Saturday, January 25, 2014

Colombo and Galle, Sri Lanka 10-12 Jan 2014

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is known as "the Pearl of the Indian Ocean" because of its natural beauty. The beauty came from the long history, the culture, the nature, and the people. It has never came across my mind that such beauty exist so close to me. After a quick study and googling, I am all ready to pack my bag.

I was so happy that my brother Anthony is coming with me to Sri Lanka, we had an amazing time travelled together to Cambodia and Laos. I looked forward for another great trip with him. We booked our tickets and I made all the planning. We will spend total of 8 days in Sri Lanka. That is the maximum number of days I can squeeze out of my holidays. :-) Short but we will see what we can manage in that 8 days.

As we will land in Colombo midnight, I made a reservation for accommodation in advanced. I was shocked when I checked the prices online, even a hostel cost $25 per person. Since we didn't plan to stay or sightsee in Colombo, any place cheap and reasonable is ok. It was a house with SPA and rooms available upstairs. We checked in at 1am early Sat, slept, had our breakfast and left. The person who run the place speak very basic English but he managed to help us with what we need. He told us that there are many buses going to Galle, he gave us the bus number to take from the main road to the Main Bus station at Fort. It was easy. We got to the main road the buses were there instantly.Colombo is clean and pretty rustic. The buses are non-aircon and the bus conductor sell us tickets in small sheet of paper. It was surprising cheap! We paid rp35 for 2 person to the main station, that is S$0.17 cents per person. :-)

Local market
We started to realised that everyone was staring at us. With their big eyes you can felt the fierce stare even from far away. I look them back and gave them a smile, then everything change, they didn't look away and gave me a big smile back. Those who dares will start speaking to me, asking me where I am from, how long in Sri Lanka, do I like Sri Lanka etc. I started to realised how friendly Sri Lankan are, I started to like them. :-)

Local Market
Someone showed us where to get off at the Main Station and where to get our bus to Galle, everyone was so helpful. We had time to walk pass a local market before we jump on our bus. The local produce are mangoes, beans, chillies, jackfruits, potatoes, carrots, onions, papaya, pineapple, orange, cabbages, etc. not much different from Malaysia.

Colombo Fort Bus Station
From an aircon minibus and a local non aircon bus, we decided on the local bus. We picked the first row, got ourselves seated comfortably and the journey begins, we enjoyed the view of Colombo town as the bus pass thru the city, a lot cleaner than I expected. The bus stops every 100m as the bus conductor hung on the door and call constantly "GalleGalleGalle..." Gave me a flashback of minibus service in Kuala Lumpur. The Indian Pop music was blasting in the bus and we were fortunately sitting right in front of the speaker. :-( The bus driver was cursing using his honk. Colombo city seems endless, after an hour we were still in the city, after 2 hours we were still in the city fighting thru the traffic. We got bore and fell asleep. Finally I think 3 hours later we saw the coconut trees and beaches. Endless shoreline and beautiful beaches. Finally we arrived after 4.5 hours on that 119km route. It was a good start! :-)

Galle Light House
Galle was the main port of the island back in the 16th century. The Galle fort is a world heritage site and is the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by European occupiers. The bus stop is just outside the Fort, as we arrived at 2pm it was hot but not humid. We went looking for food, got into the first restaurant we saw in the fort. It was nicely decorated with Bob Marley photos. I got my first rice and curry. It was delicious! Not much different from Indian cuisine back in Malaysia except that it was less spicy.

Galle Fort

Galle District Court
After checking into our guesthouse, we went to explore the fort. A walked along the wall, pass the lighthouse, beach, a big mosque, churches, museum, lots of old Dutch buildings, gigantic ankle left over from the old days on display by the road and small little boutique of hotel and shops. Such a pretty little city, lots of photograph opportunities. We stop by a local fishing bay where the local fishing boats were dock. The traditional boat was built with wood, long and narrow body with one outrigger on one side to balance the boat. The other type was the fiberglass flat bottom type.

Traditional Fishing Boat
Fiberglass Fishing Boat
A few of the locals came to chat, they told us the fishing was done at night, they leave after sunset, out the entire night and back at dawn. 2 type of fishing method were used, hand bait and net casting. For net casting a few boat has to work together to circle the net and trap the fishes. One of them actually invited us to join them that night. Ohh..If only we have the time...:-( it's our lost to miss such an opportunity but then again we might not survive the night. 

Kottu and Devile
At night the guesthouse owner recommended us a place to eat, we tried out some local dishes introduced by the guesthouse owner. The Kottu is actually roti canai cut into small pieces and fried with vege and meat of your choice. The Devile is onions and chilies with meat of your choice fried with sweet soya sauce and we ordered an extra plate of vegetables. We love it! Anthony finished 2 plates of rice. :-)

The catch of the day
We left early the next day to Tissa. To get there we have to catch a train to Matara and change to a local bus to Tissa. The guesthouse owner was very friendly, he told us what time is the train and where we could find the fish market in the morning. It was where we pass yesterday, the fishermen came back with Tunas, Trevally, Grouper, Snappers all hand bait. There was one giant grouper just the head was 6kg, I don't know how they pull it out with their hands.

The train ride was nice and comfy, no more traffic jam! We got to Matara in 45mins. When we arrived a tuk tuk driver approach us and asked us where we want to go. We hesitated and told him bus station(we tried to avoid tuk tuk because they always overcharge) he told us it is 2km away 20 mins walk. We told him we will walk. In return he gave us the direction and said good bye. We were shocked by his feedback. Sometime this is what we miss and what made our day when you least expected it. A nice and humble person who just wanted to help.

Galle to Matara

Thusare House & Spa, Colombo – $56 per room/night with aircon, shared toilet, hot shower, wifi. Breakfast - 1000rps
Leynbaan Villa, Galle - 3000rps per room/night with fan, mosquito net, attached toilet with hot water, wifi.

Cathay Pacific SG-Colombo return S$372.80 pp
Visa - $30 pp applied online
Taxi to guesthouse - 2700rp per taxi
Local Bus to Main bus terminal - 17.5rp pp
Local Bus to Galle - 150rp pp
Train from Galle to Matara - 80rps pp



  1. Hi Alice, first visit, nice travel blog!

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  3. the fort protected Galle from the tsunami in 2004. While surrounding areas like Unawatuna were ravaged by the tsunami, Galle escaped with only minor damage.
    Thank you for your nice blog post about our country. We are very happy that you liked our country. And proud .

    1. Thanks for leaving a comment, I really live your country and people :-)