“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page” Saint Augustine
I am addicted to travel and I admit it is somehow reassuring to have your [...]
Published on February 28th, 2011 | by Simon
I’m not sure whether an Americanism is exactly suitable, but whatever the phrase, I reckon the colonialists of old must have been made of much sterner stuff than me…
After 4 hours on two buses traveling west, I arrived in Galle which was colonised by the Portuguese, then grabbed by the Dutch, who then handed it over to the Brits. Being set right on the southwest corner of Sri Lanka, it became the natural place for P&O to put in and allow passengers some rest when en route to Calcutta, Rangoon, Singapore, Hong Kong, and so on.
For my first day there , I elected not to pay for aircon. Bad idea! It was impossibly hot and humid. No speed of overhead fan was going to create a feeling of comfort. Day two was much better. But I was suffering in shorts and a t-shirt. Back a century or more, there was no aircon and the dress code was, to say the least, rather less loose. I have absolutely no idea how they managed – probably on a continuous diet of gin and tonics.
The town is very mixed with Moslem, Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu religious buildings. The old Dutch church has tombstones set in the floor going back 400 years, and some rather sad evidence of later British presence.
I’m now way north after a fun train journey (yes another one) in one of the old capitals – Anaradhapura. The funniest sight on the train journey was a woodworking factory a little outside Colombo where hundreds upon hundreds of cricket bats were laid out beside the railway tracks to season. Just a reminder of how addicted Sri Lankans are to cricket – I even have a minor version of that bug now.
Lots of active religious sites here which is nice to see for a change. I sincerely trust that Buddha is watching over the workers who are clinging to the side of the huge stupa in order to slap some fresh paint on it…
The view from the top is pretty cool, but the real purpose is to see some of the best known Asian frescoes anywhere. How this was supposed to keep monks true to their vows, I have no idea.
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