Day 14 of Sri Lanka Trip, Colombo on July 24, 2017

Last day of our journey around Sri Lanka.
The plan of this day was to tour the capital city of Colombo, before getting on a flight early next morning back home.

Cinnamon Grand Colombo Hotel


Cinnamon Grand Colombo Hotel
From our apartment window.


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To be honest, there wasn’t much to see in the biggest city of Sri Lanka. It’s not nearly as rich in history as cities like Galle or Kandy, and bustling streets alone won’t make this economic center of a rather under-developed country exciting. However, we still decided to spend an extra night here as a cushion between Sri Lanka’s unreliable train yesterday and our early-morning flight.

Breakfast


Breakfast
I bought this frozen bowl of Kottu at a supermarket near our apartment, and despite it’s spicy (aimed at Sri Lankan people), it tasted really good.

Since we didn’t have an action-packed day, my friends and I woke up late and checked out of our apartment at noon. A cozy way of spending the morning on beds.

Colombo Fort

A small trading post under Portuguese rule, a fortified harbour under the Dutch, torn down by the British to make way for development into what nowadays the economic center of the nation with blends of different cultures.
We made Colombo Fort our first stop of the day, which is just a short Uber ride from our apartment. Yeah, by July 2017 Colombo was the only city in Sri Lanka with Uber service.

Old Colombo Lighthouse

Constructed in 1857 as a lighthouse, deactivated after its light became obscured by nearby buildings and decommissioned on 12 July 1952, the tower still functions as a clock tower at the junction of Chatham Street and Janadhipathi Mawatha.

Old Colombo Lighthouse


Old Colombo Lighthouse

However, when I got there, I found some rusty and dusty stairs leading up the clock tower unattended. Curiosity drove me up those stairs, to a rather simple internal structure of the clock tower.

Stairs


Stairs


Lighthouse Interior


Lighthouse Interior

I made it to the first floor of the clock tower, the stairs up being dustier and the upper floors being some seemingly fragile planks were the two factors stopping me from further exploration. Amazingly, there were no signs of any homeless people making shelter of the tower.

Sri Lanka Central Bank Building

Although Sri Lanka’s Central Bank was established in 1950, its first building in Colombo Fort was built long before that as a relic from the Colonial period. Today, an economic history museum occupies its ground floor, with most of the bank working in some modern skyscrapers across the street.

Sri Lanka Central Bank Building


Sri Lanka Central Bank Building

We must admit, during our brief tour of Old Colombo Lighthouse our bodies were struggling to adapt to a hot summer noon from our air-conditioned apartment, so the free monetary museum across the street with air-conditioning made our perfect next stop.

Newspaper Exhibition


Newspaper Exhibition
Newspaper Exhibition


Coins


Coins


Model of Coin


Model of Coin


Dome and Chandelier


Dome and Chandelier


Arisen


Arisen
The monument raised to respect the courageous late employees of Central Bank of Sri Lanka lost in 1996 terrorist bombing.

It’s a little bit hard to imagine a country’s central bank would take such a welcoming stand towards visitors and open a museum for free, which wasn’t how things usually worked in Sri Lanka, all while sculptures and fences nearby still spoke of memories of the 1996 terrorist attack directed at the bank itself.

After that, we wandered around Colombo Fort.

Fort Jumma Mosque


Fort Jumma Mosque


Old Colombo Lighthouse


Old Colombo Lighthouse

Cargills Building

Headquarter of the leading grocery store (the only one we knew of), who made this iconic building their logo.

The Cargills building was originally the residence of Captain Pieter Sluysken, the former Dutch military commander of Galle. It was subsequently occupied by the first British Governor of Ceylon, Sir Frederick North, who lived there for a short time before moving to a spacious villa in Hulftsdorp. The building was acquired by Cargills in 1896. Construction of the current building was completed in 1906.

Cargills Building


Cargills Building


Arcade


Arcade


Cargills Building Interior


Cargills Building Interior
I was quite surprised to find that apart from a KFC restaurant and a Cargills supermarket, much of the building was left empty like this.

Whiteaways Building


Whiteaways Building


Lloyd's Building


Lloyd’s Building


General Post Office


General Post Office

Colombo Lighthouse and Sambodhi Chaithya

Our last stop of Colombo Fort was Colombo Lighthouse, which constructed in 1954 to replace the old Lighthouse that got obscured by surrounding buildings. Just North of the lighthouse, a bombastic white dagoba (stupa) perched about 20m off the ground on huge curving concrete ‘legs’ so that sailors can see it from offshore.

Colombo Lighthouse


Colombo Lighthouse


Sambodhi Chaithya


Sambodhi Chaithya

I bet Sambodhi Chaithya would brought spiritual reassurance to sailors at sea, but on land with its four legs clearly visible in a not-so-appealing manner, I myself couldn’t appreciate it.
Unfortunately, reclamation for a container port nearby isolated this place from the ocean, and with it, much foot traffic. So both Colombo Lighthouse and Sambodhi Chaithya would stand unattended in a tiny corner of the city. If I were they, I would feel lonely.

Colombo Lighthouse and Sambodhi Chaithya


Colombo Lighthouse and Sambodhi Chaithya

And since they were on such a unfrequented street, calling a Uber ride to Colombo’s Market district, which was our next destination, involved more waiting than we’d like.

