Yesterday I opted again to get a car to get me from point A to B. The trains have been good, but the buses are like most of the developing world, overcrowded and run on a schedule of when full it will depart. So i’ve been hiring cars and drivers to get me from point A to B. Yesterdays was a bit pricey at $70, but it meant the 3 hour car journey was pleasant and not a 5-6 hr bus journey.
We drove along a 3 lane freeway for a while with a flyover also around the town of Hambantota. It used to be a small town and in many ways still is, but the Sri Lankan government are pouring money into the place to build it up as another commercial hub in Sri Lanka. It tried to lure the 2018 Commonwealth games, that ended up on the Gold Coast. I gues they figured after the tsunami, they had all this land to build something big on it and so far they have a hardly used port, cricket stadium and convention centre it seems.
The freeway soon ended and we drove along the A2 highway, which is more of a 2 lane road running through all the coastal towns. Many people holiday down here in places like Tangalle and Mirissa. The beaches didn’t look great though and there were a lot of rocks with smallish beaches in between.
I arrived in Galle and checked into my accomodation. Its in a lovely old building with a courtyard garden that was cool and refreshing, especially when it was so hot outside. I’m staying inside the old Dutch Fort area, with many of the walls still standing. The Portuguese actually started the fort in 1588, but the Dutch took over in 1640 and completed the fortifications and turned it into a major Dutch trading hub. In 1796 the English took over and built the clock tower. In 1988 it became a world heritage site.
This morning I circumnavigated the walls of Galle Fort. I walked past crowds of people and it turns out they were all visiting the magistrates court. As I was getting my camera out to take a photo the police pulled up and got a couple of handcuffed prisoners out. I decided to move away as who knows what other delightful people might be around.
All I can say was it was bloody hot this morning. Overnight there were thunderstorms, but nothing that looked like a cool refreshing rainfall occured this morning. The only thing keeping me relatively comfortable was the sea breeze as I wandered along the fort walls. I came across a bunch of young muslim boys playing a game of cricket. The pitch despite a few puddles of muddy water was clearly deemed ok by the boys and the game went ahead.
The fort area seems to be mostly a muslim and christian area. I’ve discovered on my travels of Sri Lanka, that while buddhism is the manin religion, that Islam, Hindi and christianity all have significant presence in the country at around 10% each. The irony is the wars that ended around 10 years ago were between the buddhist government and the Hindu Tamil up north. I have not however seen anything here in Sri Lanka that appears to be any issues with these four religions co existing. The constitution does state the offical religion is however buddhism.
I must say the food in Galle has been outstanding, but also the most expensive I’ve eaten in Sri Lanka, with the bills often close to $15! There seems to be a food culture here, maybe for the ex pats as it also seems that ex pats like Galle also, especially the Fort area. I suspect outside the Fort area its a typical congested Sri Lankan city.
Anyway my time in Sri Lanka is almost at an end. Tomorrow I’m going to catch the express train to Colombo which runs along the coast for most of the length of the journey and then get a taxi to Negombo (I could get a train, but less sure on the timetable), which is where the airport is located.
Interesting potted history Justin!
Yes I actually enjoyed the colonial history and buildings a bit more than the more ancient history in the middle of the country.