Discovering the fortified city of Galle was one of the highlight of our stay in Sri Lanka. (February 2015)
After a rather disappointing safari trip in Tissa, we hop on the next local bus to Galle-Fort.
On the way to Galle , we have to stop for a bus change in Matara.
The bus station has a direct view on the ocean below.
A tiny island, however, breaks the monotonous emptiness of the horizon.
The shapely island cast a spell on us,
"Woe, said we, for we might miss the next bus!" (#makeshakespeareproud)
Not downhearted the slightest, on we march!
It turns out to be a buddhist temple. We arrive right in the middle of an offering ceremony and get a glimpse of the women’s procession, all clad in white, as the tradition dictates.
The practice of buddhism in Sri Lanka, as in many countries all across Asia, has a tendency to lean heavily on the religious aspects rather than the philosophy ones.
The rite going on then was a very striking and colorful example.
Delphine, exhausted by the 6h long bus trip, finds a nice quiet place and starts drawing.
Mandalas painting and drawing in general are forms of meditations that can be found and practiced in buddhism.
That’s why the monklings gather around, in awe.
There are soon more than 10 of them! The light breeze and the view on the ocean complete this very special moment.
Funny enough, Pigeon island is crawling with...ravens!
After this short but refreshing stop, we feel strong enough to grab the next bus for the fort of Galle.
As soon as we arrive, a tutuk driver insists on driving us to our destination : "It’s really far! C’mon, I’ll even give you a discount, 150 Rs"
Erm, how far is it?
Wow, like at least 2km !
We politely decline...and reach our destination, on foot, a grand 4 minutes later.
Galle-fort here we are!
The Portuguese are to thank for the valorization and of the city heritage, now registered at the UNESCO. The Portuguese built it in 1588, far from imagining the Dutch would take up where they left off, and expand the fort significantly.
The harbor area is older than Methuselah supposedly was. Way older actually! It dates back to at least 125 A.D., since it’s displayed on the drawn maps of Claudios Ptolemios (the precursor of Geography, a rock star of olden days!)
The entirety of the city is, even to this day, very well cared for, thanks to the combined effort of the international community, the Sri Lank governement, and the local bank sponsorship.
Only when lost amongst its narrow streets do we realize how pleasing the city really is.
Finding affordable (not even going for cheap) hotel room is nearly impossible (I dare you Ethan Hunt). The costly safari mistake still fresh and burning, we manage to find a weird room well within our budget. A quick look at the place is enough to convince us, but the price is the real argument here. Something seemed a bit off, but again, for the price, we weren’t about to nitpick.
Next stop: the city ramparts, the sunset won’t be waiting for us!
On our way back, in the gloomy dusk light, we realize how creepy our hotel really looks like.
I tried referencing -twice- the establishement on Tripadvisor to no avail.I also didn’t know how the other rooms looked like. The price seemed -too- low for such a touristic destination. But we remember the name for sure: the Dutch Villa Holiday Home, in Sudharmalaya Street!
Thinking back now, the rusty and old stairway climbing all the way to the room should have given us a pretty good idea of what to expect.
And don’t even get me started on the kitchen overlapping both the lounge and reception. The very friendly old lady managing place, proudly sporting the infamous socks/flip flop combo, was very original inher own way.
A blast, I keep telling you! Also, the wifi worked perfectly, what more could we hope for?
The following morning, getting up for some early pictures, we find out we are locked up in the backyard. How dare we get up at 6am and expect to be free of our comings and goings?!
We sadly have to wake up people up to be able to try the new camera Delphine had bought the previous week.
Obviously, we get out of the fortified part of the city to eat. Prices can get 50 times higher (not kidding!) otherwise.
* Thanks a lot and good by Sri Lanka!
We head for Columbo, the capital city, after out visit in Galle. From there, I prepare a package holding my warm clothes I need to send back to France, since my ugly padded jacket does the job well.
Well tough luck, the package seems to have vanished into the nether somehow!
Screenshot of the package tracking from Sri Lankan posts.
Lesson nr 1: No more safaris
Lesson nr 2: Never trust the postal services.
The money would have been better spent in a proper hotel room in Galle.
We only spend two nights in Colombo, , at a private host recommended to us by a guest house. All the hotels shown to us by a tutuk driver were either full or grossely overpriced.
Which leads to lesson nr3: Don’t trust tutuk drivers when they say "I know a really good cheap hotel, yes!"
After 2 decrepit and very expensive hotels, he leaves us on the spot to find new victims.
Colombo is your typical skyscrapers filled capital city with malls everywhere. Sri Lanka, however, remains, to this days, the country with the highest concentration of hybrid cars we have seen during our trip.
The Town Hall is worth seeing (not too far from the post office, if you ever when to lose a package). Its construction was finished in 1927, largely inspired by the capitol in Washington, and is the building where the town council holds its meetings. The huge ball room is also the perfect place to host important events.
Our last night is spent in Negombo, in a very nice and famous hostel, where we discover more about the backpackers spirit, and another way of eating local products, mainly vegetables. (Our best meal in Sri Lanka, no less)
Seetha’s Hostel you might want to write this one down!
We even meet a young gentleman from Europe who has just bought his own Tutuk, and was about to spend the next 3 months traveling all across Sri Lanka.
The tutuk costs no less than 800€ (counting the unavoidable price for heavy paperwork).
On the 11th of February, we are flying to Mumbai, India
Our next episode: India!