Early flight to Colombo
Well I flew from Mangaluru (Mangalore) via Bengaluru (Bangalore) to Colombo, Sri Lanka, at 10:55. Madan, Vishak and Abhijith accompanied me to wave me off. The funny thing about Indian airports is that once you enter the building, you can’t check your bags and then go out for a while. There are one or two food stalls, literally one or two. This meant that the boys and I hung out for a while, had a coffee and samosa, and then I entered the restricted area.
The flight was just over an hour. I was fed! A veg sandwich, coffee and a chocolate bar. Bengaluru airport transit area is much more international. There were the usual type of shop and restaurant. I had an hour and forty minutes to kill before the Colombo flight. Maybe the Mediterranean Restaurant Bar could sell me some long waited for, raw green vegetables? I opted for grilled mushrooms with mozzarella on a toasted panini. It was huge, came with endive, lettuce, tomato and onion, all raw, and some pretty decent green olives. Sigh! And at a good price, for an airport. Better.
I finished at the restaurant and saw that they were calling my flight. So I boarded the last leg to Colombo, due to arrive at 03:15. Yawn! I got fed again! The hostel I’d booked had a deal with a taxi car service, so I was duly delivered to the Colombo Lavinia Beach Hostel at just before 05:00. By 5:30 I was in bed and asleep. I woke at about 09:30, not bad 4 hours. I went exploring the local area, buying fruit and water, trying the food, that kind of stuff. Then I took it a little easy, sat in the lovely garden of the hostel chatting with a vet called Rosie, and grabbed an early night because I wanted to get into Colombo centre the next day. I slept like a log! Nearly 10 hours.
Colombo Lavinia Beach Hostel is probably the nicest hostel I have stayed in. It has lovely rooms and gardens. It’s 80m from the beach in a quiet area. Ok the trains pass during the day but at night there is hardly a sound. Colombo is 10/- from Dehiwala station, just up the road. The owner, Mrs. Merle Senanayake is a friendly person and helpful.
Mount Lavinia train
I caught the train at Dehiwala, just one stop up from Mount Lavinia, and closer for me. It cost 10 Sri Lankan rupees. That works out at 5p, yes, £0.05. (In €0.0529, at the time of writing.) Five stops I think it was. I got off at Secretariat Halt. Fort Railway it the central station and the one after Secretariat Halt. Almost the first thing I saw was a huge white stupa.
Google’s Street View of the stupa
Gangaramaya Temple, Colombo
So I took some photos. And headed off down Lotus Road in the direction of the sea when I met Siri. A junior finance officer in government. He told me that today (Friday 12th Jan 2018) was a Buddhist holy day and a day off and that he was on his way to the main temple. Would I care to accompany him? He take pleasure in showing me around. So that’s how I got to the Gangaramaya Temple. Wiki link here and AboutColombo.lk link here. I guess I don’t really need to say much more about the temple complex, the photos are enough. Needless to say it was awe inspiring. The mix of styles, many gifted to the temple by Thailand, Myanmar, China, and Japan demonstrating the significance of this complex.
The Independence Memorial
Sri Lanka’s Independence Day is celebrated on 4th of February commemorating the end of British rule on that day in 1948. India’s independence day is almost exactly 6 months earlier on August 15, 1947. This memorial building erected to the end of British rule is a loose copy of the Audience Hall (Magul Maduwa) located in Kandy in the temple complex called The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. Kandy was the capital under the monarchy. A statue to the Hon. D.S Senanakaya, the first Prime minister of Sri Lanka, was erected in front of this monument. Most visitors miss the museum located in the basement of the Independence Memorial Hall, I certainly did. I don’t remember seeing any signs.
Finally, as I was getting tired from walking all day, I got to the Floating Market with the Lotus Tower in all its glory in the background. The light was going and the photos didn’t turn out that well. When I go back to fly back to India I’ll try and get some better ones.
The train ride home was an experience! One of those “see how many people can fit in a carriage” situations. A goodly number were riding the running boards. It was only by pure luck that I managed to get out at Dehiwala just as the heavens opened and down came the torrential rain. It was actually a relief after the oppressive humidity all day.
Lazy Saturday on the beach
So far I had hardly inspected the beach. I took myself off by road to Mount Lavinia walking, maybe 3km, and then headed for the beach to work my way back to the hostel. A beach is a beach and those that know me will know that I’m not that enamoured with lying on beaches getting sand everywhere and burning. That said the beach here is nice with coconut trees and vegetation giving the tropical feel. I made my way up the beach in the direction of Colombo. The water felt nice. Once back to the part of the beach near the hostel I got out the towel and book and indulged in a few rays. It felt like an age since I’d had the sun on me. No such luck in Uttar Pradesh. It was certainly hot, I’d say the mid thirties. Ok now for the test – the sea. It was lovely and refreshing.
So Saturday is the last day and I need to go back to the hostel and charge phones, power-banks, computers and all. Travelling these days is all cables and chargers. I got back to Colombo Lavinia Beach Hostel, showered and shaved and began preparing for an early start to Kandy on Sunday.