Relaxing in Negombo in Sri Lanka

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March 1st 2019
Published: March 3rd 2019
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We spent the night at Tunes hotel at KLIA2. We stayed at the same hotel in 2009 prior to going to India. How the airport has changed in that time.... The hotel is four times the size and a massive shopping mall is now between it and the main terminal area. However it was only a two minute walk in the early morning gloom to the airport transit bus which took us to the international terminal. Our flight from Kuala Lumpur on Sri Lankan airlines was comfortable and the three and half hours passed quickly, helped again by Netflix and in flight movie.

We had prebooked a taxi but it did not meet us so we had to negotiate with another company to take us to the hotel, hoping the hotel would pay the bill as we had no local currency and couldn’t find a ATM at the airport. It was no problem of course though despite having the address the driver had difficulty finding it. It is actually a home stay, though they used the title ‘motel’ in their name which is what confused the driver. A comfortable room and a tasty breakfast. The fruit platter was beautifully presented and we actually got toast that was brown as apposed to dry bread...

Negombo is a beach town that most tourists spend their first and last night in because it is close to the airport. We were a ten minute walk from the beach but as the beach is behind all the hotels and restaurants you couldn’t find it easily. We walked down towards it after settling in - we arrived at the hotel at 10.30am, after leaving KL at 9 am that morning after a three and half hour flight. It was very hot and we certainly didn’t walk back, catching instead one of the dozens of modern little tuk tuks for a dollar. We had to make arrangements for a driver for the next couple of weeks and we’re having trouble finding the office of the company recommended. We eventually found his office which was closed for the rest of the day, despite having an ‘open’ sign on the door...

We eventually caught up with him the next day and he told us the day before had been too hot to work so he had decided to go home... He told us that there had been lower output of electricity the day before as they were repairing the electricity plant. That explained why the air conditioning in our room, which was blasting out cold air that morning, when the day before it hadn’t seemed to be working properly.

We made an arrangement with him to hire a car and driver for the next fourteen days, to leave for the ancient city of Anuradhapura the next morning. That left the rest of the day to spend doing very little. And we managed that very well, spending time between our guesthouse and a couple of luxury beach front hotels, relaxing and reading, and watching the fishermen in their very roughly made catamarans, with big sails, circling off shore as they caught prawns.

Both evenings we watched the sunset over the ocean and were entertained by a group of young men enthusiastically playing cricket on the beach. Negombo thrives on tourism, but there was no hard sell and people were very friendly. Lots of tuk tuk drivers called out every time you walked passed offering you lifts. It’s a big industry here I think as most seem to have new shiny vehicles, with fancy patterned seats. We were told it costs US$5,000 to buy one. And there were many travel agencies selling tours to all the sites nearby. Most tourists tend to hire cars here, be it for one day or a fortnight, to take them to the main areas.

The area around Negombo is predominately Christian and you see many Dutch style churches as you drive around the stea. They are painted in bright colours and each with a religious shrine, surrounded by neon and tinsel, at the front gate. Many of the houses also had tiny Christian shrines in their gardens.

Next morning we met our driver Samand. We asked him to take us first to the Negombo fish markets, which was really the only place in the city we wished to visit. Usually the best time to visit is early morning but at 9am when we arrived it was still very bus. Most of the fish selling had finished though there was a group of fishermen still selling small catches of fish to the highest bidder. It was very wet underfoot and slippery and smelly. On the shoreline there were half a dozen small boats and the fishermen were busy pulling tiny fish out of their nets. There were some very large fish for sale as well including tuna. The most fascinating part of the market was on the sand where long pieces of hessian were laid out. On the hessian were thousands of gutted fish of all sizes drying. We watched a woman laying fish - what a back breaking job that was! The fish are turned every 24 hours until they have dried out enough to go to the local market for sale.

We had been wandering about the hundreds of noisy crows that were in Negombo - no seagulls at all. Before the fish are dried, they are unloaded from the boats and gutted on the shore. There were bins of smelly innards everywhere so we presumed these were a banquet for the crows at the end of the day.

An enjoyable though quiet couple of days and we were looking forward to what the next few weeks would bring.

Additional photos below
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Laying out the fish to dryLaying out the fish to dry
Laying out the fish to dry

Back breaking work...

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