Friday, February 27, 2015

Colombo, Sri Lanka Feb 2015

We decided to see a bit of this island country before leaving.  Jason insisted on riding a train in Sri Lanka.  So we took the teeth-rattling sleeper berths to the capitol of Colombo on the overnight train.  We didn't get much sleep as the jarring of the start/stop was enough to almost throw me off the bunk.  We should've had seatbelts for the beds!  And noisy!  But it only cost us about $8 for the sleeper and we finally made it to Colombo about 4:30 AM and went in search of breakfast.  Along the road we saw this coconut vendor with a cart full of ripe coconuts.

The hustle and bustle of the bus station nearby had the streets coming alive at dawn.

Some early morning vendors are already opening at the Pettah, the big market area where it's stall after stall of clothing, shoes, junk, plastic, and food items.  A giant bazaar.  The shoe stall is advertising shoes for 350 rupees, less than $3.
One may was carting these boxes of oranges to somewhere to sell them.
Nobody paid any attention to the spotted cow wandering down the middle of the road.  A lot of Hindus around so the cow is sacred and has free rein of the areas.  Buses and the tuk-tuks ( those 3-wheeled motorcycle taxis) make their way around it.
This is the emptiest we've ever seen the streets in Sri Lanka.  It's just past dawn and this old colonial building isn't yet full of vendor stalls.
Thousands of birds lined the wires and ledges of the buildings at this corner, but nowhere else.  Very strange.
Jason looking at some of the old architecture in Colombo.
This old brick building is squeezed in between the newer/remodeled buildings in town.  Tall and skinny is typical.
You can see the disparity in the ages and conditions of the buildings that are side by side.  There is no room between buildings here.  They share walls or abut one another directly.  The Christian church is right next to a business.
More old and new.  The green tower is a mosque.
The green mosque.  Very colorful and in the same block you can find a Christian church and a Hindu shrine.
The wood-paneled truck with lots of colorful writing and painting looked pretty neat.  It is lined with steel instead of glass windows.
The oldest Dutch Reformed Church in Sri Lanka.
This is the hill we had to climb to reach the old church.  Our morning hike.
Old grave panels lined the foundation of this old church, built in 1749.
The entrance to the old Dutch Reformed Church.  Peeling paint shows how hard it is to keep an old building like this in good condition here.
While the current church was built in 1749, the graves here date back to the 1660's.  This one is dated 1684 and is still clearly legible.  The history of the church went back to the 1400's.
Old Dutch portraits in the entry.
The main part of the church.  Very high ceilings, with chandeliers for lights.  The stairway to the left curls up to the pulpit.  The seats are woven rattan for the chairs.
The church contained this 200 pipe organ.  It either has 200 pipes or is 200 years old; the caretaker didn't speak English, but he opened up the church for us to have a look and kept repeating 200 when pointing at the organ.
More intricately carved grave plates of stone line the floor of the church.  I felt bad walking on them, but there was no getting around it.  Some pretty interesting designs on them.
Looking back at the pulpit.  You can see menstanding there on the left to give you a feeling for the size of the room.
The caretaker showing me that the pipe organ was run by bellows.  He is moving the bellows handle up and down and wouldn't stop until I snapped the photo, so the handle is just a blur.
Jason looking at more photos on the walls of the church entry.
The sign at the entrance to the church.  We left them the donation and signed the guest register inside.
We continued on to walk about the city and noticed this place that sells the big, blue, plastic barrels that make up the fish farm flotation in many areas of this part of the world.  Next door is the shiny steel pot seller.
And the old metal drums don't get discarded, though what this place might do with them is anyone's' guess.  At least they're not floating in the ocean.....yet.
A handmade construction protection net, made of twine or jute.
The net hangs off of the mosque where construction work is being done.
The red and white mosque.  It appears in many photos of Colombo.
The Hindu shrine down the road. Still too early for much traffic.
The main port of Colombo, near the clock tower that did not keep the correct time.
A Buddhist shrine with a Buddha in it, along the main road.
The bas-relief elephants were a symbol we saw in many shrines in Sri Lanka.
The main river coming into the port of Colombo.  The nicest building in the area is the Customs building on the left, guarded and security-controlled.  We know who gets the income here.
Some interesting architecture in Colombo.  Colonial Dutch and/or British designs are everywhere.  This one is at an intersection and being revamped on the outside.
The YMCA Young Men's Christian Association) is flanked by the Young Men's Buddhist Association (YMBA) and the Young Men's Muslim Association (YMMA).  This is the Buddhist version.
More Colombo colonial architecture downtown.
Old and new mix here in the buildings.
This old Cargill's was mostly empty now, but has thick plank floors and high ceilings and is in pretty good shape.
Jason, Myra and Paraic sitting on a corner figuring out what our next move should be.
The view of more old architecture from that corner.
The traffic here is still controlled by policemen on horseback in some areas.
Traffic control that needs poop bags in downtown Colombo.
Paraic spotted this old gold car and we all had a look at it.  We couldn't figure out what make it was, but we later spotted another one or two of these golden beauties, even though James Bond wasn't in town.
Some masks in a handicraft shop.  Different designs have different purposes:  some for health, some for luck or wealth or prosperity, others to fend off danger, etc.  Very colorful.
Our one day in Colombo was enough.  We caught the oncoming train to Mount Lavinia, a few miles south for our night's accommodation.
A cold brew was found and we enjoyed them in the afternoon after getting settled in Mt. Lavinia.  Rooms are not cheap here.  Food is reasonable, but decent rooms and services seem very expensive to us.

Paraic and a cold Carlsberg beer.
Our room was not quite finished; the bathroom wasn't tiled, but it was the only option we had at this point, so we didn't really mind.  It looked worse than it was, since it was functional and it was only for one night.
Our room in Mt. Lavinia.  It goes with the bathroom above for $20/night.

The view from the train.  The tracks run right along the beach.  A nice view....
The train back to Colombo so we could catch a bus out was packed with workers going to work and we barely got squished onto the train.  We literally had to push our way in.  We had to remain standing at the door as the inside of the carriage was packed.  Jason barely cleared the entry but had a good view of the ocean on the way back.

A typical local bus.  

View from our bus as we left the Colombo station.
This one-armed man was on a street corner where we got stopped for a light.  He went through a routine of motions like he was doing his own personal tai chi stuff.  Probably homeless and perhaps a bit mental, he gave me a smile and a thumb's up as our bus took off at the green light.
The river running out of town looks rural pretty close to the heart of the city.
The scenery as we are leaving Colombo for Rathnapura to go visit the gem mining area of Sri Lanka.
A local fruit shop on the side of the road.  Nice bananas and pineapples here.
This guy was selling bags of goldfish hanging from a string on a street corner.  The poster in the background shows the new President of Sri Lanka.
We left the capital city and headed inland.  Colombo is a commercial port so we couldn't really come visit by boat, but other than the architecture from the Dutch colonial era, we really didn't see much to hold our interest.  We headed off to the gem area of Rathnapura.

1 comment:

s/v Libertad said...

You folks are seeing so much of SE Asia. I miss it when I read your posts. But of course we always enjoy wherever we are, as do you! Glad you found some good travel partners. Say hi to our fellow Amel owners for us.