Day fourteen we arrived in Colombo. This was our last officially guided day on our tour. after that we were on our own. We decided after watching a lot of travel docs, that we would only spend one night in Colombo then make our way down south for a few days. Mainly all the advice we got was – Colombo is a terrible city, but the rest of the country is lovely.
Needless to say I am glad we followed this advice. Colombo is a lot of things. it is the biggest city in Sri Lanka. Its where all the museums and culture is. It is where all the exciting food is. Its also where all the beggars are. It is also where all the hustlers are. Tuk Tuk drivers charge you more then they should. So I am glad we spent a day there. I am also glad we only spent one day there.
So we started off our day with a driven tour of Colombo. Our driver allowed us to see all the sights of the city without ever having to leave our air conditioning. We saw the main Temple (Gangaramaya Temple). We saw the market district where they had sellers setting up booths on the road. We saw the parliament buildings. Colombo is like an average large city. After our tour we were dropped off at the museum to check out the Sri Lankian art.
The museum was really big, about 3 colonial buildings big. But there was no air conditioning. Which was necessary. So in August, it was hot. Also we were at times the only white people in the museum. Which was not a problem, but it did equal a lot of stares. The museum it self has really 3 different types of artifacts. The first section is al found items, statues and jewelry that belonged to royals. They were really proud that they had a jacket from a royal that was stolen from the queen when the colonizers showed up to pillaged the palace. They had torn the gold earrings out of her ears and the jacket had blood stains from the injury.
The second building was full of old careered stones/ statues. These were awesome to see, but there were so many of them. The one I remember the most was talking down the row of inscriptions, and one of the inscriptions said when I die I give my land and sheep to the monks. It was cool to see that that was how people in 5 AD made wills.
The third building was full of old tapestries and paintings. They showed how artistic style was influenced by trade and by war. It was fun to see they definitely had an “Asian” art period where it was very Japanese like in their paintings.
After the museum, our guide dropped us off at our room and said goodbye. We were now on our own in Sri Lanka. Now before we got to Sri Lanka, we had watched Anthony Bourdain visit Sri Lanka. One of the only places he liked in Colombo was Barefoot Cafe. So I was determined to go to Barefoot Cafe for lunch. So we caught a tuk tuk, and headed off. It was about a five minuet ride from our hotel. We arrived, and stepped into what appeared to be a fabric store. So the Barefoot Cafe is at the back of the store Barefoot. Barefoot sells all sorts of cool things. Books, Linens, Toys, Crafts. It was pretty cool, and different from all of the tourist junk we had seen this far on the trip.
The Cafe at the back was like a mini paradise. It was a small courtyard filled with trees and small tables. Our waiter was an old english ex pat, who had decided to make this his home. He was friendly and gave us some good dinner ideas. We had a great time here.
After that we walked to Galle Beach, which is a park the locals go to. They were all flying kites and eating fried foods. It was a cool space that the locals of Sri Lanka actually use for fun.
After this we were in the tourist district, so we should have had our guard up. I wanted to go see this old 1910 department store. The guide book said it was still operational. However we got swindled into getting into a tuk tuk to see a festival. There was no festival. So that sucked. And once we got back to where we were, we were out $60, and grumpy. And other swindlers tried the same thing. This was clearly something that happens a lot in Columbo. It was crappy.
We ended out night at a pizza place that was delicious. The Brit at Barefoot recommended it. but Colombo had left a bad taste in our mouths. We wanted to go back to the small villages of Sri Lanka, where we had had better times.