14 Oct - 25 Oct 2010 Galle

Socialist Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka
Dutch Fort
Light House View Inn +94912232056 irifiyaanwer@sltnet.lk
Spacious holiday apartment with private balcony and a great view for only LKR 1,430.- or US$ 12.75 per night.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Light House View Inn in Galle, which we would recommend, and for directions:

Climbing up the 28-m (above sea level) high tower of the 1938 CE on-shore Galle Lighthouse aka Pointe de Galle Light, bribing the lighthouse keeper with a donation of LKR 500.- or US$ 4.50 for the illegal entry and enjoying stunning aerial views down onto the 1663 CE Dutch Fort of Galle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, bursting with the scent of spices and salty winds, and yet also, with its wonderful collection of slowly decaying Dutch-colonial buildings, vaguely familiar, like a whimsical medieval European town unexpectedly deposited in the tropics.

"I'm a lonely lighthouse, not a ship out in the night. I'm watching the sea.
She's come halfway round the world to see the light and to stay away from me.
There is a shipwreck lying at my feet, some weary refugee from the rolling deep.
Ah, could you lose it all and fall for me?"

Exploring the Dutch Fort's atmospheric old streets with many Christian churches, Buddhist temples and Islamic mosques, counting the historical private, commercial and government buildings inside the fort’s ramparts and bastions, and visiting the renovated National Maritime Museum (admission: LKR 300.- or US$ 2.70 per adult) and its display of dramatic aerial photos from the 2004 CE Indian Ocean Tsunami.

Sipping socially responsibly an undisclosed number of stiff G&Ts (Sri Lankan Ascot Dry Gin for LKR 930.- or US$ 8.30 per large bottle, diluted with Sri Lankan Lion Club Tonic for LKR 40.- or US$ 0.35 per small bottle) on our private balcony, enjoying day and night mind-boggling views of (i) the Galle Lighthouse, c. 20 m away, (ii) the old port of Galle, c. 0.5 nm away, and (iii) the busy shipping lanes between Singapore and Port Said, c. 8 nm away, and reminiscing about the good old times when we scanned from our ketch SY "Kamu II" the distant horizon for the two white flashes Fl.(2)W12s of the Galle Light during a 23-day looooong sea passage through the Bay of Bengal [1], [2], [3] from Chagos/BIOT via Gan/Maldives to Phuket/Thailand, only two years ago. 

Spending many hours in Galle’s busy fishing harbours and chatting with young local fishermen about the particularities of their job: traditional large-mesh driftnet fishing, up to 10 nm off the coast but always within the range of Dialog’s or Mobitel’s GSM network coverage, crews of up to eight hands on each of the 12m-long fibre-reinforced plastic canoes with single outriggers aka oruwas which cost c. LKR 800,000.- or US$ 7,000.- per boat, including the reliable and economical 15-hp Yamaha outboarder (...the preferred engine of the fishermen-turned-pirates who operate off the Somali coast).

Meeting up with our good old Rhodesian/Seffrican friend and fellow cruiser Maurice from SY “Cobble”, listening to the yarn about his previous maritime adventures in the Red Sea and in the Arabian Sea and learning that his ship rests in a cradle on the quayside in Galle's old port after her anchor had dragged and she was swept ashore during the treacherous southwest monsoon, aish.

Taking one of the government-owned local S.L.T.B. (Sri Lanka Transport Board +942581120) buses from Galle to nearby Unawatuna (c. 6 km, 1/4 hour, LKR 15.- or US$ 0.15 per person), a place which carries two faces: (i) a banana-shaped bend of clean, boiling golden sand massaged by a gentle sea of moonstone blue and framed by swaying coconut palms, and (ii) a tense showcase for the negative social impact of tourism with gangs of rude touts, impertinent waiters, cheating túk-túk drivers, umpteen overpriced gem shops and an unbudging two-tier price system.

Click below for more blog entries about lighthouses

Click below for a summary of this year’s travels
2010 Map Konni & Matt

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