My first visit to Colombo, Sri Lanka

I would never thought of being here in Sri Lanka if not because Jos has a conference to attend here. I’m suppose to be here with him as his spouse for the very first time. So that had felt really nice but at the same time, I felt nervous because it’s my first time in Sri Lanka and also my first time attending business conference with Jos so I’ve totally no idea what to expect.

We have been here in Colombo since Saturday 22nd October 2011. From the day we landed till now, Colombo has given me a feel of a very under developed country. I’m sure many other countries might gives us the same feel but Colombo really isn’t very developed.

The airport was a very small one and the duty free at the arrivals are packed with Electrical Items. Refrigerators, rick cooker, washing machine etc. Who on earth buy Electrical items from duty free….. Sri Lankans!

The drive from the airport to the hotel stayed at, Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel was approximately an hour. The drive way and also consider the high way was 2 narrow lane with huge trucks and buses trying to squeeze their way through. Even the car we ride on has problem passing on some point when a huge truck was next to us. There were loads of traffic and uncountable numbers of times the sound of the horns went off. Beeeeep Beeeep!! Almost every single second of the drive. Finally after 1 hours of the music of the horns and many sudden jerking of the car, we arrived at the Cinnamon Lakeside. Perfectly quiet and nice environment at first view, that’s all I needed really.

The Lobby was also filled with smiling faces which gives us a sense of warmth welcome.


Our Room

The first day in Colombo was just chilling in the hotel, having lunch, sit by the pool and also a spa treatment which was lovely. I have to agree with Jos about feeling sad each time the massage has to end.

On the second day, 23rd October 2011, the UGLY side of these Sri Lankan emerge. The experienced we had made me feel somewhat cheated and unfairly treated. Its clearly not about the money, its the integrity of one man and no money can buy. I really wanted to share this because if anyone is ever going to Colombo, just do not trust any strangers that appear to be helpful. Ultimately, their main objective is to have you pay alot more money than you are suppose to pay.  I wonder this “man” who is clearly out to cheat ever has a conscious that integrity is something money cannot buy, and he has lost his integrity to yes, a total stranger. He has no guilt, no conscious, no feelings. I wonder if he understands that fact.

The incident went like this:

Jos and I decides to take a walk with a map handy to see some touristic spot. That’s very common for us. We always travel with a map in hand and always prefer to find our way than to sign up with some tour package.  While walking, a tall, dark man, came to us and started being friendly. He asked that we visit the baby elephant parade which only happens 3 days in every year! Sounds inviting doesn’t it? And he even offered to bring us there. Jos is persistently declining his offer and we walk on our way. After a few metres, another man came by, this time, this man claims he is a police officer and explained that I’m not allowed to take pictures. I cannot agree with him but whatever. And he go on with his story about what he does and again about the baby elephants. He then continue by saying, “come let me show you.” He wave his hands to a red tuk tuk and said, “Do not take the blue ones, the red ones are safe and government owned” – Totally Crap!

Do not take the Blue Tuk Tuk!

I cannot believe we believe his crap and went on the tuk tuk anyway. He brought us to some Buddha Temple and make a quick round and then hop back on the tuk tuk and go to the beach. I didn’t even have enough time for any nice photo shots. There he asked for us to pay the tuk tuk driver RS 4000 which is equivalent to EUR24 and made us pay him EUR3000 which is EUR18. A total of EUR42 is close to a good SGD80! Amazing! We were being slapped on the face and have no reason to retaliated if you asked me.

The amount of money spent doesn’t make me angry, what makes me sick is how this man cheat without feeling a little bit of guilt.

So good experience ? Not so much….. I felt so cheated but Jos said, he just hope he buy some nice stuff for his children. For me, I just hope he get cheated the same way we did the next time he travels to China! Arse hole!

We went our own after that. Strolled by the beach on Galle Face and went on to the Dutch Museum. That is probably many many times better than having that chap rushing us around and ripping us off our money.

Galle Face Colombo

Actually we had a lot of fun running away from the waves. 🙂

Next, the Dutch Museum, possibly one of the place we were not con into anything. Its free and the care-taker of the musuem also wasn’t out to cheat. I know I’m seen here to keep repeating what we had experience with that cheater-bug but I just cannot understand where has the heart of this man gone to.

Sorry I digress, back to the Dutch museum. Below you see a picture of the entrance to the Dutch museum. Yes, it doesn’t look at all glamorous. Imagine its of heritage of more than 350years and nobody cares to upkeep the place for memorial sake. Its one of the most run-down exhibition museum I’ve ever seen, opened to the public.

Entrance to the Dutch Museum

Even the interior of the museum is run down. No cleaning up is done, no beautifying is needed. You just feel like you are back to the good old days of the time when the Dutch reign in Sri Lanka.

Museum Garden

Walkway

A Room full of Tombs

Along the way, I’ve taken a few pictures while heading back to the hotel. The many sights of Colombo state of life just makes me feel a little sad. People here seems to still be living as we would 20 yrs ago, when everyone else is moving ahead with time, there are people that are stuck at where their parents were, or even where where great grand parents were. What really makes a society stay where they are and not move ahead with time?

Pettah, Colombo on a Busy Sunday afternoon.

Spotted!

We see beggars everywhere, that’s true. In Singapore, Europe and even America. Generally everywhere. In every country, there will always be some retro part that are being retained as touristic spot. But to me, being in Colombo brings me way back in time.  And therefore, I can’t help but feel a little lost at some point. Good experience but won’t return if there isn’t a reason to.

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