04 Oct - 14 Oct 2010 Negombo

Socialist Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka
Spacious double room with private balcony and a great sea view for only LKR 1,250.- or US$ 11.30 per night. Very friendly staff.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Dephani Beach Hotel in Negombo, which we would highly recommend, and for directions:

Getting our Sri Lankan feet whilst exploring both Negombo Town with its busy fishing harbour and our new neighbourhood at Negombo Beach and noticing (i) their Portuguese legacy whilst reading surnames like Fernando, Perera and Gomez on the tombstones of the (Eurasian) burghers’ graves in the village’s Catholic cemetery, (ii) their Dutch legacy whilst admiring the orderly, straight-as-an-arrow canals that run along this entire length of the coast, and (iii) their British legacy whilst giving way to the hectic traffic on the left-hand side of the road.

Feeding on Sri Lankan staple food, vegetarian and pescetarian varieties of the ubiquitous "lunch packets", filling meals of steamed rice, fried fish and sambalised vegetables for LKR 80.- to LKR 120.- per box, savouring in-between delicious local snacks at rickety street side huts (called kadé by the Sinhalese and unavakam by Tamils) such as (i) vegetarian samoosas for LKR 15.- or US$ 0.15 each, (ii) distinctively Sri Lankan kotthu rotti (chopped roti fried with spicy fillings ranging from chilli and onion to veggies and eggs) and (iii) various vadai (deep-fried short eats made from lentil flour and spices). 

Quenching our thirst with (i) locally brewed ice-cold Lion Lager beer (625-ml bottles for LKR 160.- or US$ 1.45 per bottle from the hotel bar), (ii) the local variety of G&T (one glass of the assembled weapon of mass destruction, including reasonably clean ice cubes and thick slices of lime, for LKR 150.- or US$ 1.35 from the hotel bar), and (iii) a few shots of local arrack (fermented and refined toddy made from the sap of palm trees) filled into tender thambili (yellow king coconuts from the beach) and mixed (shaken, not stirred) with the sweet coconut water inside; cheers aka jayawewa!

Taking local bus no. 905 from the unmarked bus stop near our hotel to Negombo’s Bus Station (c. 3 km, 1/4 hour, LKR 12.- or c. US$ 0.10 per person), thereafter bus no. 240 from Negombo to Colombo’s Central Bus Station in The Pettah (c. 35 km, 1 1/2 hours, LKR 41.- or US$ -.36 per person) and lastly local bus no. 103 from the Pettah to Borella (c. 2 km, 1/2 hour, LKR 9.- or c. US$ 0.08 per person), visiting Sri Lanka's Orwellian Department of Immigration and Emigration in Colombo and purchasing from the byzantine but efficient enough hierarchy of well-dressed, smart and friendly government clerks (“Receiver”, “Cashier”, “Assistant Controller”, “Deputy Controller”, “Controller”; their non-ironic framed motto: “The secret of success is hard work; that’s why it’s still a secret!”) two 6-month "double-extensions" for our visit visas (requirements: one passport photo each, extension fee of LKR 5,896.- or c. US$ 53.- in cash per person, tax of LKR 10,000.- or c. US$ 90.- in cash per person), no fuss and within 90 minutes.

Touring central Colombo (circumnavigating Slave Island and driving through Col. 1 aka Fort, Col. 3 aka Kollupititiya, Col 7. aka Cinnamon Gardens, Col. 10 aka Maradana and Col. 11 aka The Pettah) by means of Sunil’s red three-wheeler (one hour of driving and talking for LKR 500.- or US$ 4.50) and touching various places of interest: (i) the Hindu temple Sri Shiva Subramaniam Swami Kovil, (ii) the eclectic Buddhist Gangaramaya Temple, (iii) the pretty Seema Malakaya Centre, designed by Geoffrey Bawa (the most famous of Sri Lanka’s architects), (iv) the white-domed Old Town Hall (another White House) and (v) the striking National Museum.

Getting used to the sight of many tarted up old bags aka alte Schachteln from Germany who dovetail their desperate fantasies ("...being loved and coveted..."; "...becoming young and attractive..."; "...entering a new life through love, meditation and rebirth...") with the dreams of their young and handsome, hard-working Sri Lankan lovers/guides/sex-workers ("...entering the European fortress..."; "...making money in Germany..."; "...providing for the family at home in Sri Lanka...") and wondering if this is a serious international joint venture to rescue the ailing world economy or just a funny folie à deux under the hot tropical sun.

Laundering our dirty linen for LKR 50.- or US$ 0.45 per kg, washed and dried, at a local neighbourhood laundry in Perera Place.

Taking Ravi’s pre-booked and overpriced three-wheeler from our hotel to Negombo’s Bus Station (LKR 150.- or US$ 1.35 for the ride), thereafter bus no. 240 from Negombo to Colombo’s Central Bus Station in The Pettah (c. 35 km, 1 1/2 hours, LKR 41.- or US$ 0.36 per person), thereafter the government-owned S.L.T.B. (Sri Lanka Transport Board) rust bucket no. 2 from The Pettah to Galle (110 km along the coast, 3 1/2 hours, LKR 107.- or US$ 0.95 per person), passing Bentota, the glorious sun-and-fun, all-inclusive playground for mostly overweight blue-collar plebs and petty-minded office sitters from East Elbia, and learning that a Sri Lankan bus journey is a stop-start affair: stomach-tightening bursts of speed alternated with periods of creeping slowness, all played out to an accompaniment of constantly parping horns, blaring Sinhala pop music and the awful noises of mechanical protest as the long-suffering bus careered yet another corner with every panel rattling - before the inevitable slamming-on of brakes sent everyone lurching forward in their seats.
"You can't get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you're doing. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover will be yourself."

Click below for a summary of this year's travels

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