.All Trips / Asia / Food / Sri Lanka

Exploring the Pettah Market, Colombo

00 Pettah Neighborhood Colombo Market 04-2017 (56)

I love to explore markets and walked a few miles to see this one — the Pettah Market in Colombo.  Situated in an older portion of the city, the market extends over several blocks in the Pettah neighborhood and caters to local residents, not tourists. In fact, I think mine was the only white face in the market.  The market was lively, filled with colorful produce and interesting smells, and full of conversation and bartering — as any good market should be.

The fresh produce was beautiful, featuring what was in season, notably pineapples, wood apples, papayas, watermelon and lots of different types of bananas.  A huge assortment of vegetables were piled on the ground or on low tables and a …

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“Pic of the Week”, May 11, 2018: Wild Peacocks, Yala National Park

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Yala is Sri Lanka’s largest National Park and is best known as a good place to spot leopards (although we didn’t see any).  We did, however, come across lots of wild peacocks — both male and female– including this male who was putting on quite a show for the ladies.  Feather erect and fanned out, he slowly moved in a circle and strutted his stuff!

Peacocks are a type of pheasant, but with distinctive iridescent tail feathers.  As you can see from the bottom photos, the feathers make up over half of the male bird’s body length.  It is believed females choose their partners according to the size and colors of these feather trains.  These birds are blue peacocks, native to …

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“Pic of the Week”, March 30, 2018: Good Friday in Trincomalee

‘s Cathedral, Trincomale (6)

Last year I had the pleasant experience of being in eastern Sri Lanka on Good Friday.  I was traveling with a friend who is a devout Christian and Roman Catholic.  As such we visited several of the Christian churches on the east coast of the country.  

Christianity is one of the smaller religions in Sri Lanka, the most common being Buddhism.  But there is a strong Christian community especially in the eastern part of the country.  On Good Friday (the day of Jesus’ crucifixion and death) we visited St. Mary’s Cathedral in Trincomalee.  The church was very crowded and busy, with a large line of people waiting to get to the front of the church.  Their goal was to see …

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.All Trips / Asia / Sri Lanka

A Visit to the Old Dutch Fort in Batticaloa

06 Old Dutch Fort Batticaloa (15)

My visit to Sri Lanka this past year provided my first opportunity to explore the east and southeastern coasts of the island.  During prior visits, the area was “off limits” because of the decades-long Civil War disrupting the country (which fortunately has been resolved).  The region around Batticaloa was a Tamil stronghold in their fight with the Sinhalese government.  The region is decidedly more Hindu and Christian than other parts of the island I’ve visited.

Sri Lanka, because of it’s strategic location, has been in the cross-hairs of many colonial nations over the centuries.  In modern recorded history this includes the Portuguese, Dutch and English, all of whom left their mark on the country.  There were several dozen such old forts …

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Colombo’s Independence Memorial Hall

10 Independence Monument

One of the required stops when touring Colombo is this rather impressive building, situated in Independence Square within the trendy Cinnamon Gardens neighborhood.  The monument commemorates Sri Lanka gaining its independence from Great Britain on February 4, 1948.  The location is the precise site where Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester, opened Sri Lanka’s first parliament, in so doing ending almost five centuries of colonial rule (the last 140 years under Britain).

The building, while mostly made of concrete instead of quarried rock, is styled after the ancient structures in Sri Lanka,  The main feature of the monument, the assembly (audience) hall, was modeled after the royal court of the King of Kandy, the last kingdom in the island nation to fall to …

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Gangaramaya Temple: One of Colombo’s top Attractions

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Sri Lanka is a country of many traditions and faiths, but most of its residents are Sinhalese Buddhists.  As such, exploring the Buddhist temples of the country offers a gateway to understanding the culture and traditions of most of its people.  Gangaramaya Temple is one of the most important temples in Colombo and one of the city’s more interesting sites.

This Buddhist temple is encompassed by several buildings and is situated in the heart of Colombo, not far from Beira Lake.  It includes a Vihara (temple), a Bodhi tree, an Image house, and an assembly hall for monks.  The complex also has an eclectic museum, library, residential hall and an educational hall.  The beautiful Simamalaka Shrine is nearby and a satellite …

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“Pic of the Week”, December 8, 2017: Bagpipes at Sunset, Colombo

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I’ve taken more time to relax and watch the entirety of a sunset over the Indian Ocean than anywhere else; the majority of these were at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo.   And I’m not alone.  Usually 50 — at times upwards of a hundred — guests are there alongside me enjoying it as well.

During my visit to Colombo this year I discovered the hotel had added a new twist to the sunset ritual.  A Sri Lankan bag-piper playing a dirge, together with one of the hotel employees, solemnly and slowly march out to the edge of the sea at dusk.  The uniformed man methodically lowers and folds the flag as the sad tune from the pipes mixes with …

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Colombo’s Historic Galle Face Hotel

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I’ve stayed at many hotels in my life,  across a broad range of countries and classes of service.  Generally I’m a ‘Courtyard by Marriott’ kind of guy — reliable, clean standardized rooms.  But the Galle Face is special and a night or two stay here should be on your itinerary when you’re visiting the capital of Sri Lanka.

I was first advised to stay at the Galle Face hotel by my friend, Wayne Houser, who connected me with Sir Arthur C. Clarke.  I recall Wayne telling me all those years ago that it was a great hotel and was one of the only places you could get Arthur to leave the comfort of his home and join you for lunch or …

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