’était très sympa. Nous avons fini notre ballade dans le vieux quartier devenu chic de Fort Area. Ici, les gratte-ciel entourent petit à petit les vieilles maisons (elles aussi rénovées). Les hommes
d’affaires se rendent d’un gratte-ciel à un grand hôtel, et quelques touristes étrangers (très peu) achètent des souvenirs dans les nouveaux centres commerciaux. Nous ne passerions pas toute une semaine à Colombo, mais je pense qu’il est intéressant de visiter cette grande ville qui présente une autre facette du Sri Lanka.
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