Sunday, 7 August 2011

Lunchtime Walk in Downtown Colombo

I took a walk around noon to see some sights. It was hot and muggy. I think it must have rained recently.

There were soldiers standing outside my hotel and I saw them wave down an autorickshaw and ask the passenger some questions, but they took no notice of me. It was a reminder that this is a nation that has very recently emerged from a civil war and the constant threat of terrorist violence.

My driver of last night had recommended a small restaurant near my hotel, so I walked there.

The Sri Krishna Villas (double L!) is a fairly downmarket Tamil restaurant, but like a western tourist, I was interested in an "authentic cultural experience" complete with cuisine. I ordered a standard meal plate. There was no spoon provided, so I washed my hands and went for it. I don't eat with my fingers even at home, so this would have been amusing to my family :-). Surprisingly, there was no yoghurt or buttermilk to have as the last rice course, but there was a sweet dish. The bill came to LKR 115, perhaps AUD 2.30 in PPP terms. Cheap at the price, but it wasn't a great meal all told, and I probably won't go there again.

It was fairly hot and uncomfortable to walk in the sun, but I wanted to buy a street map of Colombo. Again, surprisingly, this proved very hard to do. I was directed from place to place, but no one seemed to have street maps. The last place I visited was a supermarket (Arpico), which seemed very like a supermarket in India. There were guards milling around the supermarket, so I didn't dare take any pictures.

Some street scenes were amusing, and I snapped them. I find it surreal when things are familiar yet different, like my trip to Mauritius in 1991.

The Sinhalese script looks hauntingly familiar, like I should know it. It looks South Indian (although I'm told Sinhalese is related to Oriya rather than to any of the South Indian languages), but I can't read it for the life of me, though I can read two South Indian scripts (Kannada and Tamil) and sort of decipher a third (Telugu).

There are autorickshaws on the streets, just like in India, and they're made by Bajaj too. People refer to them as tuk-tuks, but then the driver of a passing tuk-tuk called out to me, "Auto?", just like in India.

I thought this poster ad for a DVD was interesting.

This is a nice banyan tree at one end of Park Street, where my hotel is.

This is the entrance to Park Street hotel.

The hotel has a colonial style. I think I can understand why the British colonised our countries in the first place ;-).

And this is my room. Ver-ry nice.



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