We began our time in Sri Lanka, once we’d adjusted to the heat, by exploring the country’s capital city, Colombo.
It’s very easy to wave down a passing tuk tuk- the motorised three wheelers are perfect for short hops and can be found all over the island in abundance. We jump in, and trundle off towards the centre.
The city is busy and bustling, hot and dusty, and the traffic is loud! It seems here that whoever has the loudest horn generally gets the right of way. Road markings are used liberally, and vehicles of all shapes and sizes, and facing all directions, pile up a bit at junctions. But tuk tuks are comfortable, convenient, and well covered – it’s easy to sit blissfully unaware of the bolshy road action that’s unfolding around you…!
We got the boring bit out of the way first, and sorted out extending our visas for our stay. For anyone who wants to know for their own travels, it’s straight forward enough. Simply go to the Department of Immigration, and then follow the signs for visas. It took about an hour and a half in total for us from when we walked in, and the room was cool and air conditioned, with lots of seating. We paid in rupees for our 3 month extension and that was that. Easy.
So, back to the city. First, Rich gave me a tour the main public hospital in Colombo, where he has been working for the last month on his elective placement as a medical student. It was hot and cramped, with patients beds often quite a lot closer together than what we’re used to seeing in the UK, but Rich tells me that the doctors are really excellent, plus it’s free for everyone, much like how the NHS works. Public hospitals treat the sickest of the sick in Sri Lanka, so that can mean there is a long waiting list for less urgent care. Private hospitals are also readily available if you can pay, and these include the luxury of air conditioning. Private also has more facilities available and you’ll be treated quicker, so if you can pay for it, it would probably be advisable to do so.
This is a beautiful shadey park to find relief from the sun in the centre of the city. It is full of bright flowers, wildlife (flying foxes hanging high up in the trees like massive bats!), and fountains. It is also the place to go if you are young and in love and living in the city- it seemed that at the bottom of almost every tree you could find a canoodling couple locked in embrace. But it really was a lovely place to spend an afternoon reading (or canoodling).
The Good Market
Located just next to the racetrack, The Good Market had an array of ethical stalls. We enjoyed some earthy iced coffees whilst looking at the jewellery and bags made from recycled materials, and sampled exotic homemade jams. The market happens every Saturday and Thursday.
Seema Malaka Temple
A beautiful (and free to enter) Buddhist temple built on a lake. You are greeted by a statue of a reclining Buddha before making your way across the bridge to the temple itself. The dark wood and white stone temple is a haven of peace in the midst of Colombo. We came to watch the sunset, and I even felt comfortable enough to settle into some meditation myself.
Found at 704 Galle Road, Colombo 3, Barefoot is a colourful and quirky craft shop and cafe that was fun to explore. We went on a Sunday afternoon in order to catch the live jazz in the cafe and stayed all afternoon, lazing on the shadey patio and sharing desserts.
Ozo Rooftop Bar
Just down the road from Barefoot you find the seafront- an overwhelmingly huge and powerful ocean as far as the eye can see. Along this stretch there are a handful of expensive hotels, but many of them have rooftop bars that don’t cost to enter (as long as you swish your hair and act like you belong there, baby), and are worth visiting simply for the views over the city. We gawped at the glamour of the place, and then Rich promptly fell asleep unglamorously in a bar chair. The sunset was once again saturated with colour, and it was a gorgeous way to spend our last evening in Colombo.
That’s all from us in Colombo. Next stop, the old Dutch fort town of Galle…!
Hope you’re all well,
P.s. Sorry about the quality/lack of photos! I’ve had to take pictures of my camera screen to get them on here for now- and the wifi isn’t strong enough to load them all- you can look forward to the full quality pictures when we get back to England in five week time!