Friday, March 19, 2010
Sri Lanka - Angels Over Colombo
Radiant smiles. This photo only courtesy of www.expatexchange.com.
Colombo, Sri Lanka - Marco Polo is the ultimate adventurer. He blazed the trail to discovering new places, and introducing them to the new world. Once he set his sights on Ceylon, he gasped and declared it "the most beautiful island of its size".
Nowadays, it is called Sri Lanka and "exotic" more suits it than "most beautiful". The government has been too busy watching its back from insurgents that most of their efforts are spent on building barricades and fortresses. The city has suffered from such defensive stance. But they have somehow ended the Tamil Tiger's insurgency, so that has to count for something. Obviously, Sri Lanka has a long way to go.
And with bated breath, I was so excited and a bit scared to set foot on Sri Lanka.
I arrived in Colombo with the sun bearing down its heat. I caught the free airport shuttle bus to the nearest Bus Terminal that saved me 2500 rupees worth of taxi fare. It was just 50 rupees, then a taxi to my hotel (300 rupees). It took us a while to find Colombo House, an old colonial building that reeks of the past. It is situated at Kollupitiya, the same highly guarded area where embassies like that of China, etc. rise. In fact, my guesthouse's frontdoor neightboor is UAE Ambassador's House! I can't wait to share photos of Colombo House which cost me 4,025 rupees. It isn't budget accommodations, that's for sure. What placed a dent here is the 12% service tax (single room AC with attached bathroom is just 3,300 rupees).
After a date with the refreshing shower (my flight was too early so I had to leave my KL hotel at 3AM), I hired a bajaj - their tuktuk - aka "three-wheeler" to take me around the places I wanted to see - which were readily enumerated. Ako pa! Sure beats negotiating for individual tuktuks everytime I visit a single place - plus I have a bodyguard and am occasional photographer!
After 3 months of a hot and arid season, it rained! I was happy for them. Everyone had a smile on their faces.
My favorite moment today: Visiting Viharamahadevi Park, located just across the stately Old Town Hall - which they lovingly called "White House". As I was walking back to my bajaj, these very charming elementary school children started dropping their english phrases: "hello", "how are you", "bye bye". I had a huge smile on my face, turned around, and started taking their photos. Then my tuktuk driver named Tanggarajah took over taking our photos. Everyone rushed beside me and we were all laughing hard. Some started clapping. It was hard to say goodbye, but as i did so, I saw them laughing with glee. Even their teachers were laughing along. What angels!
This is the Eye in the Sky!