Sunday, June 19, 2011

Colombo in 4 hrs.....

Bronte was planning to leave for Colombo from where she would be heading to Hong Kong. So I joined her as I would get a free ride to Colombo. Not having planned anything in particular to do in Colombo as I would only have about 4 hours( since we reached the city only around 3pm) I went and asked the concierge at the Hilton Colombo what I could accomplish in those hours. He gave me a list of options and all of them were places of interest that would shut down at 5:30pm.

Colombo National Museum
Making a quick decision to visit the Colombo National Museum, I left the hotel and took a tuk-tuk to the museum. Now I haven't seen a lot of museums around the world but I have to say that it was whitest museum around. Everything in and around the museum was painted in white(continuing some archaic colonial tradition) and the main building, almost arrogantly proclaimed itself as 'MUSEUM'( as if this was the only one ever built in Sri Lanka). I could have got in for Rs. 25( the fee for locals) had I not been wearing my Deccan Chargers jersey. The guy behind the ticket counter was about to give me a normal ticket before he looked at me and moved his hand away towards the tickets for foreigners. I had to pay Rs 500 to the man!
The Buddha sculpture
The Museum is quite a delight from the inside, recording the history of Sri Lanka from around 16 B.C. The most interesting aspect for me was the period of change from the Portuguese and Dutch colonization of the island to the period of British control. The coins and paintings from that era are quite remarkable. The museum also kept a permanent show of the Buddhist heritage in Sri Lanka. The Buddha sculpture at the entrance is magnificent to look at.

I could have easily spent another two hours but the museum manager literally followed me out of the museum gate. I tuktuked( that's a new verb from Sri Lanka!) to the Colombo Fort station to get a ticket for the evening train. The next train to Rambukanna was in an hour so I walked back on to Main Street to take in the sights. Honestly, as much as Galle was pretty even in the center of the town, Colombo was quite the opposite. Taking in the sights and the smells was quite terrible and I returned quickly to a waiting room in the station. The train ride was better than the last one(read less crowded) and I managed to get myself a seat for the entire journey.
 I reached Kumari's house around 9:30pm and after a quick dinner I slept at her house for the first time.

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