Colombo, Sri Lanka
My arrival in Colombo was easy. I catched a bus to the city for Rs 40, and finally a Bajaj (motorised 3-wheeler) to the homestay where I had reserved a room, the Parisare, for Rs 150. The homestay is located in Cinnamon Gardens, an affluent residential district in Colombo, and is one of the best budget lodgings I have ever seen, especially for a capital city. The owner is a 76-year-old talkative lady, fluent in English. She showed me a book her (deceased) husband had written, about his memories about life on the tea plantations in Sri Lanka. I browsed the book (it was in English). Interesting.
Immediately after checking-in, I walked to the nearby Viharamahadevi Park, and from there to Galle Face Green, the beach front promenade. At this spot, I came upon the first shady characters: A guy approached me and wanted to direct me to a nearby elephant parade, by giving me a free ride in his buddy’s Bajaj. This smelled of bullshit and robbery attempt to me (it reminded me of an incident in Mumbai in 2001), so of course I refused and just walked away.
From Galle Face Green I walked to the Fort, a high-security area with many police checkpoints, complete with sandbags and in one case with a big machine gun pointing towards the crowd. Cool. I ate at a nearby vegetarian restaurant.
It was time to chill out with a beer, so I stumbled upon the bar behind the Sri Lanka Ex-Servicemen’s Institute, and had a Lion Lager. I met 3 friendly guys claiming to work in the navy, and I also tried some of the arrack they were drinking. I took a Bajaj home afterwards.
Next day was less eventful, but I had a great lunch at the homestay (some curry dishes etc.) I took a Bajaj to the Fort (Rs 150), and strolled around nearby Pettah, the oldest district in Colombo. Meal at a vegetarian restaurant. Not that I’m seeking out such restaurants, but they seem to be many around. I walked back to my homestay, and stopped by a simple bar about halfway, where I met 4 very friendly locals at my age. They even insisted to pay for my beer.
Tomorrow I will probably take the train to Galle or Hikkaduwa. The train leaves at 10:30.