Market District


We made Market District our next stop, because it was lunch time and we were hungry, and we thought where there’s market, there’re people, and thus restaurants.

Market Streets


Market Streets
Market Streets
Market Streets

On the good side, and hustle and bustle of these market streets reminded me of what Colombo’s Fort in old colonial days would look like. But unfortunately, we didn’t find many restaurants, the disparity between which and the number of stores drove me to believe either Sri Lankans didn’t eat lunch at all, all everybody got home-made lunch boxes, which could be quite unbelievable (until I attended an American university).

At last, we found a restaurant just across Colombo Central Bus Station, which was the only restaurant we stumbled into that would openly advertise its ice cream with a huge poster on the wall. In a hot summer day, this wouldn’t be bad.

Ice Cream for Lunch


Ice Cream for Lunch


The only downside was that, we expected this ice cream to be some after-lunch desert. However, given how long Sri Lankan meals often take, that’s little more than a fantasy. We were served ice creams first after sitting for half an hour, finished our ice creams and did some more instagramming before our meals finally arrived.

Market by Old Town Hall


Market by Old Town Hall


After that, we made our way to the Old Town Hall.

Old Town Hall

Designed by J.G. Smither, an architect in the Public Works Department during the British rule in Sri Lanka, the Old Town Hall was opened in 1873 as the office and chambers of the Colombo Municipal Council and also functioned as a courthouse. Nowadays it houses a museum that has on exhibit regalia from the old municipal boards of Colombo.

Entrance


Entrance


Old Town Hall


Old Town Hall
Old Town Hall

The Old Town Hall was situated in such a busy market district that vendors even permeate its garden. Since we didn’t feel the name-his-own-price admission fee by whatever museum gatekeeper was justified, we didn’t enter the Town Hall. But anyway, it’s reassuring to see such a Gothic-style building in an ocean market stands.

After that, we took another Uber ride to Viharamahadevi Park, our last stop of the day.

Market Streets

Market Streets
Market Streets


Bankshall Street

Bankshall Street
Bankshall Street


Cargills Building


Cargills Building

Viharamahadevi Park

The oldest and largest park of the Port of Colombo. Situated in front of the colonial-era Town Hall building, the park is named after Queen Viharamahadevi, the mother of King Dutugamunu. The park was built on land donated to the Colombo city by Charles Henry de Soysa during the British rule of Sri Lanka, and used to be named “Victoria Park” after Queen Victoria. During World War II it was occupied by the British Army with Australian 17th Brigade based at Victoria Park. After the war the park was restored and open to the public in 1951.

Arriving from Old Town Hall, we got out of our Uber just outside the City’s New Town Hall.

New Townhall

New Townhall
New Townhall


Buddha Statue


Buddha Statue


While in Viharamahadevi Park, some of my friends rushed a visit to nearby National Museum and National Art Gallery before they closed, at the same time I laid back on comfy glass contemplating our journey for two weeks while catching some Pokemons.
Meadow


Meadow


Kids Washroom


Kids Washroom
Wow, the first time I saw kids deserve a bathroom of their own.


Suspension Bridge


Suspension Bridge


Lake

Lake
Lake


Meadow against Colombo Skyline


Meadow against Colombo Skyline
Horse ride was offered in the park, and there’s a horse in the center of this photo. I don’t know whether these two were related or not.


Birds by Poolside


Birds by Poolside


Garden


Garden


New Townhall from Viharamaha Devi Park


New Townhall from Viharamaha Devi ParkNew Townhall from Viharamaha Devi Park
New Townhall from Viharamaha Devi Park


Tracks


Tracks
Guess this was for some toy train for the kids.


Buddha Statue


Buddha Statue


Trail

Trail
Trail

After that, it was about 6pm in the afternoon, and we decided to head back to our apartment for left luggage. On our way back, we passed by Beira Lake and Seema Malaka, a temple in the middle of the lake for meditation and rest, designed by Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa.

Turkeys on Street


Turkeys on Street
So nobody went for their meat?

Seema Malaka

Seema Malaka Entrance


Seema Malaka Entrance


Seema Malaka


Seema Malaka
Seema Malaka


Skyscrapers across Lake


Skyscrapers across LakeSkyscrapers across Lake
Skyscrapers across Lake


Unfortunately, apart from the delicate Seema Malaka, Beira Lake was in my opinion, filthy. I guess it’s probably because this part of Beira Lake didn’t get enough fresh water circulation to wash away all the animal excrement from the ducks (they quite liked to roam nearby pavements), and didn’t think this would help make a good environment to meditate in.
Altair Sri Lanka


Altair Sri Lanka
A modern skyscraper under construction that brought artistic decorations to Colombo’s skyline.


After that, we finished dinner in a food court near our apartment, and tried hailing an Uber to the airport. However, it seemed that Uber drivers in Colombo didn’t quite like to take airport rides at night, and we got rejected and transferred for a couple of times before one driver finally agreed to take us.
Although Ubers in Colombo were mostly compact cars, fitting all luggage into which was a challenge. We got it taken care of, and reached the airport safely. End of day.
END

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Day 14 of Sri Lanka Trip, Colombo on July 24, 2017 by Huang's Site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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